Both producers adhere to the required standards, even if shoppers are not aware of the connection to major beef companies. Soak chicken pieces in buttermilk for 30 minutes. While that might mean the company is fostering the growth of its own competition, one group is certain to benefit from more widely available products that meet higher standards: meat-eating grocery shoppers. Sure, shoppers at Whole Foods can select—and pay extra for—a pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed steak from a local rancher. Meyer Natural Angus, a brand sold at Whole Foods in accordance with the supermarket chain’s meat-sourcing standards, is processed in a plant owned by Cargill. Farmers and ranchers raising the animals are also expected to be audited for compliance every 15 months. Whole Foods Market Inc. doesn’t just sell chickens. Last month the company committed to raising enough GAP-certified chickens to meet customer demand. *For those of you squeamish about "undercooked" chicken or who insist that breast meat must be cooked to 165°F to be safe and tasty, please read this discussion on real world food safety, which is quite different from what the U.S. government would have you believe.. The similarities don’t stop there: In this case, the chicken under the 365 Everyday Value store-brand label at Whole Foods was raised by a Perdue farmer and slaughtered in the same Perdue plant as its Harvestland cousin, although a shopper likely wouldn’t be aware of that fact. As with poultry, the products are all GAP-certified and follow the five-step rating system that requires a minimum of space per animal, pasture access, and a prohibition on branding. The company’s use of Cargill facilities is not abnormal, according to industry experts, and segregation practices are strictly monitored by representatives of both companies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “I’m really proud of the process to become a Whole Foods market supplier,” says Theo Weening, global meat coordinator and buyer at Whole Foods. Our food is prepared and packaged on premises with the best the season offers and … In other stores, however, “the customer really has to search.”. “All products meet the same minimum standards. The 365-branded poultry at Whole Foods is often rated Step 2, since GAP doesn’t certify chickens at a lower level. Whole Foods points to the extra level of audits that are guaranteed with any product purchased at its stores, rigorous enough that industry insiders sometimes complain that working with Whole Foods means jumping through extra hoops. Oddly enough, this was the first time I ordered from the hot food bar. A shopper on a recent visit could pay $2.49 per pound for antibiotic-free thighs with a Whole Foods label touting “no added solutions or injections.” Perdue’s Harvestland-branded poultry—no antibiotics, air-chilled—cost just $1.99 per pound at an unremarkable Key Food supermarket just a few blocks away. The establishment number on the USDA inspection label shows where the bird was processed. This may, at least in part, explain why Whole Foods keeps adding rules, such as its March 2016 requirement that suppliers switch chicken breeds over the next eight years to those that grow more slowly and have fewer health problems. A farmer who provided a sufficient number of ramps for his chickens to climb would qualify. The more widespread availability of products meeting Whole Foods standards can even be seen as part of what made the company vulnerable to a takeover bid. Perdue, for instance, acquired the no-antibiotics Coleman Natural Foods in 2011 and has since converted 95 percent of its poultry operations to antibiotic-free production. To qualify at Step 1, the baseline for inclusion in a Whole Foods meat department, means any product must prohibit antibiotics and hormones and follow a “no cages, no crates, no crowding” credo. Part of this confusion might stem from the fact that the standards promoted by GAP and Whole Foods are now becoming more widely embraced in the U.S. Big poultry and meat producers have absorbed many of the organic grocer’s practices—and become its suppliers. Discover the city's best in film, food, music, sports and all things entertaining. The product image shown is for illustration purposes only. I have been wanting to try this recipe ever since I started eating Paleo-style. Plus, he notes, products such as antibiotic-free or organic chicken “command higher prices” at a time when record meat and poultry supplies in the U.S. are curbing commodity prices. Whole Foods seems to be succeeding by that measure. It is gluten and dairy-free and amazing! At a Whole Foods with a meat counter, there will be a range of beef options behind the case clearly marked as local or grass-fed. So far, a Perdue spokesman said in an email, enrichments such as perches and hay bales are in 13.5 percent of the company’s barns. 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, MD; (240) 762-4000, Juniper at the Fairmont Washington, DC, Georgetown, 4420 Willard Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA. “Consumers are going in and shopping for these items because they do trust them.”.