Is this popular meat subscription service worth the money?
I tried Crowd Cow to see if it lives up to the hype.
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I'm someone who orders a burger on the first date, who ate 11 hot dogs in one sitting when she was three years old (yes, really), and who once went 12 days eating nothing but ground beef and steak (do not recommend, by the way). To sum it up: I love meat.
But given the current state of the country amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, meat has become harder and harder to find in stores. That's why so many people are turning to meat subscription services, which deliver steak/chicken/pork/seafood directly to your doorstep. While I had heard of such services, I had yet to actually use one—so I figured now was a perfect time to start.
One of the most popular of the online meat delivery services is Crowd Cow. With everything from Japanese Wagyu beef to wild Maine lobster, I was intrigued. Drooling over the endless photos of juicy steaks and burgers, I eagerly placed my order. Here are my honest thoughts on Crowd Cow—and whether or not it's worth trying for yourself.
What is Crowd Cow?
Crowd Cow is a meat subscription service that sources its meat from independent ranchers and farmers. Their mission? "To create a meaningful connection between the farmer and the customer, so people can know and appreciate exactly where their food comes from." Promising only the highest-quality beef, chicken, pork, Wagyu, and seafood, Crowd Cow says they only work with farms that they know personally and that raise their livestock in a sustainable and ethical way. Additionally, all of their products are raised without any added hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.
How Crowd Cow works
One of the major perks of using Crowd Cow—besides the convenience—is the variety of options to choose from. Unlike other delivery services, not only can you can sign up for a monthly subscription box, but you can also order individual cuts of meat for a one-time purchase. Because Crowd Cow only uses smaller, independent farms, availability varies based on the season (i.e. what you get in a box one month is often different from what you got the month before).
After you place your order, you'll receive a confirmation email that contains your tracking information so you know exactly when your package arrives (important when you're dealing with raw meat!). My shipment arrived a quick three days after ordering, just as promised. All of the meat—which is shipped frozen—was neatly packed in an insulated box over dry ice. Bonus: According to Crowd Cow, the packaging, including the foam, is 100 percent recyclable and compostable.
Along with my meat, the box included a handwritten note letting me know exactly which farms my beef came from and where they were located. I liked that the note added not only a personal touch but also made me feel good knowing that I was supporting small, independent farms.
How much does Crowd Cow cost?
That all depends on what exactly you order. For subscription boxes, the custom box—which allows you to pick and choose what's included—starts at $99. The steak lover's box—which can include ribeye, filet mignon, or New York strip—is $159 per month while the Japanese Wagyu box—which includes different types of Wagyu beef—is the priciest box at $249 per month.
If you choose to order individual cuts, the prices currently range anywhere from $8 (a Denver steak) to $75 (Wagyu short ribs). Keep in mind, however, that the range of prices varies as the selection and availability changes throughout the year.
What is the taste and quality of Crowd Cow meat like?
For my first time, I ordered one pound of ground beef, a 16 oz. bone-in ribeye steak, and an 8 oz. top sirloin steak. While I'm not the most sophisticated foodie or the best home chef by any means, I do like to think I know my way around a slab of meat (when that's all you eat for over two weeks, you learn fast!). While I admit that I was a little skeptical since the meat was frozen—I typically prefer buying fresh beef—I found both the ribeye and the top sirloin to be deliciously juicy and great quality. And the ground beef didn't disappoint either—I used it a few days later to make burgers and, whether I was just really hungry that day or the meat was just that good, they were the best burgers I've ever made.
Is Crowd Cow worth buying?
Do you like high-quality meat, avoiding the grocery store, and supporting independent farmers? If you answered yes to any of the above, then Crowd Cow is 10/10 worth it, in my opinion. Yes, it's a little pricier than what you see at the grocery store but, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. I.e. you're paying for meat that's either grass-fed or pasture-raised and seafood that's wild-caught—all without ever having to leave your house.
And while I believe Crowd Cow is a worthy buy all year-round (I'll certainly be using it again!), it's especially relevant right now, with grocery stores facing meat shortages and limited supply. Even if you don't want to commit to a monthly subscription or even just an entire box, I love that you can order cuts a la carte, making Crowd Cow a great option for almost anyone with any lifestyle.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.