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Whole Foods stops carrying Eberly poultry!


dagordon
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Stopped by the 9th St Whole Foods today to reap the bounty of the weekly Wednesday Eberly poultry delivery. Only to be told that they are no longer carrying Eberly products. They are selling their own newfangled Whole Foods branded chickens.

My girlfriend and I nearly broke down. Eberly chickens are the chickens used at many of the top restaurants in nyc. They consistently win chicken tastings. The chickens are, quite simply, superb.

I posted today about what I feel is the lack of truly high-end meat and fish in Philly. One exception to this has been poultry. A simple roasted Eberly chicken is something to behold.

According to the Eberly web site Lester Halteman at RTM has their stuff. I will have to see exactly what they carry tomorrow. Anyone know?

Eberly has a pretty amazing store at their farm, but it's completely impractical to drive out there for a regular supply.

I'm also aware that D'Artagnan organic chickens are Eberly... though we've found that they're not as consistently amazing as the Eberly branded ones. In fact we had an off one recently...

I don't know what I will do if I cannot have a regular supply of Eberly chickens and chicken parts.

Whole Foods has officially pissed me off one too many times. If I ever go there again it will be with a pet lobster on a leash behind me following a trail of foie gras bits that I will toss it as food.

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I'm not familiar with Eberly but wonder how much better than Bell and Evans it is. A quick look at their site indicates Eberly is carried at the following Philly places:

Wholesale:

ASHLEY FOODS (Phila. PA)

ESPOSITO'S (Phila. PA)

EXCEPTIONAL FOODS (Phila. PA)

GEORGE WELLS (Phila. PA)

LEONE'S MEATS (Philadelphia, PA)

RETAIL:

GUINTA'S THRIFTWAY (West Chester, PA)

GERARD'S INTERNATIONAL (PA)

GODSHALL'S (Phila. PA)

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I'm not familiar with Eberly but wonder how much better than Bell and Evans it is. A quick look at their site indicates Eberly is carried at the following Philly places:

Wholesale:

ASHLEY FOODS (Phila. PA)

ESPOSITO'S (Phila. PA)

EXCEPTIONAL FOODS (Phila. PA)

GEORGE WELLS (Phila. PA)

LEONE'S MEATS (Philadelphia, PA)

RETAIL:

GUINTA'S THRIFTWAY (West Chester, PA)

GERARD'S INTERNATIONAL (PA)

GODSHALL'S (Phila. PA)

That's weird... when you actually do a search for Philadelphia retailers, only Whole Foods and Haltemann are listed, but, yes, those others are listed right there on the site. Thanks. Good to know.

A couple of months ago we decided to see if there was anything to the "air chilled" chicken fad, so we got a Bell & Evans air chilled chicken from Whole Foods and roasted it as usual. There was absolutely no comparison with the Eberly birds we were used to. The texture was actually pretty good but in the taste department not satisfying at all.

Of course, this was hardly scientific. :smile:

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...

Whole Foods has officially pissed me off one too many times. If I ever go there again it will be with a pet lobster on a leash behind me following a trail of foie gras bits that I will toss it as food.

You may also want to drag an Italian proscuitto and perhaps other foreign charcuterie that no longer meets their specs. I'm not sure if the Italian proscuitto missed snuff b/c of nitrates or other issues. There is a thread on it; but I'm not sure if a consensus was arrived at why they discontinued carrying it...

Were you able to get any info on why they discontinued the Eberly chickens? (I guess you may have answered this by mentioning that they have their own brand that they are pushing.)

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I've never seen Eberly chickens (at least packaged as such) at L. Halteman at the RTM. However, Giunta's Prime Shop carries Eberly chickens, capons and cornish game hens. I love the Eberly poultry, too. I most recently made the capon (surgically altered, not chemically) purchased at Giunta's and it was incredible. Giunta's Prime Shop is located in the former A.A. Halteman space, which is between Iovine's and L. Halteman.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I've never seen Eberly chickens (at least packaged as such) at L. Halteman at the RTM. However, Giunta's Prime Shop carries Eberly chickens, capons and cornish game hens. I love the Eberly poultry, too. I most recently made the capon (surgically altered, not chemically) purchased at Giunta's and it was incredible. Giunta's Prime Shop is located in the former A.A. Halteman space, which is between Iovine's and L. Halteman.

Awesome! Thank you!

As far as an explanation from Whole Foods, they said that it's cheaper for them to be supplying the Whole Foods branded chickens. And the Whole Foods branded chicken are slightly cheaper to consumers as a result.

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I've never seen Eberly chickens (at least packaged as such) at L. Halteman at the RTM. However, Giunta's Prime Shop carries Eberly chickens, capons and cornish game hens. I love the Eberly poultry, too. I most recently made the capon (surgically altered, not chemically) purchased at Giunta's and it was incredible. Giunta's Prime Shop is located in the former A.A. Halteman space, which is between Iovine's and L. Halteman.

they used to sell eberly at a.a. haltemann, though, so maybe that's where the name came from and they were just mixing up the two shops.

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As far as an explanation from Whole Foods, they said that it's cheaper for them to be supplying the Whole Foods branded chickens. And the Whole Foods branded chicken are slightly cheaper to consumers as a result.

So I guess the next thing one would try to do is find out who packages the poultry for Whole Foods. Wouldn't there be a chance that Eberly's doing a private label thing for them?

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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Whole Foods has officially pissed me off one too many times. If I ever go there again it will be with a pet lobster on a leash behind me following a trail of foie gras bits that I will toss it as food.

I'm pretty much right there with ya. I made wings a couple weeks ago, and went to whole foods to pick up some blue cheese dressing... the stuff I've gotten there before (in the dairy area) was the best I've ever had. Well, no more. Now all they carry are some fru-fru blue cheese salad dressings (in the "salad section"). I was stunned. Kept running around the store looking for it.

Looks like if I want a proper, chunky blue cheese dressing, I'll have to start making my own, because none of the stuff I'm finding in the stores seems to live up to my expectations anymore.

__Jason

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...

Whole Foods has officially pissed me off one too many times. If I ever go there again it will be with a pet lobster on a leash behind me following a trail of foie gras bits that I will toss it as food.

You may also want to drag an Italian proscuitto and perhaps other foreign charcuterie that no longer meets their specs. I'm not sure if the Italian proscuitto missed snuff b/c of nitrates or other issues. There is a thread on it; but I'm not sure if a consensus was arrived at why they discontinued carrying it...

There was. Decisions were left up to regional managers who in my area discontinued true Parma ham because some members of the Italian consortium for Prosciutto di Parma used hormones during the first 30 days of the pigs's lives. One distributor for San Daniele promised not to do so. So, Whole Foods agreed to carry San Daniele, a Friulian product as opposed to one from Emilia-Romagna. Different pigs, different region. As good as San Daniele is, it's not Parmese Prosciutto.

Bell and Evans agreed to be incorporated, i.e., to have WF stamp its company's name on B & E chicken. B & E claims its chickens are free-range which techniquely speaking means the farmers can let them out of their coop for the last 30 days of their lives to qualify, something they're hesitant to do at this late point in their lives according to Michael Pollan in "Omnivore's Dilemma". They're not pumped up with water and are "natural".

Eberly always costs more than B & E because their birds are truly organic*. I tend not shy away from the higher price, but bought them now and again, because the company actually sells little birds, less than the 4 lbs or higher that is the norm nowadays when everything bigger is supposed to be better. (Thus, the emu and ostrich eggs in a brand-new WF being discussed on donrockwell.com, my area's local "foodie" site.) This fall I got a small Eberly bird to roast a la Zuni Cafe when a friend was in town. So, so good!

*Edited to acknowledge this term is still as slippery as the word "natural". Edited second time to clarify by filling in the blanks on sentences written in haste.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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So I guess the next thing one would try to do is find out who packages the poultry for Whole Foods.  Wouldn't there be a chance that Eberly's doing a private label thing for them?

Hi, Jan! I believe WF's no-name chicken is Bell & Evans. Not bad, but not as good as Eberly.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Eberly always costs more than B & E because their birds are truly organic*.  I tend not shy away from the higher price, but bought them now and again, because the company actually sells little birds, less than the 4 lbs or higher that is the norm nowadays when everything bigger is supposed to be better.  (Thus, the emu and ostrich eggs in a brand-new WF being discussed on donrockwell.com, my  area's local "foodie" site.)  This fall I got a small Eberly bird to roast a la Zuni Cafe when a friend was in town.  So, so good!

*Edited to acknowledge this term is still as slippery as the word "natural".

Your comment about the size of the Eberly birds is a good point. There were always Eberly chickens available that were the perfect size for 2 people.

Ah, memories of chicken at Zuni Cafe... we thought that we had been exaggerating how good the chicken there was in our memories of our first time there, but we were back two months ago and had our minds blown yet again.

rlibkind, are you saying that the new Whole Foods branded birds are just Bell & Evans?

Edited by dagordon (log)
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A couple of months ago we decided to see if there was anything to the "air chilled" chicken fad, so we got a Bell & Evans air chilled chicken from Whole Foods and roasted it as usual. There was absolutely no comparison with the Eberly birds we were used to. The texture was actually pretty good but in the taste department not satisfying at all.

Dave......air chilling is actually just a processing method that reduces water retention.

You still have to find an air chilled poulet that has been fed a good diet so it tastes good.

LBF uses Eberly's chicken.

Bell and Evans like Niman Ranch is one of those entities that started with good intentions but have gotten far too big to uphold the original mission statement.

For a truly tasty airchilled chicken, what you want are dem canadian birds.

http://www.giannonepoultry.com/

Hit me up if you need one, I buy it by the case.

The california bluefoot chickens are much tastier than the Eberly's.

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Dave......air chilling is actually just a processing method that reduces water retention.

You still have to find an air chilled poulet that has been fed a good diet so it tastes good.

LBF uses Eberly's chicken.

Bell and Evans like Niman Ranch is one of those entities that started with good intentions but have gotten far too big to uphold the original mission statement.

For a truly tasty airchilled chicken, what you want are dem canadian birds.

http://www.giannonepoultry.com/

Hit me up if you need one, I buy it by the case.

Yes, I've been meaning to try these, I've heard about them. I need one. :smile:

The california bluefoot chickens are much tastier than the Eberly's.

OK, I need one of these too. It sounds like they're an attempt to reproduce the poulet de Bresse, which is (at least sometimes) what's served at L'Ami Louis, which serves the greatest chicken in the universe.

We just stopped by RTM and Giunta's does indeed have a steady supply of Eberly birds (in fact, it sounds like he gets them in significantly more frequently than Whole Foods). We're quite happy about that. Charles was very nice and even said that we could have him special order various goodies from Eberly as long as we give him enough notice.

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rlibkind, are you saying that the new Whole Foods branded birds are just Bell & Evans?

I don't know that for a fact. I do know that when I asked (admittedly, about a year ago) whose chicken it was unmarked in the butcher case, they said it was Bell & Evans. That was at the Callowhill & 20th store.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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rlibkind, are you saying that the new Whole Foods branded birds are just Bell & Evans?

I don't know that for a fact. I do know that when I asked (admittedly, about a year ago) whose chicken it was unmarked in the butcher case, they said it was Bell & Evans. That was at the Callowhill & 20th store.

I think there's some confusion. Whole Foods has always sold whole chickens that are more or less unmarked, just with a Whole Foods price label (the white label in the picture below). These are Bell & Evans. They sometimes have a very small Bell & Evans sticker slapped on saying, I think, "air chilled".

There are now whole chickens at Whole Foods in addition to these that are prominently branded "Whole Foods". According to the meat people at the 9th St location this is a new product entirely; my impression is that Whole Foods is to some extent involved in their production. These, according to the meat people, are what has replaced the Eberly chickens. Here is a picture:

gallery_21675_3170_119225.jpg

Pontormo, you have reason to believe that these too are Bell & Evans?

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Genuardi's stopped selling Smart CHickens (those air-dried/chilled antibiotic free chickens). When I went to find another retailer, I was disappointed to find that the website did not list any other retailers in PA.

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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We are chicken farmers, so this is one subject I can shed some light on. Just like beef, genetics, along with environment and feed, all have an influence upon the quality and taste of the meat. The Eberly birds are raised in true free-range conditions, but the birds are the conventional breeds of Cornish X; they basically hang out at the food trough, but they do grow great breasts and mature at 7 weeks. They are raised in smaller flocks and hand processed. They hold their flavor quite well when frozen so you may want to think in terms of several birds at a time.

The blue-foot is a French breed that likes to actually move. We raise four breeds, very similar to the blue-foot, that have different strengths of flavor. We have food custom-milled, and supplement the finish feed with extra corn, and we’ll be adding goat milk to their diet this year. These birds don’t get quite as large as the Cornish X, and take 3-6 weeks longer to get to size. When all is done, they are not the same chickens that have ever been available at WFs. They are similar to chickens that were available 40 years ago in the U.S.

When people go into WF and buy an organic free-range chicken, they are getting an organic-fed bird that is raised in a house with about 60,000 other birds. There is a door open for access to the “pasture”. Typically 6 out of 60,000 are roaming around. Most likely lost, since they ain’t too smart. They are grown to specific sizes and then mass processed. The processing lines are so large now that they need to be fed 12,000 birds an hour. The largest small-scale producers grow 20,000 birds a year. It’s not enough to keep a line going for a couple of hours.

I know when we raise 1000 birds we loose money at $4/pound so if the blue-foots are available (squab.com) for about $6 it seems like a pretty fair price.

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We are chicken farmers, so this is one subject I can shed some light on.  Just like beef, genetics, along with environment and feed, all have an influence upon the quality and taste of the meat.  The Eberly birds are raised in true free-range conditions, but the birds are the conventional breeds of Cornish X; they basically hang out at the food trough, but they do grow great breasts and mature at 7 weeks.  They are raised in smaller flocks and hand processed.  They hold their flavor quite well when frozen so you may want to think in terms of several birds at a time.

The blue-foot is a French breed that likes to actually move.  We raise four breeds, very similar to the blue-foot, that have different strengths of flavor. We have food custom-milled, and supplement the finish feed with extra corn, and we’ll be adding goat milk to their diet this year.  These birds don’t get quite as large as the Cornish X, and take 3-6 weeks longer to get to size.  When all is done, they are not the same chickens that have ever been available at WFs.  They are similar to chickens that were available 40 years ago in the U.S.

When people go into WF and buy an organic free-range chicken, they are getting an organic-fed bird that is raised in a house with about 60,000 other birds.  There is a door open for access to the “pasture”.  Typically 6 out of 60,000 are roaming around.  Most likely lost, since they ain’t too smart.  They are grown to specific sizes and then mass processed.  The processing lines are so large now that they need to be fed 12,000 birds an hour.  The largest small-scale producers grow 20,000 birds a year.  It’s not enough to keep a line going for a couple of hours.

I know when we raise 1000 birds we loose money at $4/pound so if the blue-foots are available (squab.com) for about $6 it seems like a pretty fair price.

Thank you for your post! This is, of course, very interesting.

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So, we made the Whole Foods chicken pictured above over the weekend. Honestly, it wasn't bad. But it wasn't very good either. It didn't have a whole lot of flavor. More importantly, though, the texture was quite strange -- mushy, almost.

My girlfriend claimed that it released an unusually large amount of liquid during cooking and when cut. I don't know if this somehow explains the texture issue.

Edited by dagordon (log)
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