High-quality meat from small farms at a decent price delivered to your door.
A statement like that sure gets my attention.
So when I heard a friend talk about Crowd Cow in this way, I wanted to give the service a shot.
I’ve tried a fair share of meat delivery services over the years. And while these services have saved me and my family of five a lot of time, they’re not exactly cheap.
A value pack of ground beef at Costo or Walmart is about 50% less expensive than what I pay when ordering meat online.
But as someone who cares about both healthy eating and the environmental impact of the foods I consume, I’m willing to spend more to buy high-quality meat from farms that raise their animals using healthy, humane and sustainable methods.
That said, I’m always looking for the service that provides the best balance of quality and cost.
In this Crowd Cow review, I’ll talk about my personal experience with the company, which I’ve now ordered from twice.
Crowd Cow is an organic meat delivery service that offers high-quality "craft meat" at great prices — from everyday staples like grass fed ground beef to hard-to-find cuts like authentic Japanese A5 Wagyu.
- Bulk savings starting at just six pounds.
- Sourced from independent farms and ranches (and you can see exactly where your meat comes from).
- Fast and reliable delivery.
- Shipping fees for all orders under $99.
- Smaller selection than some other services, especially if you're looking for prepared meats (like pot roast) and snacks (like beef jerky and beef sticks).
What Is Crowd Cow?
When I order meat from other popular online meat delivery services, I know the handful of farms that the meat comes from.
In this regard, Crowd Cow is different from its competitors. The meat doesn’t just come from one farm, or even from multiple farms owned by Crowd Cow. Instead, the company sources meat from a relatively large number of very small independent farms and ranches.
As I write this, there are a total of 45 different farms that have partnered with Crowd Cow, which include sources for fish and other sustainable seafood.
This enables the company to offer a very wide variety of products, from your standard cuts of beef to more exotic options like high-end Japanese Wagyu and bison.
As a customer, there are two options for ordering:
- You can shop by individual farm on Crowd Cow à la carte. This way, you’ll know the exact farming practices and location.
- You can become a member, which is free and gets you a 5% discount on your order. You then shop their pre-selected offerings. For most items, you still know the specific farm. Other times, a certain item may come from one of many farms. As an example, there are potentially two farms (Raised Rite and True Grit) that the New York Strip Steak shown below could come from.
Founders Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry — both veterans of the Seattle tech scene, with Lowry having co-founded the popular Urbanspoon app and Joe coming from leading the startup incubator Madrona Venture Group — happened upon this idea because they were each having trouble finding a good source of beef for their personal consumption.
Heitzeberg and Lowry loved the idea of eating beef from a small farm that raised its animals responsibly, but most of the farms they found required them to buy a quarter or a half of a cow (which can cost over $1,000).
Plus, that large amount of meat requires a lot of storage.
This is very similar to my own experience. To avoid buying factory-farmed meat, I’ve tried local meat CSAs, the farmers market, buying direct from local farms and even asked friends if they wanted to split a quarter of a cow.
All of these options have their pros and cons, with the one common factor being that each takes time — whether that’s the 30-minute drive (with a limited pickup window) to grab the meat CSA or calling around to work out the logistics of sourcing a cow and splitting the costs with friends
It’s for this reason that Lowry suggested they “crowdfund” purchasing a cow, getting 50 people to buy into a single animal. That way, more people could take part in buying meat from these incredible small farms without having to pay for a half of a cow upfront.
While that was the original idea, Crowd Cow has since expanded beyond cows.
Here’s what they now offer:
- 100% grass fed beef
- Pasture-raised grain fed beef
- American Wagyu beef
- Japanese Wagyu beef
- Free-range, pasture raised chicken
- Game meats (like venison and duck)
- Pork (including sausage, bacon, etc.)
- Sustainable seafood
Crowd Cow also sells ground meats, spices, dog treats and a variety of other meat-related items.
All of the company’s meats are sourced from local, independent farmers and co-ops, and are free of artificial hormones. Crowd Cow does not source meat from the mega meat industry or from factory farms.
Note: Crowd Cow exclusively offers meat items. If you’re looking for a good produce and fresh-food delivery option, check out my Imperfect Foods review.
Ordering From Crowd Cow
Part of the reason a middleman like Crowd Cow is helpful in connecting customers with small independent farms is that building and maintaining a modern e-commerce website requires a lot of resources and know-how.
So by selling their products through the Crowd Cow platform, farmers can get back to doing what they do best.
Before you order from Crowd Cow, remember that there are two options:
- You can order items à la carte.
- You can sign up for a membership, which saves you 5%.
It’s a no brainer to sign up for a membership. It’s free, easy to cancel, saves you 5% and gives you free shipping on orders over $99.
However, what signing up for a membership also does is make it so that your order will automatically repeat every month until you change or cancel it — so be aware of that if you choose to take advantage of the 5% discount.
Note: You can save an extra $25 off your first order by using this link (the discount will be automatically applied). We’ve partnered with Crowd Cow for this offer, so if you sign up using any of the links in this article, we’ll also receive $25.
Making Crowd Cow Budget-Friendly
My family of five spends a good amount of money on high-quality food. But by no means do we have an unlimited budget.
Plus, we don’t currently have a chest freezer, which means we can’t take advantage of some of the great bulk specials offered by services like U.S. Wellness Meats, which usually start at a minimum of 25 pounds.
So one of the things I like about Crowd Cow is that they offer “Butcher Specials,” with bulk savings starting at six pounds of meat.
It’s here where Crowd Cow really brings their prices down compared to the competition, offering up to 20% off their regular prices.
In fact, this is a lower price and much higher quality than you’d find buying à la carte at stores like Whole Foods.
Once you visit Crowd Cow and take a look at their product selection, you’ll see that they offer an extremely wide selection of meats and cuts — from competitively-priced ground beef to a $400+ Japanese A5 Wagyu prime rib.
If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, it can be hard to not add some of their premium cuts to your shipment.
My orders typically consist of the cheaper cuts of meat — things like ground beef, pork, chicken thighs, etc. But I do usually allow myself a single splurge item, like a ribeye steak or bone-in pork chops.
Recently, we splurged and ordered Crowd Cow’s American Wagyu boneless ribeye steak. The steak retails for $65 on the site, or $61.75 with the 5% membership discount.
The Wagyu ribeye we received came from Mishima Reserve, which sells their beef primarily to high-end restaurants.
Here’s what it looked like without the packaging:
We ended up using the sous vide method for this one, cooking it for exactly an hour at 130 degrees, then giving it a quick sear on the cast iron.
It didn’t disappoint.
As someone who has tried choice cuts of Wagyu only a handful of times in my life, what really stood out to me was the flavor. Comparing this to the pasture-raised ribeye I’ve ordered from Crowd Cow before, the flavor was a step above.
Next time a special occasion comes around, I’ll be ordering it again.
Crowd Cow Delivery
Crowd Cow ships products fairly quickly. Both of my two orders arrived within three business days.
The company states on their website that shipping times vary by region, and can be as fast as two days. You also get email and text updates.
But beyond these basics, a few things really stand out about Crowd Cow’s delivery process.
First off, both times I’ve ordered, the contents inside the box have been frozen solid, with the dry ice still very much intact.
This hasn’t always been my experience when ordering meat online, as twice an order from Butcher Box came with the dry ice melted and the meat above 40 degrees, which is considered unsafe.
So, for me and my wife — who is a registered dietician, a certified food safety manager, and has learned perhaps a little too much about food safety over the years — this was a big positive.
Second, both of my boxes have come with a handwritten note, which told me the farm my meat was sourced from.
In one instance (as shown below), that was Gunthrop Farms of Lagrange, Indiana. (Parts of my order were actually sourced from two farms, but primarily from Gunthrop, which is the closest in proximity to my home.)
Finally, the shipping box is 100% carbon neutral and recyclable. Although it looked like styrofoam, the cooler was actually 100% recyclable. You can compost it, light it on fire, or even dissolve it in water.
I ended up taking it outside and throwing the hose on it; shortly thereafter, that large cooler ended up looking like this:
Crowd Cow Quality
The quality has been fantastic both times I’ve ordered from Crowd Cow.
This was important, because while ordering directly from farms is an option, I didn’t go that route.
For example, one of my orders was for the “Labor of Love” bundle pictured below, which contains meat from multiple sources. And I was concerned that getting meat from multiple farms and ranches — which may have different practices and quality standards — could produce an inconsistent experience.
Between my two orders, I’ve now had meat from four different farms on the Crowd Cow platform — and it’s all been great.
What’s nice is that Crowd Cow makes it easy to not only see where your meat is from, but also to learn more if you want to.
As I said above, I was worried that getting meat from multiple farms might result in mixed product quality. If that were true, it would mean that you’d never really know just how good your order would be until you received it.
And that lack of confidence would keep me from ordering.
Fortunately, that ended up not being the case, as there was no discernible difference in quality between Order #1 to Order #2.
Here’s what the ribeye, which came from True Grit Cattle Co. in Slippery Rock, PA (and cost $29) looked like:
When I compare it to other meat delivery services, it’s top of the line.
The only service where I’ve found better quality is White Oak Pastures. Some of their specialty items are off the charts, but they also tend to run a lot higher in cost — as in, they’re worth trying at least once in your life.
Note: You can actually shop at White Oak Pastures through Crowd Cow.
For me, Crowd Cow’s quality is the best available at what I would consider a reasonable price point.
Crowd Cow Pros and Cons
- Very good quality.
- Fast delivery.
- Modern, easy-to-use website.
- Butcher Specials allow you to buy cheaper items, like ground beef and chicken, at budget-friendly prices.
- If you want extremely high-end meats, Crowd Cow has cuts such as American and Japanese Wagyu, including Kagoshima A5 Wagyu and Kobe beef.
- There’s a shipping fee for orders under $99, even if you’re a member.
- Orders may come from different farms, and therefore not be of exactly the same quality.
- They have a very good selection of different cuts, but not as many as U.S. Wellness Meats.
Crowd Cow vs. U.S. Wellness Meats
If you’re considering ordering from U.S. Wellness Meats, one of the larger organic meat delivery services, here are a few things to know about the differences between them and Crowd Cow.
First off, here’s how their per-pound prices stack up for a few common items, not factoring in any potential discounts or bulk savings.
|Product||Crowd Cow||U.S. Wellness|
|Whole Organic Chicken||$5.70||$6.88|
In terms of quality, I found the two services to be similar (very, very good). You’re not going to be disappointed with either.
Since they source from only a handful of farms (which they own) U.S. Wellness Meats is going to be a bit more consistent than Crowd Cow, though whether or not you’ll notice that is an open question. (I’ve found the difference to be minimal.)
The other benefit of U.S. Wellness Meats is their very wide selection.
It’s hard to say who has more variety. However, as I’ve been a long-time customer of U.S. Wellness, some of their options — like the prepared pot roast and their beef sticks — are family favorites. These are items that Crowd Cow doesn’t offer.
But when it comes to value, I’ve found Crowd Cow to be the better option.
As mentioned earlier, U.S. Wellness Meats doesn’t offer bulk savings opportunities on everyday items like ground beef, unless you’re purchasing 25 pounds or more. As a result, the cheaper cuts of meat (which are what we eat the majority of the time) are a lot less expensive at Crowd Cow.
And it’s for this reason that I prefer Crowd Cow over U.S. Wellness Meats: while the quality is nearly identical, the overall costs tend to be much lower.
You can certainly go very-high end on Crowd Cow as well. But as someone who regularly (and primarily) buys cheaper cuts, and who wants to get bulk pricing without having to buy 25+ pounds of meat, Crowd Cow is the clear winner.
Crowd Cow Review Summary: Is It Worth It?
Here’s why I feel Crowd Cow is worth it:
- Cheaper prices on everyday cuts like ground beef, chicken thighs and chicken breasts.
- You’re supporting small, independent farms that are raising their meat in a responsible manner (mostly in the United States, though Crowd Cow does source different cuts — primarily very rare ones — from around the world).
- It’s saved me a lot of time, as I would have had to drive to multiple stores and a good distance to get this quality of meat.
- 100% recyclable packaging.
- And of course, the quality is fantastic. From their ground beef to their brisket to their filet mignon, Crowd Cow’s products live up to their moniker of “craft meat.”
As I mentioned earlier, I also wrote a review of Crowd Cow and three other meat delivery services I’ve tried.
Looking for a Crowd Cow promo code? Just sign up using this link — you’ll get a $25 discount automatically applied to your order with no need to enter a promo code at checkout.
And if you’re looking for ways to cut your food budget and spend less at the grocery store — maybe to make room for some of the high-quality craft meat discussed in this review — check out this guide to saving money on groceries.