The online meat delivery service industry is rapidly expanding, and Porter Road and Crowd Cow are two of the top names. Both companies offer premium cuts of grass-fed beef, but which is the better option?
To give you the best recommendation possible, I sourced meat from both companies for two months. Here is what I learned.
Crowd Cow vs Porter Road: Key Differences
The main differences between these two services are their selection variety and the types of packages offered.
Porter Road lets you buy meat on a monthly basis in five curated subscription boxes. Crowd Cow, on the other hand, does not curate, but allows you to customize every package you purchase.
Both companies let you order beef, pork, chicken, and other meat staples. However, Crowd Cow has a broader range of options, including game meats, seafood, and Wagyu beef.
Comparing Their Features Head to Head
Let's take a look at the features of Porter Road and Crowd Cow and how they compare.
1. Sourcing and Quality
When searching for a meat service, it's important to find a company that sources its beef from reputable farms that raises their animals humanely and does not use hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.
Porter Road avoids industry buzzwords like 'organic' and 'cage-free,' but they are very particular about their suppliers. The service sources its meat from farms in Tennessee and Kentucky that are close enough to their Nashville headquarters that Porter Road can inspect them regularly .
The Porter Road team goes to these farms and makes sure that the livestock is being pasture-raised outside, given proper attention, and provided only vegetarian feed. They do certify that the animals are never given growth hormones or antibiotics and that their feed is free from hazardous chemicals.
Once grown, the livestock is brought to their Kentucky facility, where the butchers carefully hand-cut the meat before beginning the dry-aging process.
The beef is dry-aged for a minimum of 14 days, which adds flavor and tenderness to the beef and is what gives Porter Road a reputation for exceptional meat quality.
Founded by Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg, Crowd Cow is committed to pasture-raised meats from top-quality farms. The company has a network of over 50 ranches and small family farms worldwide so that it can bring the customer the best pasture-raised meats possible.
You can get Kobe beef directly from Japan, pasture-raised pork from the American Midwest, wild-caught seafood and fish from Alaska and Norway, and poultry from a wide selection of American small and family farms that produce meat in a sustainable manner.
Each seafood, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken supplier that Crowd Cow works with is clearly identified on the website. They also have put labels on the site so the consumer can determine what sort of meat the farms raised: organic, sustainable, pasture-raised, free-range, hormone-free, dry-aged, antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef, etc.
The Crowd Cow's dedication to transparency means that you, the customer, can make an informed decision about what kind of meat you want to purchase. More than that, you can ensure that your family is getting the healthiest, most humanely-raised, and highest-quality beef available.
2. Meal Plans and Pricing
Of course, meat quality is essential, but it's also important to find a service that offers a variety of meal plans and pricing options to fit your family's needs.
Porter Road is a subscription-based service, which means you sign up for a meal plan of a certain amount of meat per month - delivered directly to your door. The company offers five meat subscription packages:
- Butcher's Choice Box - This box weighs 8-10 pounds and they charge $165 per month for it.
- Weeknight Hero's Box - This box has 9.1 pounds of meat and costs $120.
- Best Of Porter Road Box - This choice is $115 for 8 pounds of meat.
- Beef Box - The Beef Box is 8 pounds of meat for $140.
- Beef And Pork Basics Box - It costs $120 for nine pounds of meat.
All the choices come with ground beef, some steaks, and other animal protein. Once you have selected your box, you are presented with the opportunity to add a la carte items to your subscription.
The choices here are plentiful and include the most high-quality beef and pasture-raised chicken cuts that you would want.
You can adjust delivery to two, four, or six weeks or cancel altogether at any time. There is no long-term commitment required.
In order to provide a comparison with Crowd Cow, here are some sample prices:
- Whole chicken - $35.00
- Bacon - $8.00
- Filet mignon - $26.00
Crowd Cow is also a membership service, but it allows for more customization than its competition. Rather than having pre-made, curated choices available, Crowd Cow lets the customer build their own box with individual cuts of high-quality meat.
The company lets you choose whether you want your box to be a one-time purchase or a recurring one.
If you sign up for a membership, the shop lets you choose how frequently you want to buy pasture-raised meat. You can cancel the subscription whenever you want. Membership comes with a number of benefits, including discounts on shipping and all the food.
Since every meat box is 100% customized at Crowd Cow, there is no easy way to compare box prices. Thus, I'll provide a comparison to the a la carte add-ons from Porter Road.
- Whole chicken - $16.36
- Bacon - $7.33
- Filet mignon - $19.10
3. Menu and Selection
Another factor to consider when choosing between services is the meat selection available.
Porter Road offers a varied menu, with most of its offerings being different cuts of beef, pork, and chicken. They do have some pre-flavored meat and seasonings available as a la carte add-ons, but they mainly offer the standard meat cuts.
Those cuts are plentiful, however. Steak meal options include all the basic cuts like New York strip steak, ribeye, Kansas City strip steak, sirloin, ground beef, and filet mignon. They also carry sierra, bavette, merlot steaks, and osso buco. Chuck roast, brisket, round roast, tenderloin, and picanha are also available for purchase.
From pigs, they carry pork chops, ground, tenderloin, bacon, and short ribs. They also have a wide variety of sausage products like chorizo, Italian, bratwurst, andouille, and breakfast sausage.
As you might expect, they have all the chicken cuts such as breasts, wings, thighs, and drumsticks. You also can buy a whole chicken from Porter Road.
The meat selection options are more extensive than those at Porter Road or your local butcher.
In addition to grass-finished beef and pasture-raised chicken basics, Crowd Cow has many specialty meats. Some of these are:
- Bison - grass-fed buffalo ribeye, tenderloin, buffalo burgers, NY strip, and buffalo bratwurst
- Lamb - chops, rack or leg of lamb, tamales
- Turkey - ground turkey, deli-sliced turkey breast
- Duck - fully cooked duck leg confit, half duck, smoked duck breast, rendered duck fat
- Elk and venison - tenderloin
- Wild boar - andouille sausage, tenderloin, ground boar
- Wagyu - both American and A5 Japanese wagyu available - filet mignon, ribeye, NY strip, top sirloin, ground beef, rump roast, burgers, hot dogs, chuck, skirt, tenderloin, and much more
- Seafood - salmon, trout, shrimp, sea bass, lobster, cod, swordfish, scallops, and more
4. Shipping and Packaging
The final factor to consider is how the meat is shipped and packaged.
Porter Road ships its pasture-raised meat anywhere in the 48 contiguous US states. And one of its greatest benefits is that shipping is free on any of its curated boxes.
My order arrived in an insulated standard cardboard shipper with gel packs. The insulation is necessary because it keeps the meat frozen until you can get it in your freezer.
This insulating material is made of cornstarch and can either be burned or dissolved in water, resulting in an ecologically sustainable product.
Crowd Cow also ships to all states except Alaska and Hawaii. The business offers free shipping on all orders over $125 to its members and free shipping on orders over $149 for non-members. For orders under those cutoffs, shipping costs a flat rate of $19.99.
"Crowd Cow is a win for meat lovers and the environment. By buying meat from Crowd Cow, you're helping us reduce waste and conserve resources, while supporting producers who are at the forefront of sustainable meat production."
- Crowd Cow.
Crowd Cow has 100% recyclable packaging and compostable insulation. Dry ice is used to keep the meat cold during transit. The insulation in the box is similar to that of Porter Road - burnable, dissolvable, and even can be composted .
Porter Road vs Crowd Cow: Our Winner
Although they are both top-notch services, after ordering meat online with Porter Road and Crowd Cow, I have to give the edge to Crowd Cow.
It offers a more customizable experience, better prices, and a much wider variety of beef, pork, lamb, and specialty meat types for your next meal.
For more information about Crowd Cow, check them out here.