The unsavory costs behind cheap rotisserie chicken

Few supermarket offerings are as nostalgic, as alluring, and as indelible as rotisserie chickens—those glistening, golden jewels of birds perpetually aglow under heat lamps—a product as mouth-watering as it is dirt cheap. Sometimes going for as low as $4.99, rotisserie chickens are often a loss leader at grocery stores, sold for less than they cost to entice shoppers to spend more overall. In turn, families across the country have found countless ways to turn a single bird into a week’s worth of meals, making them an economical option for budgets of all kinds. But the deal comes at a cost: To be competitive, production depends heavily on contract farming arrangements that disenfranchise producers, and processing plants where workers are at constant risk of injury (especially during a pandemic). Taste Cooking carves out the thorny, complex economic apparatus that keeps our cheap chicken flowing.

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