Green Circle Organics Organic Bourbon Beef Roast is the first organic heat-and-serve product to go on the plates and palates of our BEEF Taste Test. All in all, our panel made up of BEEF editors and staff of the Minnesota Beef Council found the product respectable but not a great value.

The panel gave the product high ratings in the three individual categories of packaging, convenience and sensory factors. In these three major areas, the product averaged a very respectable 4.55 (5-point scale).

That showing, however, contrasts with its rather modest overall ranking — an 8 (on a 10-point scale). That score positions the product in the lower third of the 29 convenience beef products critiqued thus far.

Panelists apparently felt the sum of this product's parts didn't add up to much beyond average. Panelists, for instance, were critical of the packaging design, the price and the product's juiciness.

In addition, at least three of the six panelists thought the dish was too heavy on its cayenne pepper seasoning. That's likely a drawback to having Southern cuisine critiqued by a panel consisting totally of Northerners.

Based out of Washington, VA, Green Circle Organics markets products from “a network of small family ranchers” featuring pasture-raised Wagyu and Angus genetics. Its Web site www.greencircle.com says the cattle are certified organic and “humanely raised” without antibiotics and growth promotants, and on feed free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and genetically modified organisms.

Green Circle Organics Bourbon Beef Roast
Does the package clearly identify the entree? 4.0 Packaging
0-5 point scale
Are the preparation instructions complete? 4.8
Nutrition information 4.4
Easy to prepare 4.9 Convenience
0-5 point scale
Preparation time 5.0
Serving size 4.4
Does it visually present well? 4.2 Sensory Factors
0-5 point scale
Flavor 4.5
Tenderness 4.5
Palatibility 4.8
Is it juicy? 4.1
Overall value — 10-point scale 8.0

The fresh and frozen beef line, marketed through both retail and restaurant, includes portion-cut and case-ready steaks, roasts and flavored ground beef. The Organic Bourbon Beef Roast product the panel tasted is part of a new heat-and-serve line that also includes Organic Southwestern Style Beef Meatloaf, Organic Parmesan Beef Meatballs & Sauce and Organic Italian-Style Beef Pot Roast.

Organic Bourbon Beef Roast sells for a suggested retail of $10.99 for a 16-oz. package that is available at Whole Foods stores in the mid-Atlantic, Southwest and Northeast regions of the U.S., as well as Florida.

Its highest individual scores were in the two convenience sub-categories of preparation time (a perfect score of 5) and ease of preparation (4.9). The product also rated a pair of 4.8s in completeness of preparation instructions and product texture. After that, individual sub-category scores fell to 4.5 and below, but no lower than 4.

“Yummy flavor. This is a product that actually looks better on the plate than on the package,” said one panelist. “Overpriced,” said another, who thought the serving size was inadequate.

“I like its low sodium level (280 mg), compared to other microwave convenience products. I also like its convenience as shown by its small preparation time (5-6 minutes) and no cleanup. I also liked the side-dish suggestions included on the packaging,” another panelist said.

Still another said, “I like this dish and its an interesting marketing approach — targeting organic consumers with convenience foods.”