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FAQs

General

How much do you charge for delivery?

Nothing. Ever! Delivery is only local, and always free!

How much flexibility is there in my subscription? I don't want to be locked into a long-term commitment. 

Your subscription is very flexible. It's pay-as-you-go, and you can cancel any time with no penalty. Additionally, you pick your delivery frequency: monthly or every-other-month (and in some cases you may choose every third month). Finally, you can always choose to skip a delivery month. 

What cuts will I get in my provisions? Can I customize?

You entrust us to choose your mix of cuts in your provisions subscriptions, which ensures none of the animal is wasted, and keeps costs down.

But we seek and learn your preferences, allowing us to optimize curation for you month-to-month. For example, we certainly can exclude cuts you just don't like. We also accommodate dietary restrictions.  

There are also ample Add-On options for subscribers, to further customize each delivery. 

For more detail, check out this page on what to expect, and this page on accommodating preferences, and let us know if you have additional questions.  

When will I get my first delivery of provisions?

We operate on a monthly cycle, but we try to be flexible. Generally, if you subscribe in the early part of a month, you'll get your first delivery that month, and if you subscribe late in a month, you'll get your first delivery the following month. We email you updates on when you can expect your first delivery (and subsequent deliveries). Email us, please, if you ever have any questions about timing. 

How are you responding to COVID-19?

We practice no-contact delivery, leaving your provisions on your doorstep. Our team is very small, so we're able to closely track everyone's health. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Is the meat organic?

No. But we say it's better than organic. That of course needs explanation: Organic certification for meat means that animals are given organic feed and/or are grazed on organic pasture, and additionally that they are not administered antibiotics or hormones (that's the short version; detail from USDA here). But animals raised to be certified organic meat can, and generally are, fed grains. Eating grain is not natural for ruminant animals like cattle, and beef that comes from grain-fed cattle is less healthy than 100% grass-fed beef.  Moreover, getting organic certification from the USDA is a costly process; for small farmers like our partners, it can be a prohibitive cost. So even in cases where small farmers meet organic criteria, they often choose not to pursue certification. 

Seafood is not eligible for organic certification. Our fish is wild-caught in local Atlantic, Chesapeake and Potomac waters with approved, sustainable catch methods.  

Is the beef dry-aged?

Absolutely. We dry-age our grass-fed beef for about 10 days, which we believe is a sweet spot for developing tenderness and deepening flavor. 

When will you add chicken?

A lot of you want chicken, we know!  We have partnered with a local chicken farm, the chickens are growing at pasture now, and they'll be ready for our customers for July 2021. Learn more and register for a launch promotion

Note: Most of the "free range" chicken you come across, even when locally-sourced is NOT pasture-raised, but rather raised in indoor confinement settings with token access to the outdoors -- the chickens are "free" to go outside... but pretty disincentivized to do so.  

The meat's frozen? That's not as good as fresh, is it?

In most cases, frozen is more reliably "fresh" than fresh. What the heck could that mean? Well, we butcher and freeze your meat at its peak (which for beef is right after dry-aging, which adds flavor, and for pork and fish is immediately after slaughter). Once frozen, the quality is locked in, effectively, and it will stay that way in our below-0 freezers.  

In contrast, that "fresh" meat you get at the grocery store or from a big-talking website may actually have been recently slaughtered and packed... but it may not have been.  Even worse, many distributors and retails practice what is terrifyingly referred to as Modified Atmosphere Packaging, which basically means pumping the meat package full of a gas that will keep the meat looking fresh... while getting old.  Generally you won't know any of this is going on, as grocers aren't required to put packing dates on their labels.  

As the USDA itself asserts, "If frozen at peak quality, thawed foods emerge tasting better than foods frozen near the end of their useful life."

Will this take up all my freezer space?

Probably not. A 10-lb. delivery takes up about one cubic foot.  A 5-lb. delivery, half that. And don't forget, you can always skip your next delivery if you're not working through your last one fast enough. 

Post-Delivery

How did you decide what cuts to give me?

We allocate cuts based on the provisions type you’ve chosen, availability, and -- within reason -- individual preferences. We source from our farmer partners each month based on the animals they’re fully raised, and the needs of our growing subscriber base. (More detail.)

How long can I keep my provisions in my freezer?

From a food safety perspective, forever, basically. The USDA is clear that freezing at or below 0°F “keeps food safe indefinitely.” Quality can decrease with freezer time, but think in terms of months not weeks, and in any case, frozen food quality is determined much more by the meat being frozen at peak freshness, which your provisions were, than by freezer time. 

Just remember to thaw your provisions slowly, if you can. In the fridge is best. In a bowl of cold water is fine. Try to avoid microwaving. A slow thaw maintains the quality that's locked into the freeze; a microwave-aided fast thaw will reduce quality. 

If the vacuum-sealed plastic around the meat has split, is that OK?

It is OK. The split will have occurred once the meat was already frozen, so it’s still safe to eat. If you want to keep it frozen for a while, you should put an additional plastic freezer bag over it. However, if you would like a replacement cut next month, just email support@nearcountry.com and we’ll replace it for you free of charge.

Does pasture-raised meat look different?

Often, yes!

Bacon - It’s not pink! That’s because it was made without nitrates, which are used to cure the bacon you get at the grocery store and even from many farm-direct sources. But nitrates can be harmful, so we don’t use them in making your bacon. 

Ground meat - It’s not red! That’s because we vacuum-seal it immediately. When you see meat at the store with a reddish hue, it’s because someone’s let air in intentionally, oxidizing the meat, and turning it the color they think you want to see. Beef that hasn’t started oxidizing is naturally purplish.  See FAQ above on frozen vs. fresh ("The meat's frozen?") for more detail. 

Subscription Account Management

Why can't I get into my online account?

A common reason is this: Signing up for a subscription does not automatically enable an online account. Subscribers do need to activate their online accounts by clicking through on an activation email that we send you. But since you get a handful of emails from us around the time you sign up, it's possible you missed the one with the online account activation link. We can easily resend you a new one. Just email us to request it. 

How do I skip a month of deliveries?

It's very straightforward to do it yourself through your online account.  But if you would like us to do it for you, just ask.  

Other

Why isn't the question I really need an answer to here??? 

Maybe it should be! Chat or email us your question and we'll answer it, and consider putting it here in FAQs for the community.   

 

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