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 use hand-washing best practices. We wear gloves when handling your provisions packaging. 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.
When will you add chicken?
We are planning for the beginning of our region's next chicken-growing season, which is spring 2021. A lot of you want this, we know! Before then, keep an eye out for turkeys, which we're sourcing special for Thanksgiving 2020!
What will I get in my provisions?
Check out this page on what to expect and let us know if you have additional questions.
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, Near Country's meat processing partner freezes your meat at its peak (which for beef is after dry-aging, which adds flavor, and for pork is immediately after slaughter). Once frozen, the quality is locked in, effectively, and it will stay that way for months.
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."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll replace it for you free of charge.
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.
Why are the meats the colors I’m seeing?
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.
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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