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?
Yes! We offer what we call curation with customization. Here's what we mean by that. We send out an email prompt each month asking if you have any particular requests -- you can check boxes accordingly.
To review more generally which types of cuts you can access with each of the curation styles we offer, check out this table of cuts by curation style.
What happens if I really dislike a cut you allocate me?
You can always return it to us at the time of your next delivery, and we'll replace it with something you like better. (This doesn't happen very often, since we're pretty diligent about accommodating preferences.)
Is this like a CSA?
In many ways, yes. We're inspired by CSAs, which pioneered sourcing premium meat directly from local, independent farms, creating a relationship that benefits farmers and eaters both.
But we aim to be more convenient than a traditional CSA:
- CSAs often require you to buy meat in large fractions of animals, like 1/4 of a pig or 1/8 of a cow; we let you choose how much meat you'd like on what timeframe.
- CSAs generally give you no choice in what cuts you get; we enable you to customize a curated selection.
- CSAs tend to require that you travel to to a pickup location, or if they deliver it's most often with a surcharge; we deliver to your doorstep for free.
- And CSAs often require you to advance the farmer funds well in advance of when you receive meat; you pay us the first of the month in which you'll get delivery.
When will I get my first delivery of provisions?
We operate on a monthly delivery cycle. 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. (More detail on how delivery cycles work)
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.
Is the meat organic?
No. We believe the pasture-raised, regenerative-practices and -- for beef -- 100% grass-fed standards our farmer partners follow are more meaningful than the organic standard. Here are a few reasons why:
- The organic standard allows cattle to be fed grain. Grain is not a natural part of a ruminant animal's diet, and grain-fed beef is not as healthy for human consumption.
- Although the organic standard includes a certain definition of humane treatment and specifically animals' access to pasture, that allowed access can be extremely limited. Particularly for chickens, organic and even "free-range" organic can allow for confinement operations where chickens have the kind of pasture "access" that only a Big Chicken lawyer would agree enables living and feeding on pasture.
- The organic standard has costly compliance requirements that advantage large industrial operators and disadvantages the small, family-run farms that are pillars of our regional economies and cultures.
Seafood is not eligible for organic certification. Our seafood is wild-caught in local Atlantic, Chesapeake and Potomac waters with approved, sustainable catch methods.
What kind of seafood do you offer?
Check out detail on this page!
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 freeze and vacuum-seal your meat at its peak. For beef, this is right after dry-aging, which adds flavor; for pork, chicken and fish, it's immediately after slaughter. Once frozen and sealed, the meat's 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."
See also "How long can I keep my provisions in my freezer," below.
Why does this bacon look different?
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. (More detail.)
Are there any additives in the bacon or sausage?
No! Bacon and sausage are made without any nitrates, nitrites, seed oils or artificial sweeteners. (More detail including ingredient lists by flavor.)
Does pasture-raised meat cook different?
Pastured meat is overall leaner than conventional meat which is generally grain-fed to increase intra-muscular fat (and profit margins), so there are differences home cooks should be aware of. At the highest level, all that's required is taking care not to overcook the leaner cuts. Using a digital cooking thermometer helps a lot.
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.
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.” As for quality, frozen food quality is driven by the freshness at which the meat is frozen, rather than by time spent in a below-0 freezer. Your provisions were frozen at peak freshness.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll replace it for you free of charge.
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.
How do I swap my current provisions subscription for a different one?
Here's how you can do it yourself through your online account. But if you would like us to do it for you, just ask.
How can I cancel my subscription?
In your online account, you can choose Cancel Subscription by navigating through Manage Subscriptions and then Subscriptions. If you don't have an online account or would just like help, just ask us to help you cancel and we'll be happy to help, though sorry to see you go.
Are there incentives for referring a friend to Near Country?
Yes! Detail here.
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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