Near Country Provisions is a company aiming to deliver high-quality, sustainable meats and fish to residents of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
The company sources its products from farmer and fisher partners who are committed to specific, high standards of clean, humane, and regenerative production.
These standards include one hundred percent grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and pork, no use of antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs, raising animals humanely, and implementing regenerative agricultural techniques such as rotational grazing and chemical elimination.
“We’re not selling commodity meat,” Near Country Provisions’ Founder-CEO, Adam Gerson tells Food Tank. “We’re selling meat with a story.”
For farmers, Near Country Provisions expands the market for regenerative, humanely-raised meats into urban and suburban areas. The same goes for their small-scale fishers.
Near Country Provisions launched in March of 2020, just weeks before the world went into COVID-19 lockdown. Research published in Socio-Economic Planning Sciences finds that the pandemic exposed the fragility of the global supply chain, emphasizing the need to build resilient food systems, and encouraged consumers to cook more at home and practice sustainable diets.
Customers can choose specific cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood and the frequency at which they would like to receive orders. Once the order is customized to the customer’s liking, Near Country Provisions delivers to their doorstep free of charge.
Their business model also has environmental benefits. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Earth’s soil has the potential to sequester 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases (equivalent to the annual emissions of 63 coal-fired power plants) annually with the help of regenerative agriculture.
“Although regenerative agriculture and eating with a local focus are as old as civilization itself, we need innovation to get them back to their rightful, central place, since the status quo is dominated by modern industrial agribusiness,” Gerson says.
In 2020, 89 percent of all U.S. farms were run by small family farms and only three percent by large-scale farms, but large-scale farms account for 46 percent of the value of production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. At Near Country Provisions, all of the partners are small family farms.
The company builds upon the traditional Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, which allows consumers to buy food directly from local farms and businesses through a membership fee, Gerson believes his company’s model is, “[bringing] technology and modern business practices to old school ways of putting food on the table.”
“CSAs from principled farms have done a great job over the years connecting people in cities and suburbs to the sources of good food, stressing the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and supporting the family farmers who help feed us,” Gerson tells Food Tank.
“But,” he continues, “CSAs, for all their strengths, can be inconvenient for many people who would otherwise love to source from small, local farms.”
These barriers include travel required to pick up orders, high prices for delivery, and the inability to manage orders through an online account. “Near Country Provisions aims to offer a service which takes the great aspects of a CSA, and adds convenience and accessibility.”
Unlike other grocery box companies, including HelloFresh and Blue Apron, that outsource customer service and delivery to cut costs, Near Country Provisions believes keeping things personal is key to providing good service.
When a customer receives a monthly order, for example, they will recognize their delivery person from past months, helping to build relationships within the community.
In addition to their business model, Near Country Provisions aims to make a positive impact in its communities by donating food to the COVID-19 response initiatives of DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit combating hunger and poverty through job training and job creation.
Near Country Provisions eventually hopes to expand their work to reach more members of the community. They will look to partner with more nonprofits that focus on food access and education and expand their services into communities needing greater access to healthy, sustainable meats.
“It’s a great moment for the farmers and fishers we work with, and for us,” Gerson tells Food Tank. “Our challenge is just to cut through the noise, cut through the greenwashing that unfortunately exists, and show people that sustainably-produced protein is right nearby, in the ‘near country’ outside the cities and suburbs where so many conscious eaters live.”
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Photo courtesy of Near Country Provisions
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