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Earlier this year, I spent months working on a story about regenerative ranching, a beyond-sustainable approach to animal agriculture that aims to restore health to the land through responsible farming practices. During those months of researching, reporting, and writing, I visited ranches where I watched happy-looking animals grazing on uncrowded stretches of Colorado prairie. I ultimately urged 5280 readers to support those types of ranches by purchasing their products.
Meanwhile, when it came time to cook my own dinner, I was in a conundrum. I bought meat from these regenerative producers when I could—via their online platforms and visits to farmers’ markets and specialty butcher shops—but more often than not, I didn’t plan far enough ahead. I’d find myself in front of the meat case at a King Soopers at 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, staring hungrily at plastic-wrapped meat that I knew was’t a responsible choice for the animals involved or the environment. Sometimes, I pivoted and prepared a vegetarian meal instead; other times, I just bought the factory-farmed meat and tried not to think about it too much. Meanwhile, I wondered if it was ever going to be easier or more convenient to purchase the type of responsibly raised meat I was writing about.
Enter Pasture Provisions, a delivery service founded by two University of Colorado grads, JT Eberly and Andrew Faires. Food delivery services have exploded in recent years, most of them (Blue Apron, Green Chef) delivering pre-prepped meals to be assembled by customers. Pasture Provisions’ delivery service is similar, with a somewhat customizable, subscription-based model, but rather than delivering meals, Pasture Provisions delivers ingredients. Specifically, regeneratively raised Colorado beef, pork, lamb, and eggs (and more).
While Pasture Provisions offers various basket sizes and the option to include local produce (like lettuce from the GrowHaus) and eggs (from the likes of Amish Acres and Yoder Family Farms), I signed up for the medium “Meat Only” basket. My first package was delivered in an insulated bag inside a tote with ice packs, along with a metal box reminiscent of the milk delivery box. (Customers keep the metal boxes on their doorsteps for future deliveries and can return the ice packs, totes, and insulated bags for Pasture Provisions to wash and re-use.) Inside, I found a surprise mix of items—New York strip steaks, sausages, pork chops, ground beef—all frozen and ready to pop into my freezer until needed.
The steaks sourced from Parker Pastures (Gunnison) were beautifully marbled and absolutely delicious, but it was the chops from Colorado Pastured Pork (Hotchkiss) that secured my long-term subscription to the service. The thick fat caps melted into unbelievable deliciousness, and the meat itself was juicy and a deep pink. These chops were miles above anything I could purchase at the grocery store, both in terms of flavor and sustainability.
The Pasture Provisions model is also a boon to Colorado ranchers. Eberly and Faires buy exclusively whole animals from their ranchers. “We go direct to the farm and get things butchered to our specs,” Eberly says. “Farming is a tough business, and it’s hard, logistically, for many of these ranchers to sell anything less than a quarter cow. We act as the middleman between producer and customer.”
Direct relationships and whole-animal purchasing enable Pasture Provisions to buy the premium meats at a good price, passing along savings to their customers and paying ranchers fairly. “We want this to be sustainable on all fronts,” Faires says. The monthly medium meat basket, just the right amount for my household of two, contains five pounds of meat and costs $60. Sure, that’s a whole lot more expensive than the cheap grocery store stuff, but it’s a bargain given the quality of the meat and the convenience of having a delicious dinner-in-the-making in my freezer at all times. Subscribers can also skip a delivery month if they don’t finish a box, or cancel at any time.
While Pasture Provisions does do some wholesale vending to restaurants like Colt & Gray and Hop Alley, the bulk of Eberly and Faries’ business comes from consumer subscriptions like mine. And the business model is working—sales are booming, and Pasture Provisions is preparing to launch baskets featuring sustainable seafood, including salmon and mahi mahi from small-scale, responsible fisheries.
Check out Pasture Provisions website to peruse the various basket options and bonus add-ons (including special holiday hams, extra steaks, and even tubes of raw dog food). Baskets start at $40 and can be delivered bi-weekly or monthly. You can also find Pasture Provisions at the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market every Sunday through November 17.