Underground Farms (UF) is in business to provide food that is:
Our focus is to connect consumers to ultra-local livestock farmers that raise animals responsibly and is not a part of the industrial food industry. We do this by delivering traceable meat, poultry and eggs to our customer's homes. Our farmers do not use toxic inputs; they leave ample space for the animals to live and do not rush their growth. Our products are discernibly different from what you will find in grocery stores and industrial production.
We try to run each aspect of our business in an environmentally responsibly way. It adds complexity, but we think it's the right thing to do. We consider each input to minimize waste, treat the animals well and deliver food that is healthy and discernibly different from industrialized food.
We carefully consider and manage the following inputs:
We think about all of these things.
For example, our eggs are delivered in biodegradable pulp cartons, meanwhile there are still many producers delivering eggs in plastic and styrofoam cartons.
When we delivered chicken and chicken parts to grocery stores we wrestled with packaging and tested biodegradable trays to see if they would hold up. Trays make chicken parts easier to handle and it frames the product, thus looking more attractive on store shelves. Most producers use trays because it helps market the product. We decided to avoid trays since it wasn't essential to the quality of the product and it produced more garbage. Instead, we used small bags to hold the chicken, thus reducing unnecessary garbage, but not compromising the product. Meanwhile most producers are still using styrofoam trays. Styrofoam never breaks down in the environment, resulting in unnecessary waste, pollution and expense.
The idea behind Underground Farms emerged in response to a problem we were having with our own farming business.
As family farmers raising sheep and chicken in New Jersey, we found ourselves confronting an industry that lacks disclosure and has a system-wide pricing problem. Large-scale commercial farms routinely use toxic inputs to rush the growth of their animals, while withholding important information from consumers and pushing prices below intrinsic value so that responsible competitors can’t succeed. Also, we noticed that plenty of farmers raising animals the right way – i.e., not cutting corners to streamline p&l and achieve massive scale -- were struggling to stay in business.
Without visibility into the livestock practices of factory farms, consumers have no way to effectively differentiate between responsibly-raised meat and the industrial version.
We know that today’s informed consumers want to know where the animal came from, how it was raised, and the conditions under which it was harvested, packaged and sent to retail outlets. Today, Americans can exhaustively research almost every major household expenditure, such as buying a car, investing in securities or choosing a phone plan, but crucial data related to basic food production remains scarce and hard-to-find. UF wants to change that, and we believe these issues will re-assert themselves until the underlying problems are solved.
Underground Farms was created with the goal of providing transparency in livestock farming to the wider market. Our method is to gather information about how independent farmers source, raise and harvest their animals, and provide it to folks who care about humanely-raised local sources of meat, poultry and eggs. Along the way, we have used QR Codes to show the farmers practices, allowing for informed food choices.
After years of dialogue with New Jersey residents, farmers and business people, Underground Farms started a B2B and B2C business and integrated QR Codes into their business. If consumers remain interested in using verifiable information about farmer practices to guide their food choices, then technology can be the impetus for non-commercial farmers getting the respect, pricing and visibility that their superior products deserve.