Early in July we had a special visitor to the Willis family farm, Ken Myers and his two adorable children stopped by during their summer vacation. Ken had visited us a few years ago with a group from Chipotle Mexican Grill. To support its mission of Food With Integrity, each year Chipotle sends employees by the bus-load to visit our farm to gain a deeper understanding of what the mission means. The employees learn more about farming sustainably, the humane treatment of farm animals and how all of this plays into the flavor of Niman Ranch pork.
Ken was so inspired by his trip to our farm that he has been telling his children stories ever since and wanted them to see our pigs the way he did : pasture-raised, curious and friendly. When they arrived it was one of the hottest days during this hot and dry Iowa summer. The pigs were just lazing about and were not very interested in our visitors. However, they were interested in the mudhole by the water tank, which the pigs use to cool down on hot summer days. The children were excited to walk into the field and finally see the pigs they had heard so much about.
Americans love their hotdogs. So much so, July has been declared National Hot Dog Month. During hotdog season- Memorial Day through Labor Day- Americans consume nearly 7 billion hotdogs or 818 hotdogs every second. We top them with everything from the classics, to more exotic ingredients like Siracha and Sweet Onion Aioli and they grace the tables of backyard barbeques and family gatherings.
As you reach for a package of hot dogs, think about what is inside them. The fewer the ingredients the better. Look for a hot dog made from quality cuts of meat and check the label to make sure the livestock was never given added hormones or antibiotics. Not only will a high quality hot dog taste better, but you’ll feel good about what you’re feeding your family.
As you enjoy the summer, fire up the grill and cook an American favorite you can feel good about: All-Natural, Niman Ranch Fearless Franks.
At a recent event in New York, someone told me they had never met anyone with a stronger sense of place than my father, Paul Willis. I have been thinking about that comment for awhile and believe it is an attribute so many family farmers in the Midwest have in common. I began thinking about my own sense of place and feelings about being raised on a farm in Iowa. Having lived in other parts of the country – Iowa will always be home to me.
This brings me to my latest visit to a hog farming family who supply sustainably raised hogs to Niman Ranch. Richard and Delores Blackford have been selling pigs to Niman Ranch for well over 10 years. Now their daughter and son-in- law, Carolyn and Marty Osterman, are running the hog farming operations. Arriving on a bright summer.
I love everything about the 4th of July. The fireworks, picnicking with friends and family, and of course the undeniable aroma of smoky charcoal and searing meat, all remind of us of our great national pride. To go along with my favorite festivities, Niman Ranch Tri-Tip is perfect for the outdoor grill. You simply can’t beat the texture or flavor.
If you’re on the fence about what to cook this holiday, search no more! This recipe will please everyone in your gathering and simplify your job as host of the party. Best of all, it draws on diverse flavors helping us celebrate what truly makes America great… we’re a melting pot!