Recently, I met a retired math teacher from Osage, Iowa. He said that he was so fortunate to have a majority of rural children in his classes. He told me farm kids were great at learning new concepts and applying them because of their daily experience with this type of thinking on the farm. Farming is all about problem solving, so if you didn’t know how to do something, you have to figure it out. That’s not much different than math. This gets at the heart of what I loved about farm life. There was always something to figure out.
As the snow falls in the country, it tucks us in for winter as it blankets the fields. It’s beautiful and peaceful, but as soon as the temperatures plunge our thoughts immediately turn toward our pigs. Time to bundle up, put on those insulated coveralls, hats, scarves, gloves and rubber boots and head outside to make sure the livestock are doing well and our hog waters are working properly.
We sat with Stephen Pocock, head Salumiere at Boccalone in the San Francisco Bay Area to find out about how he got started in the business and what’s most important to him. Stephen has been working with Chris Cosentino since Incanto, and is excited to help take Boccalone to new heights in the near future.
Recently, while I was representing our farmers at Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Cultivate Festival in Miami, I was asked why it matters how we treat our livestock on the farm if we plan to eat them in the end anyway. I have thought a lot about this subject over the years, ever since I was a little girl on our farm tending the animals that I loved so dearly. Most farmers take pride in their care of for the livestock. Here are a few of the reasons why I believe farm animal welfare matters.
There are over 400 wineries in the region we recognize as Wine Country in the United States, located just north of San Francisco. This includes Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Bennett Valley, and Russian River Valley. Long, dry summers culminate with a burst of heat before fall, creating the perfect climate for grapes.
As you drive down the one-lane winding roads, it truly feels like you’re in Italy or France, with rolling hills to the left and right and vineyards stretching for miles. It’s a great place to enjoy the weekend with your lover, a celebration with friends, or just a relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of city living.
To make your stay a little less stressful, we traveled Wine Country to find restaurants that have phenomenal meats to pair with the region’s spectacular wines. We did not come out disappointed! Whether you’re visiting for relaxation or fun, check out our meat lover’s restaurant guide to eating in Wine Country for tips on some of the area’s best restaurants.
As the daylight hours shorten, the landscape gradually transforms from the rich greens of summertime into various autumn shades of gold in the farm fields. On the farm, that means one thing: harvest time! On our farm, we mainly grow field corn, soybeans, oats and hay. Some of these we grow organically, whereas others we use more conventional methods.
We have an old apple tree that grows right next to our gas barrel here on the farm. Admittedly this is not an ideal location, but these are the very best apples for making apple pie. My grandmother planted a crabapple tree (the only native apple tree to North America) there many years ago. In the wild, apples are highly heterozygous and don’t grow true to the subspecies of seed. Apples of all varieties are created by grafting trees onto a hardier apple root stock. This is how our favorite apple originated: from the root stock of the original crabapple, a separate seedling grew into another tree. We are not sure what kind it is but believe it to be a Mackintosh.
We took the time to sit with Chef Dominic Orsini, Executive Chefof Silver Oaks Winery in Napa Valley and recent author of The Silver Oak Cookbook: Life in a Cabernet Kitchen. Find out how he found his passion for cooking with only the freshest ingredients, and how he’s worked to build a sense of place through his cuisine.
At our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, we present the Honorary Farmer of the Year award. This recognition is given to a Niman Ranch customer – whether it be a meat distributor, grocer or restaurant – that shows outstanding commitment to the Niman Ranch farming community. They go above and beyond being a customer to embody the true meaning of partnership in their actions towards promoting sustainable, humane agriculture.
This year, we honored a long-time friend of ours, Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, Colorado. Owners Pete, Barbara and Paul Marczyk have increased their commitment to our Next Generation Scholarship Fund through private dinners at their home, having customers “round up” at the register, selling special items at their deli, and our favorite event of the year: Marczyk’s Burger Night. The Fund is set up to give our farmers’ children a better chance of returning to the land by curbing school loan debt. This ultimately preserves traditional farming practices and promotes the advancement of the next generation of farmers.
The tradition of the Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner is alive and well! We recently celebrated our 18th annual event at the Embassy Suites Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 27.
Each year we painstakingly select a group of highly acclaimed chefs who meet our strict criteria. They are award –winning chefs in their regions and they have shown a real commitment to supporting Niman Ranch and our family of farmers and ranchers not only through purchasing Niman Ranch meats but by raising awareness about how our network of family farmers raise the livestock. Most often the initial reason many chefs choose Niman Ranch is because of the outstanding meat quality, but once they realize the connection with flavor and how the animals are raised, they become advocates for our entire program.