Meet the Next Generation of Niman Ranch Farmers: Michael Mardesen

As the U.S. family farm disappears, we are proud of our young Niman Ranch farmers. They are committed to raising hogs sustainably and humanely while continuing the traditional farming practices handed down by their parents and grandparents. Meet Michael Mardesen, 20 year old from Iowa and past recipient of the Next Generation Scholarship.

Fearless Franks for Summer Grilling

FearlessAmericans 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.

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No Gestation Crates Here!

Recently there has been a lot of talk about how farm animals are being raised.  I have received several calls here at the farm about whether or not Niman Ranch farmers use something called, gestation crates.   If you are wondering about that too the answer is no. Niman Ranch protocols don’t allow the use of gestation crates.  “Then how are the gestating sows handled?” a journalist recently asked me.  FYI: Sows are a breeding female that has had at least one litter of pigs.  Niman Ranch farmers know the best way to treat their sows is to allow them plenty of room to move and behave naturally.  I offered to provide some pictures to the journalist, but they said they would rather take their own.  So I arranged a tour with one of the earliest members of the Niman Ranch network, Farmer Paul Menke and his wife Lenice.  He has been farming with his family for generations.   Raising pigs just comes naturally for him.

No Gest

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2011 Farmer Appreciation Dinner

The concept of the Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner came about when my father, Paul Willis, was asked to be the guest of honor at a special restaurant anniversary dinner for Café Rouge located in Berkley, Ca lifornia. Chef Marcia McBride asked my dad if he would speak about our farm operation and why it was different or noteworthy, while the diners feasted on the masterfully preparedand flavorful pork from our farm. He was delighted to attend and was welcomed at the restaurant like a celebrity. “They really gave me the red carpet treatment”, I remember him saying. He explained how rewarding it was to interact with Chef McBride at the restaurant and be treated with such high regard. Mostly, it was amazing for him to see and taste what she was doing with the pork from our farm. How could bring this experience to all of the Niman Ranch hog farmers?

more-hayrides

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