Niman Ranch
An Eye on Holiday Waste

Just how much waste is created each holiday? You may be surprised! Do what you can to help make this a more sustainable holiday season. Mother Nature Network has some good ideas to follow, as well as Rethink Recycling.


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Sarah Willis
Harvest, Nostalgia & Thanksgiving

Me, Dad and my sister, Anne, on top of our rock pile, 1986.

Me, Dad and my sister, Anne, on top of our rock pile, 1986.

Farmers are real rock stars this time of year, working long hours in the fields to harvest crops.  For me, autumn brings feelings of nostalgia about past harvest seasons.   I’m reminded that the wonderful abundance that surrounds me is the result of strenuous fieldwork done through the summer months. I remember those hot, sweaty days when my dad had us pick up rocks from the fields so we could avoid any damage they might cause our combine during harvest.  My sister and I used to spend days’ riding the “rock-picker,” which was hitched to the back of the tractor. We jumped off each time we found a rock and hurled it back into the picker’s bucket.  Soil stuck to our sweaty faces as we scoped the landscape for more.  It’s the kind of work you don’t hear much about. But it’s this kind of difficult task that brings another harvest we can all be thankful for.

Round corn stalk bales.

Round corn stalk bales.

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Niman Ranch
California’s Proposition 2 and the Rise of the Cage-Free Egg

eggsAs with pork, beef and lamb, our eggs are laid by hens raised with all vegetarian feed, in housing approved by the Humane Farm Animal Care and American Humane Certified programs (cage-free) and are never-ever given antibiotics. This means they’re humanely raised, cage-free eggs that don’t contain the chemicals and medicines you find in most store-bought eggs.

Now, all egg producers selling in California have less than four months to establish similar, more humane standards for laying hens because of Proposition 2, also known as the California Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act. This new law will go into effect on January 1, 2015, so we’d like to share some information on what makes this proposition worth talking about.

 

What is Proposition 2 or the “California Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act”?

Proposition 2 was a ballot initiative passed by the voters of California in November of 2008 by 63% majority.  It required that egg-laying hens and veal calves raised in California be confined only in a way that allows the animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.  Proposition 2 does not define exactly what the space and housing specifications would be to meet these requirements, but it is generally believed that twice the space as birds raised in cage-free environments is required – roughly a minimum of 1.5 square feet in floor space per hen.

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Niman Ranch
Football Food Favorites from Uncle Rich

20140809_155517

One of our team members, Rich Sanders, is a huge fan of football. Family and friends gather every fall in his living room to watch their favorite team play, but they don’t just come to root for the home team.

Rich’s nieces all say “Uncle Rich’s is the place to feed your face” and with football season in full swing, he wants to share some of the crowd-pleasers that keep his couch filled year after year.

His first recipe, Niman Ranch Bacon-wrapped Gulf Shrimp, is one of the family’s favorites. They love how the smoky bacon flavors the Gulf shrimp and the pop in spice from the jalapeño.

You may ask, “Why U-15 Louisiana Gulf shrimp?” Well, there are 15 shrimp per pound, so they’re larger in size. But most importantly, they’re sweet, wild and caught by fishermen from the USA – not farmed in China or Vietnam.  Rich believes “the bottom line is this: they are better in every way. The same reasons you chose Niman Ranch pork products.”

 

20140809_082720Uncle Rich’s Niman Ranch Bacon-Wrapped Gulf Shrimp

15 Jumbo (like U-15 Louisiana Gulf) shrimp, peeled and cleaned
15 strips Niman Ranch Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon
1 block feta cheese
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded

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Niman Ranch
Save Time This Holiday to Give Thanks

Thnxgiving DayThe fourth Thursday of November is not just all about the food; it’s traditionally a time to give thanks and build memories with loved ones. Our immediate outpouring of gratitude always seems to focus on families and friends, the turkey, stuffing and afternoon football. But Thanksgiving is also a time to give thanks for all of the great, influential people in our lives.

That being said, we’d like to thank our independent family farmers, all of whom work hard every day, year after year to make sure their land and animals are treated as well as possible. Regardless of corn prices, gas prices or weather, our farmers and ranchers continue to practice farming traditions they believe are right. They’re able to pass land onto their children, help mitigate environmental issues like soil erosion and raise animals that are happy and healthy. For this, we are thankful every day of the year.

We are also thankful for those who support our business and our farmers at their local restaurants and grocery stores. Without you, Niman Ranch would simply not exist!

To show our gratitude, here are a few tips from the Niman Ranch team to make your holiday more enjoyable:

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Niman Ranch
Eat A Burger, Fund A Farmer

Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, CO has hosted Burger Night from Memorial Day to Labor Day since they opened back in 2002. This is their signature event, and it’s been said that they only shut down if the rain is hard enough to put out the coals. Both their locations offer Niman Ranch beef patties with outdoor seating – the perfect way to spend a summer evening.

Marczyk Burger Night

Pete Marczyk, founder and owner, hosted their first Burger Night for charity three years ago. The event was so successful, he felt the need to look for more meaningful opportunities. When asked why they chose the Next Generation Scholarship Fund, Pete reflected: “As we were planning for the future and how we could work more closely with our partners, it occurred to us that the Next Generation Scholarship Fund was the charity we felt most connected to, and the one we wanted to participate in most meaningfully as a staff.”

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Niman Ranch
St. Petersburg Area Chefs Support Young Farmers

On August 28th, Chef Tyson Grant of the Parkshore Grill and Chef Jason Cline of The Birchwood joined culinary forces to raise money for the Next Generation Scholarship Fund in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tyson, who first came up with the concept, hosts several fundraisers at the Parkshore Grill each the year. “As chefs, we really love doing these kinds of events,” says Tyson. “When we can successfully put something together and raise money at the same time, it’s fun for us.”

Parkshore Birchwood Fundraiser 2

Chef Jason Cline, left, and Chef Tyson Grant, right

The Parkshore Grill was the first Niman Ranch-branded restaurant in the Tampa area, starting back in 2007. With Jason now serving our products just blocks away, Tyson felt it was only natural to work together. He even was the one to suggest we invite Jason as a featured chef to the Farmer Appreciation Dinner, where Tyson himself was featured just a few years back. Jason was ultimately chosen this year, and he did a spectacular job in Iowa highlighting Niman Ranch pork with his gorgonzola & candied bacon-stuffed meatloaf entrée.

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Niman Ranch
The Next Generation Scholarship Fund Awards

Next Gen Schol Blog - Scholarship Winner

Anthony Scheer, David Serfling Niman Ranch Memorial Scholarship winner

As this generation’s farmers and ranchers near retirement, we work to persuade our children and grandchildren not to leave the family farm. As an incentive, we developed a scholarship program called the Next Generation Scholarship Fund.

This fund is designed to raise awareness to the loss of traditional farming and ranching practices, and to ultimately help maintain this way of life. Our goal is to help give the children and family members of Niman Ranch farmers or other family farmers a better opportunity to return to the farm by helping pay for some of their education.

FACTS:

  • -  98% decline in the number of family hog farmers since 1950.
  • -  30% increase in farmers 75 years and older.
  • -  20% decline in farmers 25 years and younger.
  • -  The average age of the American farmer today is 57.
  • -  The average age of a Niman Ranch farmer is 47.

Through the generosity of the following donors, winners received over $43,000 in scholarship dollars this year:

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Niman Ranch
2014 Farmer Of The Year

Paul Brown of Alderland Farm, Iowa

 

BrownFamily

Paul Brown and his family; from left: Son Derek, Wife Andrea, Daughter Allison, Son Landon

All the independent family farmers who raise livestock for Niman Ranch practice sustainable farming methods, humane animal husbandry and work within their communities to promote the family farming model. There are some, however, that stand out above the rest. In order to honor their achievements, we honor one farmer every year with the Farmer of the Year award, which is presented at the Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Iowa.

The 2014 winner came as no surprise. Paul Brown of Alderland farm has opened his home on several occasions to share his knowledge of sustainable farming and Niman Ranch. He and his family have hosted many tours over the years, from Niman Ranch groups to college groups, and even local school children. In fact, Paul is known simply as “Farmer Brown” to many local kids in his community.

Paul and Andrea met when he took a summer job on Andrea’s family farm. It was his first introduction to pasture hog production and his future wife. After that summer job, he began working in confinement operations, but quickly realized he wanted to raise hogs outdoors.

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Sarah Willis
16th Annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner Recap

photo 1Our annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner was held on September 13, 2014 at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines. It was a spectacular celebration.  Every year it seems to take on a personality of its own.  This truly was the year of the Niman Ranch Hog Farmer.  Enthusiasm for the dinner led to a record breaking number of RSVPs. After all these years, it amazes me to see how much this event has developed, not just in size, but in helping people understand how important it is to recognize our farmers for their good stewardship of the land and humane treatment of their livestock.

The outpouring of support from the food community was enormous, starting the moment we asked our selected featured chefs if they would be willing to come to Iowa and cook for our farmers. They agreed without hesitation, and many of them even paid for their sous chefs to come along.  Chef Jason Cline of St. Petersburg, FL, went even further and held a fund-raiser for the Next Generation Scholarship at his restaurant, The Birchwood.

Featured Chefs :

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