The San Francisco Chronicle has a long piece on Bill Niman, the near bankruptcy of Niman Ranch and why Niman won’t eat Niman Ranch beef and pork any more.
To expand his brand, Bill brought in an outside investor in 2006. But the move didn’t stem Niman Ranch’s losses and, this January, Chicago’s Natural Food Holdings took the company over and took Bill Niman out of Niman Ranch. Bill is saying Chicago’s Natural Food has changed the brand he built and that it is treating the animals in ways he eschewed, all of which the company denies.
The world has changed a lot since Bill Niman founded Niman Ranch 30 years ago. Yes, there’s a lot more factory beef and pork out there, but there are also a lot more small producers out there, people like Leonard, who are raising animals in a way that’s better for them and us. You may see the cows in the front pasture as you pull into Upper Meadows for a visit or a volunteer day; they are an integral piece of the farm’s operations.
I give Bill Niman credit for putting sustainable beef and pork in supermarkets. But I appreciate even more his advocacy of sustainable beef because it has opened consumers’ eyes to farms nearby.