Supermarket Perimeter - August 2020 - 38

Meat & Poultry: Clean label

PIONEERING
NIMAN RANCH
FOUNDER

N

orthglenn, Colo.-based Niman
Ranch's founding hog farmer, Paul
Willis, has been selected by EatingWell
magazine as a 2020 American
Food Hero.
The annual list celebrates ten leaders
who are changing the food world in
innovative and meaningful ways. Willis
was celebrated as a staunch animal
welfare advocate who has revolutionized
the hog production system and built a
thriving brand that supports hundreds of
likeminded and passionate small family
farmers, according to EatingWell.
"Willis' dedication to bringing wellraised pork to scale-something available
nationwide, not just at the small-scale
local level-is a feat we consider deserving
of a lifetime Food Hero award," according
to the magazine.
Willis started the Niman Ranch Pork
Company 25 years ago, at a time when
small, pasture-based hog farmers were
struggling to compete. Since that time,
he has helped grow the brand one farmer
and rancher at a time to a network of

38 - AUGUST 2020

750 family farmers raising their animals
humanely, sustainably and with care.
Working together, Niman Ranch
farmers are able to serve broader markets
throughout the country, including James
Beard award winning and Michelin rated
restaurants, quality-focused national
chains like Chipotle, Panera and Shake
Shack, and at specialty grocery stores
and butcher shops.
Other winners of the award include
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of
Feeding America; Anthony Bourdain,
the late chef and celebrated food writer;
George Siemon, the founder of Organic
Valley; Chellie Pingree, organic farmer
and Congresswoman representing the 1st
District of Maine; Tom Colicchio, awardwinning chef and food policy advocate;
and Joann Lo & Jose Oliva, co-directors
of the Food Chain Worker Alliance, to
name a few.
"This recognition is a real honor," Willis
said. "In the early days, people were a little
skeptical, but through hard work and a
great team we have built Niman Ranch

supermarketperimeter.com

into the resilient and thriving brand it is
today. It's been a long haul and the work
was never easy, but always rewarding. I'm
so proud of Niman Ranch and thankful to
our customers, partners and friends who
have been with me for this wild ride."
Willis has received multiple awards and
accolades throughout his career including
the 2003 Good Neighbor Harvest
Award from the Glynwood Center; 2012
Path´Čünder Sustainability Award from
Chefs Collaborative; 2013 Founders
Award from Edible Communities; 2015
Stewards of Iowa's Land recognition
from Drake University's Agricultural Law
Center; Good Food 100's 2019 Farmer
of the Year; and is included on Heritage
Radio Network's Hall of Fame.
"Paul's welfare standards informed
the public that it was possible to produce
pork using alternative practices, and
as a result, pressure was applied to the
industry at large to make changes,"
said Mark Rasmussen, director of Iowa
State University's Leopold Center for
Sustainable Agriculture.

NIMAN RANCH

RECEIVES HONOR


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Supermarket Perimeter - August 2020

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