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This Little Piggy Went to Market: Paul Willis and the Niman Ranch Pork Program

The name Paul Willis is pretty much synonymous with sustainable pork production. In the mid-1990s, Willis teamed up with Bill Niman to develop the Niman Ranch Pork Program and bring flavorful, antibiotic-free pork to market. If you aren’t familiar with it, the program is actually quite different from the way most hogs are raised and sold in this country in that it sources from family farms, raising hogs on pasture or in deep-bedded systems.  I was fortunate enough to meet up with Paul for a pleasant conversation at the lovely 18 Reasons space in San Francisco’s Mission District to learn more about his farm, the Niman Ranch Pork Program and his recent trip to Capitol Hill. Read more

Pig Island Supports Local Producers, Tests Chefs and Eaters

If you want to know what a large-scale locavore meat festival looks like, start with the organizer buying whole pigs directly from a farmer and distributing them to participating chefs. This caused quite a spectacle when Paul Dench-Layton of Violet Hill Farm delivered 61 of his (and a neighbor’s) piglets to the Union Square Greenmarket. Chefs posed with their pigs for a photo op, leaving no question as to the provenance for the local pork festival Pig Island. Read more

Meat and Morality: Righteous Porkchop

The title of Nicolette Hahn Niman’s compelling new book, Righteous Porkchop, is honest, and indicates one of the book’s strengths—its exploration of the moral issues behind our broken food system. As a vegetarian rancher she is uniquely poised to be even more righteous than most. Not only has she abstained from eating meat herself since young adulthood, she spends her days sustainably raising cattle for others to eat. Who can top that? Read more