There’s No Niman In Niman Ranch Anymore

Bill Niman used to supply us with our favorite beef and pork products at Trader Joe’s. Over the last year or so, they’ve become increasingly less visible on those shelves — just as Bill Niman gradually became less visible at the company he founded, until he was forced out last year for being a bad businessman. Funny how no one called him that for twenty-five years, as he and partner Orville Schell were building up the company with meat products every chef in America coveted.

This article in today’s NYTimes tracks Niman’s rise and fall, and rise again with his new herds, and new brand: BN Ranch. Right now, his meats are only available in limited quantities, but if his track record is any indication, ELV expects the old hippie will be puttin’ the good stuff back on our plates in no time.

And if the article is any indication, goat is the new lamb….

FYI: It was Schell’s Modern Meat, published in 1984, that first raised our awareness of the ubiquity of artificial hormones and antibiotics in beef cattle. He was an early critic of industrial meat practices — the artificial, chemical, pumping up and processing of beef, that gained more notoriety with the publishing of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation in 2001. Here is a interview with Schell (in People Magazine of all places), that’s just as horrifying and relevant today as it was 24 years ago.

Schell, who also happens to be an expert on China, correctly predicted the train wreck that is how America makes its meat. Can you say: “bovine spongiform encephalopathy?”*


* aka Mad Cow Disease