WFCF Launches WFCF Poultry CARE Standard

If you’ve been regular readers here, you know that Where Food Comes From has been on a journey to give our readers more access to the story behind their food.  From actual stories about farms and ranches and the farmers that cultivate them to stories about the processes behind verification and the labels you see on your products every day, it is our continual mission to provide you details on the unseen parts of food verification and help to close the education and information gap between farm and table.

With that educational goal in mind, we wanted to take the time to fill you in on our recent announcement that Where Food Comes From is launching a set of standards around sustainability in poultry production called Poultry CARE.  The main objective in developing Poultry CARE was to develop a set of standards that reflect state of the art best practice and science in sustainable poultry production for the protection of birds, workers and the environment.  So let’s take some time this week to see what our new Poultry Care standards are all about.

The Standards
It’s easy to say that we are always looking for ways to enhance and advance our verification processes and criteria. But how do we go about actually making that happen?  Good question.  Where Food Comes From constantly evaluates current processes and with the help of scientists, farmers and agriculture experts, we’re able to find better ways to produce food.

Farms, ranchers and even grocers depend on consumer trust to survive and grow.  As consumers have become more conscious of verification standards, there has been an equally large push to expand those standards to allow for more transparency around the protection of animals, workers and our environment.

That’s where our new Poultry CARE standards come in. Today, there are four pillars we evaluate for Poultry Care: Animal Welfare, Worker Care, Environment, and Responsible Use of Antibiotics.  This applicable to all stages of the poultry production.

Certification
Poultry production facilities can get certified on each pillar separately or have the option to complete all four simultaneously. Like our other certification programs, this involves extensive audits to ensure proper practices are in place.  Here’s a quick overview on what each pillar covers.

Animal Welfare – Ensures birds are free from hunger, thirst, discomfort, pan, injury, disease, fear, etc. This goes beyond basic needs of the birds and also includes housing conditions and specific litter management.

Worker Care – Reinforce efforts to ensure individuals are legally hired, fairly compensated and treated, not subject to discrimination, appropriately trained and provided with a safe work environment.

Environment – Support the maintenance of a sustainable environment by promoting practices that encourage waste reduction, management of natural renewable resources, and reducing our carbon footprint.

Responsible Use of Antibiotics (RUA) – Prevent development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria where antibiotics are administered.  The Responsible Use of Antibiotics Standard is also informed by “judicious use principles”2 developed by the FDA in partnership with the American Veterinarian Medical Association, and the Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use (CRAU) Standard3 managed by the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC).

These standards are more than just checking on the birds daily. We considered these standards to be a positive and much needed addition to the poultry production industry.  These pillars are key to good management in raising healthy birds.

What’s Next
Outside of the CARE guidelines, each of the pillars contain certification criteria around Community Engagement, which we consider a positive role of the production facilities. It’s important to be involved in the communities in which these facilities operate in.  As we continue to improve these standards with our partners, we will continue to bring updates.

Stay tuned for more on Poultry Care and all things Where Food Comes From.  Do you have an opinion?  Great!  From July 1-31, 2019, you can let us know your thoughts by visiting our Public Comment page on our website.  We’d love to hear from you!

 

WFCF Organic Divisions : A Bee Organic & ICS


Trying out new things is not always easy.  Remember trying to ride your bike without training wheels for the first time or taking your driving course at the DMV?  Once you learn the basics and have a clear understanding, the simpler the tasks become. The same principle applies for many other things that we do in our daily lives but, just like riding that bike, it takes work and education. Most jobs are made up of multiple tasks that must learned in order to achieve a certain outcome. Maybe you’re a teacher, engineer or maybe ever a farmer.  All these jobs require lots of learning and educating of yourself as well as others. Today, farmers have the big responsibility of producing the food supply for millions of people across the country. Who helps those farmers and ranchers navigate and learn when it comes to Organic production and certification?  That’s a great question.  Today we get to more deeply introduce you to A Bee Organic and International Certification Services (ICS), both are Organic divisions of Where Food Comes From.

Becoming USDA Organic

Remember what we said about trying new things?  The same applies for farmers as they look to convert their operations to Organic farms.  This is where A Bee Organic and ICS come into the picture. A Bee Organic and ICS are both an accredited Certification Agency (ACA).  A Bee Organic has been in place since 2010, ICS has been in place since 1979.

Those wanting to be certified Organic must follow Organic standards set by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). By following those standards, producers and handlers can label products as Organic and display the USDA Organic seal, which you’ve probably seen on products today.

A Bee Organic and ICS want all of their clients to maintain successful Organic operations, so they always provide them with a copy of the NOP regulations.  If there is confusion, staff will explain regulations to help support the clients through the process and recommend clients seek out Organic consultants if further system development and management is needed. They also provide resources and communicate current notices, processes, and legal requirements. Understanding the regulations and how they apply builds the foundation to a successful Organic business.

Who They Support?

There are four different categories of Organic Certification, and ICS and A Bee Organic work with customers in all segments. They are handler, livestock, crop and wild crop.

Let’s start by explaining what a handler is.  This is any operation that is engaged in the handling of agricultural products, including those that handle crops and livestock as defined by the NOP regulations. For example, if you clean and cut the produce, you would need an Organic handler certification.  Whereas, if you bought packaged coffee beans and resold them, as is, without opening the packaging you would not need a handler certification. Different types of handlers consist of on-farm handlers, re-packers, co-packers and processors.  Additional information about this can be found in the NOP Rule.

Next, certifying livestock consists of any cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry or equine animals used for food or in the production of food, fiber, feed, or other agricultural-based consumer products per the NOP. Apiary production is also considered livestock certification. This certification involves the environmental conditions, food supply, and care of the animals.  Organic livestock must be fed organically produced feed, ensuring the animals receive adequate nutrition. Ruminant livestock certification must include a pasture plan. This also includes the elimination of certain substances and chemicals.  Any producer of Organic livestockmust establish a year-round plan to accommodate the health of their livestock.

Crop production has specific regulations, including maintaining and/or improving natural resources. Crop production includes field crops- both annual and perennial, greenhouse production, and hydroponic or aquaponic systems.  One important thing to note about Organic crop verification is the use of GMO, sewage sludge and ionizing radiation is never allowed under any circumstance.  There are also specific practices producers must follow when it comes to keeping the soil fertile and cultivated.  This includes everything from crop rotation to disposal of crop waste materials.

Because wild harvested crops are picked, not produced, they are a separate category that focuses on conservation of the crop and harvest area environment. Just as with crop production, the harvest area must be documented to be free of prohibited substances for 3 years prior to harvest.

If it seems like a lot of information to process, that’s because it is.  Now you understand why A Bee Organic and ICS are so vital to their clients and the Organic industry.

Why Certify?

A Bee Organic and ICS, both divisions of Where Food Comes From, Inc., are proud to educate you on the certification of Organic products.  We are all in this together, learning, growing, and changing the way we produce for generations to come.  You want the story behind your food and we’re here to help. As always, to learn more about all of our verification programs, visit us at Where Food Comes From, A Bee Organic or ICS to learn about their services.

Storybit : Stoddard Ranch

The state of Montana, known as “Big Sky Country,” is home to the beautiful Stoddard Ranch.  With a mountain of ambition, Leonard Stoddard began a lifelong dream of being a rancher.  From feeding cattle in the frigid winters to riding his horse or 4-wheeler in the summer heat to check cattle, it was evident Leonard had a true passion for ranching.  This week we graze across the open grasslands to learn about Leonard & Steve Stoddard and the Stoddard Ranch story.

The Story 

Stoddard Ranch began with Leonard Stoddard in the 1950’s and his son, Steve Stoddard, who joined the operation after he graduated from high school in 1972.  It was a struggle to support two families and grow the ranch at the same time.  Financial constraints combined with the lack of ability to grow in adjacent areas eventually forced Steve to lease land at an alternate location near Colony, Wyoming.  Eventually, Steve grew enough equity in his cattle for Leonard to sell their smaller ranch located in Hulett, Wyoming.  This sale led to the purchase of a 600-head cattle ranch in Hammond, Montana.  It consists of 25,000 acres with an additional 18,000 acres they lease.  In 2018, Leonard passed away, but Steve and his partner, Julie Emmons continued to build on to the ranch, adding two lease locations, which allowed them to increase to around 1,100 head of cattle.

Verification

Today, Stoddard Ranch partners with IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc., for third-party verification associated with livestock production.  Stoddard Ranch qualifies for Source & Age, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC), Verified Natural Beef and the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-Step Animal Welfare Review Program.

Because consumers are demanding products meet these verification requirements, Stoddard Ranch has received premiums on their cattle.  While there is a record keeping aspect that needs to be adhered to, Stoddard Ranch has found that the premium from participating in the program far outweighs the extra paperwork that is required to qualify.  Upon closer inspection, they realized that were only a few requirements set forth by the programs that they didn’t already adhere to.  For them, it is simply a matter of recording the information and working with the verification specialists that continuously work with them to ensure they are meeting the requirements.

The Benefits

Stoddard Ranch believe most, if not all producers in their area, take pride in what they do and treat their cattle with respect.  Stoddard Ranch is excited to share their story and tell consumers where their beef comes from.  They feel that connecting consumers directly to their beef producers is critical in today’s marketplace.  Now more than ever consumers are asking the right questions and want to know how their food is produced from origin to fork.  Stoddard Ranch cares about the product they offer and they stand behind the verification processes provided by Where Food Comes From.  These programs give consumers confidence in the product they receive by providing details about the livestock and the production.  Stoddard Ranch will continue to work with IMI Global because they see the value in doing so.  They take pride in delivering an all-natural, hormone-free product straight from the ranges of Montana.  And, they love what we do.

Storybit : GrandyOats – The Real Granolas

An elementary school, 288 solar panels, and 95,000 kWh of clean, renewable energy annually.  No, we are not heading out on the Magic School Bus for a science lesson.  Instead we’re heading to Maine to learn about a company called GrandyOats who are taking sustainability to the next level. Since 2015, the team has been utilizing solar power to heat their ovens, power computers, lights and cooling systems. Could you imagine running your entire home on solar power?  Their solar panels are capable of offsetting over 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.  That’s basically roundtrip from Maine to San Francisco 25 times by car. That’s a lot! Let’s check out how GrandyOats, the “Real Granolas,” are nourishing people, the planet and the communities around them.

Their Story 

Yellow Volkswagon buses bring people together! Okay, so we may not have the stats to back that up, but it’s still true for Nat Pierce and Aaron Ankler, whom both drove the rare vehicle and met while attending the University of New Hampshire.

After college, Nat set out to see the States.  He landed in California for a short time before returning to his home state where he started a family and opened a vegetarian bakery.  Aaron on the other hand was living in Aspen, Colo. running a natural juice business and managing a vegan restaurant. After a fateful encounter at a concert in Portland, Maine, Nat and Aaron decided to join forces and produce granola. Birkenstocks over dress shoes for the rest of their lives sounded too good to pass up!

GrandyOats is located in the beautiful lake region of Western Maine – full of oats, honey and nuts.  Today, Nat and Aaron oversee 28 employees.  Nat, the Head Honcho, and Aaron, the Chief Granola Officer. Together, they are GrandyOats.

To this day, they believe that a business is more about having a
positive impact than it is about making money. 

They continue to want to “live life organically, love the path they traveled and keep it real.”

After years of selling small batch granola to Maine co-ops and local natural food stores, GrandyOats ramped up production, adding in lines of organic roasted nuts, and trail mixes. They’ve kept artificial ingredients out of their recipes because “they believe you can’t fake good taste.”  From a bakery above a bookstore, to a 1910 dairy barn, to now, a solar powered schoolhouse, their journey follows the earth’s intrinsic model of bringing new life from the old. Now distributed nationwide, GrandyOats is proud to stay true to their roots, while balancing a growing business. Their organic products are still made in small batches in Maine, because after 40 years, they’ve learned that the purest pleasures are found off the beaten path.

The Verification

Their commitment to the environment begins with sourcing ingredients grown on organic farms. GrandyOats granolas, roasted nuts, and trail mixes are all USDA Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project verified by International Certification Services (ICS), a division of Where Food Comes From, Inc. The land used to cultivate the ingredients have not been treated with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified seeds. At GrandyOats their mission is to make delicious, healthy, organic foods that provide a variety of nutritional choices for everyone, including granolas that are: certified gluten-free, vegan, oil-free, paleo, grain-free and free of refined sugars.

What’s Next?  

GrandyOats is excited to partner with Where Food Comes From. In addition to working together toward transparency through the verification process, you can also find their products in the recently launched Where Food Comes From Market at the Colorado State University Campus Store.  GrandyOats products are also offered nationwide in larger chains like Sprouts Farmers Markets, Whole Foods Market, independent natural food stores and Co-ops. Of course you can always find their products sold online at grandyoats.com and amazon.com.  Their grain-free granolas are a new, delicious evolution of granola. These coconut-based organic granolas feature a nutritious blend of nuts and superfood seeds. The verified granolas are the perfect backpack snack, smoothie bowl topper or breakfast cereal. The possibilities are endless with GrandyOats.

To learn more about the verification process check out ICS, Where Food Comes From or GrandyOats.

 

Storybit : Unique Pretzels

Calling all pretzel lovers! If you’re like us, you’re completely twisted over this snacking staple. The likelihood you’ve come in contact with a pretzel recently is as likely as you’ve seen milk in your local grocery cooler. This distinctive baked snack is everywhere!  In fact, 180 million Americans consumed a pretzel in 2018.  That’s way too many for your snack bowl.  Recently on National Pretzel Day, we introduced you to our friends over at Unique Pretzels, and now we’re taking a deeper look into their mouthwatering products and fascinating story!  In fact, it might change the way you look at the traditional pretzel; from crispy bubbles and crunchy crevices, Unique Pretzels is a pretzel lover’s dream.

The Spannuth Legacy

Known for the “Original Split-Open Pretzel,” this six-generation family business has a lot of rich history and German heritage.  Trademarked in 1921, they knew early on their future was bright and pretzel shaped.  Over the years the recipes were perfected and some even created by mistake or maybe by miracle. Their unique slow baking process combined with letting their raw pretzels perfect over time equates to several delicious products.  Their original “Splits” consist of crispy bubbles and crunchy crevices that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.  Now, we can’t give away all the family secrets, you’ll just have to do some taste testing yourself.

In 1999, the sixth generation of Spannuth family pretzel operators joined the ranks – William and Justin Spannuth.  With new leadership and some buried family treasure consisting of secret pretzel ideas, the competitive brother duo was on their way to change the traditional pretzel industry.  Shortly after taking over, the team introduced the Extra Salted Multigrain Split Pretzels, but they didn’t stop there.  Knowing they had to do more to dominate the pretzel world, in 2009 they introduced an Organic recipe with health benefits called “Sprouted.”  Their wide range of products consisting of pretzel delicacies like sourdough, chocolate, pretzel shells and the original splits have truly made them “unique.” If you’re looking for something savory and sweet to dunk your pretzels, well they’ve thought of that too. Unique Pretzels offers multiple dip varieties to complement each pretzel flavor profile.   Rooted in the heart of the Pretzel Capital of the World – Pennsylvania – they plan on carrying on the family legacy for pretzel lovers for centuries to come.

The Simplicity Benefits Behind Unique Pretzel  

Unique Pretzel takes pride in their pretzels.  For generations, they have been baking their pretzels with the same “basic tried-and-true process” full of healthy ingredients and now, it happens to be a focus for consumers.  Unique Pretzels is proud to highlight their heritage of whole, simple and healthy ingredients.  In fact, most of their products contain only 5 simple ingredients!  They never add preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, malts, or sugars to their pretzels, so it’s a snack you can feel good about eating. From the Splits, Sourdough, Shells, and Sprouted, each pretzel is designed with a specific anatomy profile packed with a lot of crunch.

Verification

Today, all Unique Pretzel products are Non-GMO Project verified, and their Sprouted “Splits” and Shells are both Non-GMO Project and USDA Organic verified.

 They are Non-GMO Project Verifiedand USDA Organic through International Certification Services (ICS), a division of Where Food Comes From.  Over 50K products are verified today from the Non-GMO Project, which confirms that products have not been genetically engineered and that the ingredients used are not derived from GMOs. In order to receive this certification, it means that Unique Pretzel products have been though stringent provisions for testing, traceability and segregation.   They are also able to meet the standards set forth by the USDA for the Organic certification, which is another extremely stringent certification program!

Where to Buy Unique Pretzel Products

It’s obvious that Unique Pretzel is here for all pretzel lovers.  They strive to deliver their best snack to satisfy them all, and because of that (and the fact that we’re now starving) we’re off to grab some! They are currently sold across the U.S. from large grocery store chains to small independent markets.  They can be found in the salty snack aisle or the healthy snack aisle since they identify as both!  If you can’t find any in your local store, you’re able to order direct from their website, UniquePretzel.com, or on Amazon.com!

Enjoy!

Check out Unique Pretzel products here.
Learn more about ICS here.
Visit Where Food Comes From for more verification here.

 

LODI RULES : A Certified Winegrowing Sustainability Program

Swirl the glass of aromas, take a sip, and think about the flavors dancing around your palate.  Did you taste hints of sweet grapes or does it have a citrus flavor, perhaps even a dry cherry finish? As you take that next sip you’ve probably already made a mental note whether you liked it enough to have another glass.  Look at the wine in your glass, check out the color, smell it, and drink some more. While you’re enjoying that Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, or even a refreshing Pinot Grigio, did you think about the process to achieve such a smooth and balanced wine? Or maybe even how the grapes are farmed that end up in your wine?  Today, we are introducing you to LODI RULES and their Certified Winegrowing sustainability program.  So, pour another glass of that vino and pull up a chair.

LODI RULES

What do farmers and world-renowned scientists have to do with your wine?  Surprisingly a lot when it comes
to the sustainability process related to wine.  Launched in 2005, LODI RULES is the nation’s first-ever comprehensive sustainable winegrowing program. With more than 10 years of experience, this program has created the pathway for other sustainability programs from coast to coast. In fact, multiple vineyards, wine labels and lists carry one of the prestigious LODI RULES Certified Green labels. Headquartered just south of Sacramento, the Lodi region is one of the few American viticulture areas (AVA) with ancient vines that survived through the Prohibition era.  Today, hundreds of these treasured vines are part of the LODI RULES program – something truly unique to this region.  Little did they know, a mission started in 1992 to educate others and diminish the use of pesticides, would turn into a formal certification program with more than 1,000 certified vineyards to date.

Certification and Sustainability

LODI RULES promotes sustainable management of the entire vineyard ecosystem and is certified by Protected Harvest, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Santa Cruz, California, with the principal mission to advance use and adoption of quantifiable sustainable agriculture standards.  Protected Harvest functions first and foremost as an independent certifier, but also conducts reviews of standards developed by industry-leading organizations, to provide third-party validation and confirm they are based on sound science and designed to promote continuous improvement.

So, what does sustainable vineyard management mean?  To ensure the grapes are producing remarkable wine, while enhancing natural and human resources, LODI RULES certified vineyards are held to a rigorous set of standards.  Producing exceptional grapes is key in the wine industry.  Farmers carefully manage the quality of the soil and water – maximizing the water penetration and enhancing organic matter within the soil. Sustainable farming also includes pest management and using integrated systems to minimize potential risks to animals, water, and people.  Safety, business and human resource practices are all additional criteria required to carry the LODI RULES Certified Green certification.  Each of the 120+ farming practice standards are measurable, auditable, and address at least one sustainability aspect (environmental health, social equity or economic viability).  Today three seals exist; LODI RULES, CALIFORNIA RULES, and a universal rules seal. All of these seals carry the same stringent process for verification.

SureHarvest and Where Food Comes From

So how does Where Food Comes From fit into this equation?  That’s easy, let us introduce you to SureHarvest, a division of Where Food Comes From.  SureHarvest administers the LODI RULES certification process on behalf of Protected Harvest. They provide a digital platform for growers and auditors to track and analyze vineyard management practices.  SureHarvest also provides consulting solutions to the wine industry on sustainability strategy. The next time you grab that bottle of vino be sure to look for one of the LODI RULES Certified Green seals on the back because they truly know what it means to provide exceptional wine for future generations.

Learn more by visiting the links below!

Storybit : LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards

A century-old relationship with sweets, movies, candlelight, and great conversation.  Do you find yourself leaning toward a lukewarm merlot or a refreshing pinot grigio? Before you pop open that bottle of wine for an evening in or if you’re celebrating a special event let us introduce you to some individuals that helped make that possible.  This week we head to sunny California, where nearly 90% of all US wine is produced, to share the story of LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards.


The Story

Agriculture and climate are both key to producing the finest grapes, which are later used to create your favorite wines.  In 1974, identical twins, Randall and Bradford Lange, sought out to provide the best ripe grapes for wine production.  The twins started farming winegrapes with one vineyard, one varietal and 120 acres in Lodi. In 2006 their evolution continued, from winegrape growers to winemakers, when they took the next step and opened a winery. For those of us who have a love for wine, we never pass up an opportunity to visit and take in the experience a great winery has to offer.

The winery was a way to inspire future generations to see how their farm, communities and the agricultural way of life could thrive with the right focus.  Today, they are a multi-generational family working side-by-side to farm 29 varieties, 67 vineyards, and 8,100 acres, growing and crafting certified sustainable wines.  Starting in the Lodi Appellation the family expanded to additional regions – Clement Hills Sub-Appellation and Clarksburg, distinct areas that would allow their business to emerge.

All of their wines are proudly grown, crushed (pictured) and bottled in one location. Their commitment for winegrape growing and winemaking practices comes from their agricultural roots.  Farming land for wine lovers who value a genuine connection to people and the authenticity of a real place is a true passion for the family.  Each member of LangeTwins has unique responsibilities within the winery and play a pivotal role in the growth of the brand.  They look forward to working with the sixth generation of winegrowers.


Verification Services

LangeTwins certify their vineyards through the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing program (LODI RULES).  This is California’s original third party audited sustainable winegrowing program. It validates the farming techniques that LangeTwins have been practicing for decades, farming in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible while also being economically viable.

LODI RULES is certified by Protected Harvest, a  501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Santa Cruz, California, with the principal mission to advance use and adoption of quantifiable sustainable agriculture standards. Protected Harvest contracts with SureHarvest, a division of Where Food Comes From, to operate the program and manage the auditing and certification process.


The Benefits

LangeTwins is committed to a healthy environment producing the best quality grapes.  Sustainable business practices are top of mind when it comes to this family. With 67 individual vineyards, they farm, protect and preserve the land for generations to come. Certification through a rigorous, third-party program like Lodi Rules adds a level of credibility to their efforts and helps educate customers about the importance of sustainability. The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing program is the right fit for LangeTwins and helps to ensure all aspects of their business that include environmental health, social equity, and economic viability.  For us it can be difficult to understand the complexities of these programs. For that reason, LangeTwins family speaks to their sustainability efforts in the context of responsible farming and management of their business for future generations.  They hope their customers share their mindset of practical, measurable ways to reduce our overall impact while still being able to produce the highest quality wines.

Everything connects back to their love of farm and family. They are proud to craft wines which allow their farm, community and all of the families connected to thrive. They work diligently each day together to preserve the agriculture way of life.  To find out where you can purchase wines from LangeTwins please contact them at info@langetwins.com or visit their social media channels by searching @langetwins.

 

  

 

 

 

Storybit : Quarter Circle U Ranch

What does a doctorate in nuclear science have to do with animal science?  Scratching your head?  While neither have much to do with one another, they both are part of our latest Where Food Comes From story.  This week we visit Chuck Backus of Quarter Circle U Ranch in Arizona.  This former engineer turned rancher is taking beef quality to new heights.  Let’s find out how Chuck and his family are hitting the mark.  

The Background
For 36 years, Chuck Backus, a Virginia farm boy at heart, had a very high-profile academic career at Arizona State University (ASU).  In the 1960’s Chuck was part of the space program’s Mars Mission.  He later assisted with the world’s premier solar-testing laboratory and served as the first ASU associate dean of research in the 1990’s.  Although his academic career was extremely successful, Chuck felt something drawing him to return to the outdoor life.

In 1977, Chuck and his wife, Judy, purchased a 10-acre piece of land with a 22-section grazing lease of Arizona State Trust land.  Even though his commute to the college would be 45 minutes, he knew this was the place he would be calling home.  Chuck attended classes at Arizona State that focused on animal science and range management, and through trial-and-error practices, he was able to gain more hands-on experience.  He focused on land and water improvement and those improvements were recognized by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

Chuck knew there was more improvements to be made, which included adapting the Angus breed to the Arizona climate.  After extensive surveying of the land, Chuck developed an unusual cattle rotation plan by moving the herd to specific sectors of his ranch during specific months.  This allowed more cattle to be raised along with improving the overall quality of the land. In addition to improving the land and water, Chuck also worked tirelessly to improve the facilities for the cattle by adding new lanes for smoother cattle movement, tubs, and in-line electronic weight scales.

In 2004 Chuck retired from ASU to focus solely on ranching.  By 2006 he was collecting genetic information on his herd and he had determined there were ways to raise higher quality calves.  By understanding the genetic traits of his cattle, Chuck was able to provide a better tasting product for consumers.  In 2014 and 2015, 84% of his beef qualified for either “Prime” or other certified grades.  These calves were raised as “natural calves” carrying the “Verified Natural Beef” certification.  Chuck has had lots of success raising high quality cattle and remains extremely close to the community. He currently participates in multiple lectures and conferences educating other ranchers on modern techniques to produce quality products.

Audit Services
Today, the Circle U Ranch participates in the Source & Age, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) and Verified Natural Beef (VNB) verification programs through the IMI Global division of Where Food Comes From.  When asked why he utilizes verification programs, Chuck replied,

“I strive to raise gentle, high carcass quality calves in a very humane way, but in a very harsh environment in Arizona.  Each year, I have my calves and ranch operations inspected and certified by IMI Global.  By retaining ownership through a feedlot in Oklahoma and then selling to a specialty packer in Kansas, I am able to receive multiple premiums for my calves –  thanks to the IMI Global certifications.”

The Benefits
Over the last 5 years Chuck has received numerous awards for his advancements in the industry.  While his first goal was to raise highly efficient cattle so consumers had the best tasting product on their dinner table, his techniques have also improved other elements of farming, such as the land.  Chuck plans to help close the gap between farmers and suppliers to deliver better food for generations to come.

 

Storybit : Frozen Garden

We live in a fast-paced world where sometimes it seems like we are always on the go. When it comes to the effect that has on the food we eat, it can equate to a fast, convenient meal that probably isn’t providing you with all the nutrition your body needs. What if someone could make that easier? Our good friends at Frozen Garden did just that. Don’t have time for meal prepping? No problem! They did all the work for you with their frozen green smoothies. Just open a smoothie pack, blend and enjoy! It’s a quick nutritious meal you can have on the go. Let’s get blending and learn more about Frozen Garden.

Background Allyson Straka

Allyson Straka, corporate business mom turned entrepreneur, wanted more than her 9-5 job had to offer. She wanted to do something where she could not only better herself but help others. As she was expecting her first daughter, Allyson really started thinking about the food she was putting in her body and the effects that food was having on her and her child.Attempting to have a more balanced diet, her daily green smoothie routine turned into much more. She became obsessed with what was really in the food she ate. Fast forward to after her second daughter arrived, Allyson decided to ditch the corporate scene and became a certified Holistic Health Coach. Educating people on the real food movement was something she became very passionate about!

As a health coach, Allyson taught clients how to reduce their consumption of processed foods while getting back in their kitchens to cook real, nutrient-dense foods from scratch. For many, finding the time to shop and cook from scratch is their biggest roadblock. It was really frustrating to hear complaints about not being able to buy any “convenient” products.  That was when this entrepreneur took the challenge seriously and turned those frustrations into a major game changer. She wanted to create a healthy and convenient solution without chemicals or additives toprove that it is possible to eat healthy in our busy and fast-paced lives. Allyson began to brainstorm what the product should be.

After consulting her father, he asked, “If you could get your clients to do just one thing to improve their health, what would it be?”  Without hesitation she said, “Well, drink green smoothies every day!”  He responded, “How do you make that easier and more convenient for them?” Just like that, Frozen Garden was created.

Audit Services

Through Where Food Comes From, Frozen Garden is able to label their products as Non-GMO Project verified. The program is the most thorough third-party verification for Non-GMO products. In order to be certified and carry the label, they adhere to all processes under the Non-GMO Project standard. Frozen Garden products never contain sugar, gluten, dairy or soy. Their frozen green smoothiesare also vegan friendly.

The Benefits 

While all of Frozen Garden’s ingredients have always been Non-GMO, they are dedicated to continued transparency and believe everyone has a right to know what’s in their food and where it comes from. Where Food Comes From was instrumental in helping Frozen Garden receive their certification. By partnering with Where Food Comes From, the process became simple and easy to certify new products to their growing list. Allyson and the Frozen Garden team love being able to provide a healthy and convenient food solution to consumers without any powders, supplements or gimmicks.

Next time you’re looking for a quick, easy and nutritious meal remember Frozen Garden!   Frozen Garden green smoothies are made with 100% realfruits, veggies, seeds and spices andingredients are sourced from local farmers, when available. All you have to do isadd water and blend!  Sounds easy and delicious enough to us!

Learn more about Frozen Garden here.
Learn more about Where Food Comes From here.
Locate products with the Non-GMO Project label here

 

Storybit : Taylor Ranch

Here at Where Food Comes From, we love sharing the stories of those who support our vision and values when it comes to your food.  We head to Western Oklahoma this week to meet Jimmy and Tracy Taylor from Taylor Ranch. 

Taylor Ranch 

With generations of family farming experience, this husband and wife duo know a thing or two about raising quality cattle.  Jimmy and Tracy Taylor own and manage Taylor Ranch, a ranch they consider a “mom and pop operation,” located just south of Cheyenne, Oklahoma.  The ranch was started by Jimmy’s great-grandfather in 1914 and his father Jim was the first to manage the ranch in 1953.  After getting married the newlyweds quickly learned everything about the land where the ranch resided before taking over management in 1993.  From the start, their goal was to sell quality beef products creating a better eating experience for their consumers, and that same goal continues today.

Their herd currently includes approximately 600 Angus heifers (females) running on 12,000 acres in the heart of the rolling Red Shale Hills in western Oklahoma. When it comes to the maintenance of the cattle, both Jimmy and Tracy are extremely hands-on.  They care about their cattle and ensure each animal is receiving top notch care.

Happy cow, happy life – right?

Our definition of a happy cow is that at the end of every day, all her nutritional, mineral and health needs have been met and she is content and lying down.  When we have done this, we have done our job.  – Jimmy Taylor

 

Taylor Ranch strives to provide the best end-product possible for every consumer and to them that means happy and healthy cattle.  They treat every animal as if it is going to be served on their own table.  In order to provide a great eating experience, Taylor Ranch focuses on two things : verification programs and genetics.  Through DNA testing and genetic profiling, they are able to ensure they retain a high-quality herd.

In 2011, the Taylor’s won the Cattleman Commitment to Excellence Commercial Award.  Since becoming a recipient, the Taylor’s have continued to evolve their processes and care of their cattle.

Verification Process

As mentioned above, verification programs are a main focus for Taylor Ranch. Today, they partner with IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From, to participate in the Source & Age, Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) and Verified Natural Beef (VNB) and China Export Verification (EV) verification programs.

The Benefits of Verification

Verification is important to the Taylor’s because not only does it provide transparency to the consumer, but they also receive a premium for their hard work and dedication to providing the type of beef that consumers demand.  These programs also allow cattle to be eligible for buyers and brands seeking specialty markets that require these specific beef attributes, including export to China!

 

It’s evident that the Jimmy and Tracy Taylor of Taylor Ranch not only care about their animals, but also the experience that consumers receive at their dinner table.  It’s important that we remember their hard work and passion when we’re at the grocery store or our dinner table.  We love telling you these stories, and we can’t wait to share more!

Interested in learning more about the programs that Where Food Comes From offers?  Check them out here.