WFCF Launches WFCF Gluten Free Standard

Sensitivity to certain ingredients has become increasingly common in the food community. It’s almost certain that you’ve heard a lot about gluten sensitivity over the last few years or maybe you actually know someone who has some level of intolerance to gluten-based foods. In fact, Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine when gluten is consumed, affects 1% of Americans today. That means at least 3 million people in our country are living with celiac disease and a great majority of them are undiagnosed.  The heightened awareness around gluten sensitivities has many consumers exploring gluten free diets, resulting in a gluten free food market that is set to reach $6.43 billion by 2025.

The growing popularity of gluten free diets and foods has led brands to respond to these demands. They are utilizing labeling claims related to whether the food contains any form of gluten proteins.  Unfortunately, a lack of national and international standards exists about how to properly measure and label the term “gluten free.”  Some of the claims you see on packages remain unverified today.  So how can you trust the gluten free claims on your food packages?

WFCF Gluten Free

The WFCF Gluten Free program includes a combination of quantitative analysis, segregation and traceability to ensure the ingredients and products themselves being marketed are gluten free. Part of this process includes the management of eliminating the introduction of gluten proteins whether that be accidental or otherwise during food production. WFCF ensures that all parts of the process from manufacturing, storage, and packaging is certified under the proper standards, and requires finished products to be tested to ensure the absence of gluten proteins.  Testing is done down to the parts-per-million (ppm), and any product that tests above 10ppm for gluten is not eligible for certification.

Why Trust WFCF Gluten Free?

As a consumer you should have confidence in the claims food companies make on their packages.  That is why independently verified claims through third-party companies like Where Food Comes From (WFCF) are so important. WFCF understands the importance of being transparent about the claims on the food products you are feeding yourself and your family. Gluten Free certification isn’t a fad, but rather a necessity for those with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity.

If you’d like to learn more about the WFCF Gluten Free Standard you can find more information on their website here.

Feed Verified Program

Over the last few months we’ve shared dozens of stories about our farmers, ranchers, and partners and the verification processes they participate in.  If you’ve been a regular blog reader you’ve likely come to understand that those verification processes include multiple pillars covering specific guidelines that provide the framework for the food certifications. From worker care, animal welfare, and environment standards, all of these categories are extremely critical when it comes to the food we eat.  Did you know that even the feed animals eat can impact their eligibility for certain verification programs? IMI Global, a division of Where Food Comes From, offers the Feed Verified program as a way to ensure farmers and ranchers that the feeds they are purchasing or are looking to purchase meet the requirements of certain programs.  Feeds are a critical component to achieving verification and can also be a risk area when it comes to compliance, which is why the layer of assurance Feed Verified provides is increasingly valuable to livestock owners.

IMI Global

As a leading provider of verification solutions, IMI Global understands the need to provide a variety of services when it comes to program quality and customer expectations.  As you’ve learned in earlier blogs, IMI Global supports verification services for the livestock industry, including beef, pork, dairy, poultry, bison and eggs.  IMI Global is constantly evolving, improving and growing based on what the market is demanding, and Feed Verified is a perfect example of how industry needs prompt program innovation. Let’s take a look!

Feed Verified  

Feed Verified is a resource for livestock producers to search feeds that have been reviewed and verified to meet certain requirements. Feeds can be verified for use in multiple programs, including: Non-Hormone Treated Cattle, Verified Natural, Non-GMO Project Verified, Organic Certification, and the GAP 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program.

The number one reason an animal is not able to be approved for one of the programs named above is due to their consumption of a non-compliant feedstuff.  Many feeds in the marketplace today are labeled as Natural, but when it comes to these detailed program requirements, they often contain ingredients that do not comply.  Therefore, producers are often unknowingly misled when they purchase a “natural” feed and then during their audit find out it contains a prohibited substance and disqualifies their cattle.

This is why Feed Verified has become a valuable tool for producers.  The peace of mind it provides is paramount to their operational success.  You can see the complete list of Feed Verified products here, including Alltech’s featured feeds, the very first Feed Verified brand to enroll in the program. Stay tuned for more details on Alltech’s many programs!

Getting Involved

If you’re interested in becoming involved with Feed Verified or want more information you can email info@imiglobal.comor visit their website at www.imiglobal.com.  Where Food Comes From and IMI Global are dedicated to driving value and authenticity for both food producers and consumers.  Please be sure to follow us on our social networks to stay up to date on new and exciting programs.

Learn more about IMI Global’s Specialty Programs HERE.

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) and Verified Natural Beef.

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.