Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman

Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman are ranchers in Northern California. Nicolette is also an attorney and writer, and Bill is the founder of the natural meat company Niman Ranch, Inc. More

Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman are owners and operators of BN RANCH, a seaside ranch in Bolinas, California, where they raise their son Miles, grass-fed cattle, heritage turkeys, and goats. They were featured in an August 2009 cover story in TIME about the crisis in America's food system.

Nicolette is a rancher, attorney, and writer. Much of her time is spent speaking and writing about the problems of industrialized livestock production, including the book Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms (HarperCollins, 2009) and four essays she has written on the subject for the New York Times. She has written for Huffington Post, CHOW, and Earth Island Journal. Previously, she was the senior attorney for the environmental organization Waterkeeper Alliance, where she was in charge of the organization's campaign to reform the concentrated livestock and poultry industry, and, before that, an attorney for National Wildlife Federation. Nicolette served two terms on the city council for the City of Kalamazoo, Michigan. She received her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in Biology and French from Kalamazoo College.

Bill is a cattle rancher and founder of the natural meat company Niman Ranch, Inc. He was a member of Pew's National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which released recommendations for reform of the nation's livestock industry in April 2008. Niman has been named "Food Artisan of the Year" by Bon Appetit and has been called the "Master of Meat" by Wine Spectator, the "Guru of Happy Cows" by the Los Angeles Times, "a pioneer of the good meat movement" by the New York Times, "the Steve Jobs of Meat" by Men's Journal, and a "Pork Pioneer" by Food & Wine. The Southern Foodways Alliance named him its Scholar in Residence for 2009, stating that he was "this country's most provocative and persistent champion of sustainably and humanely raised livestock." Vanity Fair magazine has featured him in its "Green Issue," and Plenty magazine selected him as among the nation's five leading "green entrepreneurs." He has been honored with the Glynwood Harvest Good Neighbor Award. Bill co-authored The Niman Ranch Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2005), which was selected as one of the year's best cookbooks by the New York Times, Newsweek, and the San Jose Mercury News.

  • Heritage Turkeys: Worth the Cost?

    Narragansetts, Bourbon Reds, and the like cost about five times as much as standard Thanksgiving birds. So should you buy a main course that will gobble your wallet?

  • For Animals, Grass Each Day Keeps Doctors Away

    Two ranchers lock horns with another Atlantic writer and argue that animals that roam are healthier than others

  • The Cost of Wasted Food

    Americans toss up to half their food, causing hunger and harm to the environment.

  • How Good Meat Makes a Difference

    In response to an earlier post, the author reconfirms the importance of humanely-raised food.

  • Life and Death on the Ranch

    After a beloved cow succumbs to pneumonia, the authors are reminded of the importance of small family farms.

  • Schwarzenegger Lets Cows Keep Tails

    The California governor signed a bill ending a procedure that hurts livestock.

  • Is Meat Bad for the Environment?

    The legendary ranchers provide an emphatic answer to a ubiquitous question.

  • Looking Out For All Animals

    Pets are protected from abuse by national legislation. Why not farm animals?

  • Why Raise Your Own Chickens?

    Starting your own chicken coop may not save money, but it offers other rewards.

  • Keeping the Ranch Safe From Predators

    Animals from dogs to llamas can protect the ranch from coyotes, bobcats, and more.

  • The Ranch's Newest Residents

    A colony of a dozen swallows has made its nest on the authors' barn.

  • The Dangers of Animal Antibiotics

    Overuse of antibiotics on livestock poses risks for animals and humans alike.

  • Why We Raise Goats

    Why two legendary ranchers started raising goats--and why you should add their meat to your diet.

  • The Lesson of Swine Flu

    The swine flu pandemic highlights a decades-old problem: industrial animal farming poses serious public health risks. The authors, who practice humane farming practices on their California ranch, explain how they think the food system should change to keep both animals and people healthy.

  • The Downside of Lower Feed Prices

    The price of hay, an essential part of a cow's diet, is down 40 percent this year. But many cattle ranchers aren't celebrating because it's a sign of tough times for dairy farmers. The authors explain the complicated calculations that occur as they decide how much hay to buy this year.

  • What Do Fresh Turkey Eggs Taste Like?

    Breeding season begins and, with it, a new turkey flock on the ranch. The eggs spark endless curiosity as people ask what they look and taste like. Though turkey eggs may look much different than their more popular chicken counterparts, they actually taste quite similar.

  • Making Farming Truly Sustainable

    Government agriculture subsidies should make farming a full-time job.

  • Produce Is Seasonal. Why Not Meat?

    Most Americans assume meat is year-round, but it has a season. Animals grace on grass, after all, which, like any plant, is seasonal itself. Ignoring the seasonality of meat is bad for animals, bad for the environment, and bad for us.

  • "Natural" Meat: Still as Unnatural as Ever

    It's shocking what passes for "natural" at your local grocer's meat counter. It would be easy to just blame factor farms, but the truth is that the USDA's weak animal treatment standards let agribusinesses run wild. But it doesn't have to be this way.

  • How About a White House Chicken Flock?

    The Obamas' new garden is great news -- just ask Alice Waters. But why stop there? Keeping a live chicken flock was once the norm for farmers as well as city-dwellers, and, more than just eco-friendly, live chickens are great exercise.

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