All farm to fork vendor visits offer new things to see and learn, but a group of Northern California Bon Appétiters from University of the Pacific, Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco, and Bon Appétit HQ were in hog heaven when they toured Loveland Farms in Petaluma, CA, on a recent hot afternoon. They got to learn all about the 600 or so gestation crate–free, pasture-raised pigs.
Owner Pete Langley told the group how when he inherited his father’s farm, he converted it into a space to grow and care for heritage pigs. The breed takes longer to raise than others, but the attention and care result in higher-quality meat. Loveland puts into practice many values in line with Bon Appétit’s, from humane care of the animals to the long list of sustainable practices observed in-house. In a no-waste system, Loveland pigs eat scraps and surplus products from local businesses, including a mix of bread, brewers’ grain, and milk.
By eliminating gestation crates and controlling the breeding process to result in fewer litters than larger commercial productions try to squeeze in, Pete says, the animals have more space and better quality of life, and Pete’s team can observe each pig closely to make sure they are comfortable and healthy.
Following the overview of the breeding and birthing process, Pete led the Bon Appétit team out to his family’s expansive pasture. Once they’re old enough, the pigs are moved outside to run and roam. Particularly during summer, the pigs can be found napping and cooling off in their own food troughs!
All the Bon Appétit guests were grateful for the up-close view of such a sustainable and humane operation.