Bon Appétit is proud to offer our congratulations to our Farm to Fork partners Melissa and Aaron Miller of Miller Livestock on being the first Food Alliance certified livestock farm in Ohio.
The Millers raise grassfed beef and lamb, pastured pork, chickens and turkeys, and laying hens on 168 acres in Kinsman, Ohio — about 70 miles from Cleveland. Bon Appétit Dining Services at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland has long been buying the Millers’ pork, and the past year bought half of their hogs. On February 21, Bon Appétit announced a groundbreaking commitment to improving animal welfare practices. Part of that promise is to buy even more humanely raised meat from folks like the Millers who have taken the trouble to have their practices verified by a third party. That’s why our team at Case Western has encouraged the Millers to seek Food Alliance certification even offering to reimburse them for the $450 application costs.
Food Alliance is an independent agency that evaluates farms’ standards for safe and fair working conditions, humane animal treatment, and careful stewardship of ecosystems. Food Alliance’s are among the highest standards around. Take a gander at the Food Alliance map, and you’ll see that the Millers are a lone dot in the state, and one of only a handful of Food Alliance certified operations that far east.
Melissa and Aaron truly enjoy working with Bon Appétit, and thanked us for our role in helping them attain Food Alliance certification. “They really pushed us to take it to the next step” Melissa said, and “we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome”. Melissa even came to Case Western during our East Local Challenge day in September to talk to students in the cafeteria about their product.
I visited the Millers’ farm recently, and I could tell that the Millers are extremely passionate about what they do and have a good time doing it. They told funny stories about each of the animals they raise. On the pigs, of which about half go to Bon Appétit cafés: “They’ll run up to greet you, then run away, then run back to see what they ran away from,” Melissa said, laughing, “like it’s too exciting for them.”
The cattle are apparently partial to Aaron’s uniform of blue hooded sweatshirts, so much so that anytime he wears something different they think he’s someone else and don’t really trust him! They’re so observant of Aaron’s wardrobe, that “if he has his raincoat on, they don’t like that because it’s a different color” Melissa said. The turkeys, meanwhile, make a content cooing sound whenever they’re rotated to a new piece of grass, a much appreciated thank-you for the effort Aaron puts forward to move their portable fence and house.
Predators are one of the many challenges of farming. Melissa and Aaron unfortunately lost a number of turkeys when a dog got through the fence. In an effort to keep predators out in the future, they put a radio in the barn. Aaron swears that the turkeys sang along to the radio, and had a particular affinity for hard rock.
Congratulations Aaron and Melissa, we’re excited to stamp Food Alliance Certified on your delicious pork so that all of our customers can know just how extraordinary you really are.