by Brittany Edwards '04
When Nicolette Hahn Niman '89 became a vegetarian in college she didn't anticipate her 2003 marriage to rancher Bill Niman (in a ceremony that took her back to Stetson Chapel). Today the couple live and work on BN Ranch in Bolinas, California, where they raise goats, heritage turkeys, pasture-fed beef and organic pigs for the likes of renown chefs Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) and Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns). Vegetarian meat raiser? It's not incompatible, and Hahn Niman shares her story in a recently published combination memoir and manifesto titled Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms.
Hahn Niman grew up in Kalamazoo, majored in biology at "K," graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, and served on the Kalamazoo City Commission. One fateful night in the winter of 1999 she saw Bobby Kennedy, Jr. speak in Kalamazoo about corporate environmental degradation.
Less than two years later she changed her focus to environmental law and helped Kennedy establish Waterkeeper, a coalition of citizen groups that protect watershed ecosystems and water quality. She served as a senior attorney for the organization. Kennedy pushed Hahn Niman headlong into a project to fight factory pig farming, which led her to lead and create a network of farmers, animal rights activists, farm unions, environmental organizations, and concerned citizens affected by factory farms.
Righteous Porkchop details the history of the transformation from family farms to industrial food production. The desire to create food quickly and easily during
Righteous Porkchop details the history of the transformation from family farms to industrial food production.World War II fueled the industrialization and overproduction of feed commodities including chickens, pigs, milk, fish, and feedlot beef. She does more than expose examples of pollution and negligence, she also offers solutions. She encourages sustainable shopping habits, alternative approaches for family farmers, and reasonable counterarguments to meat industry assertions.
You can find information on Righteous Porkchop at its website. Over time, Hahn Niman hopes the site will become a resource for more information and consumer resources. She has been recently featured in The New York Times, Mother Jones, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Atlantic Monthly. And she'll be the subject of a feature story in this fall's LuxEsto!