The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council recognizes July as National Hot Dog Month and is observing National Hot Dog Day this year on Wednesday July 21. The Council celebrates it in July as they see the hot dog as a vibrant part of Americana and want it to occur the same month we celebrate our nation’s independence. National Hot Dog Day has been honored for decades in Washington D.C. Over 1,000 legislators, Administration employees, and political staffers gather in the Capitol Hill courtyard for a large hot dog picnic. July also makes sense for National Hot Dog Month as hot dogs are consumed everywhere in the summer from backyard barbecues to baseball games.
For me, hot dogs are one of the first types of meat I remember eating as a child. But like all foods, I now want to consume properly sourced franks. These are one of the hardest foods to find more natural versions of as they’re a rather processed product in general. When searching for better choices in hot dogs, it’s important to pick ones with just the basic ingredients needed.
As the Appropriate Omnivore, the first thing I look for in a frankfurter is that they’re 100% grass fed. It’s also best to go for hot dogs which are nitrate and nitrite free (also known as uncured) as well as not containing any MSG, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial color. All of the hot dogs listed below fit these criteria.
We’re seeing more and more 100% grass fed beef brands pop up in supermarkets. Many of them include hot dogs among their many products. Additionally, there are no a good amount which are not only fed entirely grass but also on farms practicing methods of regenerative agriculture. Several of these ones have gotten certified regenerative by the Savory Institute‘s Land to Market program.
In alphabetical order, here are 12 options for grass fed and grass finished hot dogs:
Although Applegate‘s 100% grass fed hot dog wasn’t introduced until 2006, its mission was the same as mine in writing this article. In 1987, Stephen McDonnell and his friend Christopher Ely bought Chris’ family business Jugtown Smokehouse, which produced smoked meats without any synthetic nitrates. Stephen started the business with the purpose of asking “what if you weren’t afraid to read a hot dog ingredient label?” Next they made deli meat which was antibiotic free, followed by introducing the first widely distributed deli meat with an organic certification. In 2015, all of their beef products became 100% grass fed. In 2017, their hot dogs became verified by The Non-GMO Project. Applegate also has corn dogs, breakfast and dinner sausages, cheeses, bacon, breaded chicken, grilled chicken strips, and burgers patties. Their most recent launched was the Do Good Hot Dog, which is a frank sourced with beef from regenerative agriculture andLand to Market certified.
For over 50 years, CharcutNuvo has been giving us sausages with the highest quality ingredients. They require any rancher who partners with them to raise animals ethically on a sustainable farm where no hormones and antibiotics are administered. CharcutNuvo only sources from farms in the United States, with the exception of some of its bison from Canada and its elk from New Zealand. All of their lines are free of nitrates and nitrites and they have an organic line. CharcutNuvo never uses artificial ingredients, chemicals, or unneeded fillers such as sugar. Their sausages and hot dogs are all made at their Denver plant, which they own so they can have 100% control of what goes into the meat. CharcutNuvo is currently run by Eric Gutknecht, a fourth generation sausage maker. Eric moved to the U.S. from Switzerland when he was 3 and purchased the company from his parents in 2003. Their products include hot dogs and many types of sausages, plus some European meats like liverwurst.
Dakota 100% Grass Fed sources its beef from producers, ranchers, and farmers in the United States, Uruguay, and Australia. All of their partners must be committed to allowing their cattle to graze nutrient rich grass, produce organic beef, provide records of traceability, and make the processing of the meat as humane as possible. In addition to hot dogs, ground beef, frozen patties, roast cuts, and steak cuts can all be found from Dakota in supermarkets.
Eel River Organic Beef
Eel River Valley native Clint Victorine’s passion for cattle ranching dates back to when he was a member of Future Farmers of America in high school. Clint then went on to major in ag business at Cal Poly followed by a cow calf and stocker cattle operation after his graduation in 1996. In 2000, the Eel River Brewing Company put his grass fed beef on their grill menu and convinced to him move into organic beef. Clint saw the demand and met with some independent ranchers in the Eel River Valley to see they’d be interested in raising their cattle organically. Eel River Organic Beef remains an alliance of small family-owned ranches. In addition to hot dogs, Eel River has steaks and ground beef.
Wagyu beef is known for being well marbled, having great texture, and tasting flavorful, but not a lot of it is 100% grass fed. The First Light Wagyu Producers Group, a collective of 61 farmers in New Zealand, took up the challenge of raising Wagyu cattle on grass and out of their pens. Their hot dogs are among other products they sell, including ground beef and various cuts of steak.
Grass Run Farms
Grass Run Farms is another collaboration of family farms. They use affidavits to trace the animals back to the grasses and farms they were raised on. Grass Run Farms believes in raising cows on grass for the health benefits, the environmental advantages of maintaining healthy soil and sequestering carbon, and the way the agricultural method treats livestock humanely. Grass Run Farm has been recognized by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) for its efforts in sustainability. They follow the six core principles for sustainable beef production, which are animal health and well-being, efficiency and yield, water resources, land resources, air and greenhouse gas emissions, and employee safety and well-being. Grass Run Farms produces hot dogs along with other types of sausages plus steaks, roasts, and fresh and frozen ground beef.
Mark and Vicky Keller devised Keller Crafted in 2001 on the belief that they could make the world a better place through how we farm, eat, and support each other. Their mission was to create a farm-direct-food chain consisting of progressive farmers, regenerative agriculture, animal welfare, and nourishment. A major commitment of Mark and Kelly’s was also to create transparent and long-term relationships with their farms and their consumers. The animals they raise are grass fed beef and lamb, pasture raised chicken, heritage breed pork, and pasture grazed turkey. Their hot dogs specifically come from Richards Grassfed Beef, which is the first Land to Market beef producer in the western states.
Nurture Ranch set out on a mission to improve beef with the utmost transparency. They started doing so by putting up a tracking number on their packages. The number can then be entered on their website, letting the consumer know everywhere the cow went from birth to harvest. Every pack of Nurture Ranch meat comes from 1-Steer™. The cows are raised on grass year round in Texas. Independent lab tests have found their beef is 100% cleaner than industry standards. Nurture Ranch has been using these practices with all of their products from hot dogs to ground beef to steaks to organ meats to bones.
Old World Naturals
Old World Naturals is a collection launched by a fourth generation family in the deli meat business. Old World is proud to now be sourcing its meats from sustainable farms. They’re currently looking at new ways to support sustainability and regenerative agriculture on a larger scale. In terms of their current practices, their hot dogs use 100% grass fed beef as does their roast beef, corned beef, and pastrami. Old World Naturals also makes cold cuts with antibiotic free turkey and nitrate free ham.
In 1988, seven Wisconsin farmers in the Coulee region were fed up with industrial chemical farming taking over the American agriculture system. They created a cooperative of family farms known as CROPP (Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool). The coop later became Organic Valley, specializing in organic dairy. In 1996, they moved into the meat industry with Organic Prairie. They were the first in the industry to ban animal by-products from a cow’s diet. Today, they’re a cooperative of over 2,000 farms in 34 states plus Canada and Australia. They launched their hot dogs in 2013. Other recent developments by the coop include the Mighty Organic brand, which has 100% grass fed beef jerky and bars, and a 100% grass fed milk. Today, they’re a cooperative of over 2,000 farms in 34 states plus Canada and Australia.
Northern California sixth generation cattle rancher Darrell Wood felt he wasn’t being rewarded or recognized for raising cattle entirely on grass and never giving them hormones or antibiotics. After discovering that consumers in San Francisco appreciated what he did, Wood formed Panorama Meats with two of his friends. Today Panorama Meats has over 1 million acres of USDA certified organic grasslands spanning the nine states of California, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Colorado. In addition to raising cattle naturally, Wood has established land conservation trusts throughout the U.S. guaranteeing that the land will be used for grazing and not torn down for real estate development. Hot dogs are one of the items which Panorama Meats sells along with steaks, roasts, meatballs, beef sticks, and bone broth.
The story of Parker Pastures began simply with a family wanting to feed their children food which was the best for them and for the earth. The Parker family started ranching themselves in order to know what they were eating, where it came from, and how it was raised. Their first meats were beef and lamb, which were 100% grass fed, organic, and living on mountain meadows. Their friends and neighbors soon wanted to buy their meat and Parker Pastures was born. When their mother was diagnosed with cancer, they became even more concerned with finding healthy food. They wanted to consume other proteins which equaled the quality of their beef so that even their mom could eat it while healing. This led to Parker Pastures collaborating with pork and chicken farmers and giving people across the country access to Colorado’s best pork and chicken. Among their many beef products, are their hot dogs.
For over 30 years, Pasture Perfect has been in the premium grass fed meat business. All of their products contain 100% grass fed beef from New Zealand. Pasture Perfect has a strict grading system for selection of its cattle which includes confirmation and marbling of the meat produced and its breed. Some breeds marble at higher levels than others. Hot dogs are one of the items which Pasture Perfect sells along with steaks and ground beef. The company also has the Pilot Brands label for grass fed lamb.
Raise American is all about raising the bar extremely high when it comes to beef. All of the meat they supply is 100% grass fed, 100% organic, and 100% sustainable for the planet. Additionally, their beef comes entirely from America with ranches ranging across the country, including Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. Raise American has partnerships with its ranchers where they oversee the entire process from the pasture where the cow was born to how the cow is being treated on the farm to how the cow is transported. They’re encouraging all organic beef ranchers to go regenerative in order to revive the soil, replenish the land, and remove greenhouse gases. Raise American president Scott Lively wrote the book For the Love of Beef: The Good, the Bad and the Future of America’s Favorite Meat, which covers everything about beef from the different cuts to the benefits of being grass fed. Their hot dogs are one of many of their offerings, which also include steaks, ground beef, frozen burger patties, and meatballs.
Strauss started in 1937 as Strauss Brothers Packing, which provided high quality farm fresh meats to people in the Milwaukee neighborhood. About two decades later, it became an internationally known brand. Today, the company is run by Randy and Tim Strauss, who have evolved Strauss into partnering with family farms producing meat which is sustainable and humanely raised. They sell in supermarkets and have an online store where their hot dogs along with their cuts of grass fed beef and lamb can be ordered and delivered to your home.
Beginning out as an experiment in environmental conservation, Teton Waters Ranch discovered how they can replenish the abused soil of an old potato farm by the means of planting native grasses, cattle rotation, and the livestock fertilizing where they eat. These practices led to a system of food which is both sustainable and healthy. They ended up forming a company which produced hot dogs and sausages made from grass fed and finished beef. They’ve since partnered with the Savory Institute, a worldwide nonprofit with the goal of restoring grasslands using holistic management. Teton Water has also recently expanded their line to include burger blends, giving us a healthy and balance mix of meats and vegetables.
Matt Meier worked for 20 years in conventional food marketing before he returned home to the farm he grew up on. In 2003, he founded Thousand Hills with the mission of nourishing the soil, the plants, cattle, and people by holistically grazing cattle for their entire lives. His home farm in Clearwater, MN is one of the 13 Savory Institute hubs in North America as the ranch is a leader in holistic and regenerative grazing practices. Thousand Hills now sources cattle from other family farms which they’ve hand picked for their similar deep commitment to regenerate land and having nutrient rich beef as a result. The farms range from the midwest, northeast, and west regions of the United States. Already 600,000 acres of land has seen positive benefits. Hot dogs are part of a diverse amount of products which can be found from Thousand Hills, such as bone broth, chili, ground beef, sausages, steaks, roasts, jerky, and sticks. All of their products are now Land to Market certified regenerative.
True Story Foods
The people running True Story are third-generation food producers who have visited farms throughout America and Europe. Their methods for making their products go back to the way their fathers and grandfathers did things. True Story says their mission extends way beyond putting food on people’s plates by running a business which supports farmers, producers, and growers so we have a sustainable world for the future generations. Their hot dogs are part of their line of cleaner deli meats, which consist of many different types of sausages and deli meats.
U.S. Wellness is one of the most successful online retailers in sustainable food. The business began in 2000 with working family farms in northeast Missouri and Illinois who been raising animals on the land for generations. Since then, they’ve partnered with a few other small family farms across the U.S. and their friends’ farm in Tasmania to provide all of their 100% grass fed and finished beef. U.S. Wellness gives their cattle a 30 – 45 day resting period between grazing to make the plants in the pasture more dense and grow back new native plants. Hot dogs are among their large varieties of beef, lamb, bison, pork, seafood, poultry, dairy, and even non-meat products such as nuts and chocolate.
The origins of White Oak Pastures date back to the late 1800’s. The Harris family has been raising cattle on the same farm in Georgia for five generations now. The family farm was first founded by Captain James Edward Harris right after the Civil War. He and his sharecroppers would butcher cows, hogs, and chicken every Saturday. In the early 1900’s, James’ son Will Carter Harris ran the farm. He upped the butchering to six days a week, delivered the food to local stores and places to eat, and built a commissary on the farm. After World War II, Will Bell Harris took control and made the farm more industrialized, using new chemical tools and having the animals slaughtered off site. In 1995, Will Harris III made the decision to return the farm to a production system which was better for the environment, the animals, and the consumers. Will reintroduced the multi-species rotational grazing practices used by his grandfather and great grandfather as well as building abattoirs on the farm to slaughter our animals. White Oaks prides itself on being a zero waste farm. In addition to food, they produce leather, pet chew rawhides, and tallow products. Also, the viscera from the cattle is composted and spread as fertilizer on the farm land’s soil. White Oaks additionally serves as a Hub for the Savory Institute, creating awareness in the marketplace about products which come from true practices of regenerative agricultural systems. Their hot dogs are among their many products of the various animals on their grasslands. The options are a 100% beef or a beef and pork hot dog.