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 19. 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.
I’ve been covering grass fed hot dogs for many years and now and am greatly impressed with how many options there are on the market now. Even more so, there hot dogs which go a step further and sourced from regenerative farms. Regenerative agriculture not only involves grazing animals, but also means the farms have healthy soil, carbon sequestration, effective use of rain water, pollinator habitats, and biodiversity.
Since the 1960s, biologist Allen Savory has been supporting regenerative agriculture and has introduced holistic planned grazing to ranchers throughout the world. In 2009, he founded the Savory Institute to further this mission. More recently Land to Market to market was spun off from the Savory Institute to certify products as regenerative. All of the hot dogs listed here are certified regenerative by Land to Market.
In alphabetical order, here are 6 best regenerative 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 regenerative Do Good Hot Dog.
The team behind Force of Nature spent six years studying regenerative agriculture and touring ranches around the world before deciding to start their own company. So Force of Nature was founded on the principle of being able to jumpstart a global regenerative supply network. Their main focus in terms of products is ground meat from all types of animals, including a number of wild game. They also sell various cuts of their different animals. And then there’s the Force of Nature regenerative hot dogs, which come in their varieties of beef and bison + 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.
REP Provisions is a network of verified regenerative farms and ranches. All of the farms they partner with go through thorough scientific testing to measure the soil health, sequestered carbon, water quality, and biodiversity. In addition to being regenerative, they’re certified by the Audobon Society to be bird friendly. And for every meat box, sold, REP plants 100 milkweed seeds on their ranches to restore monarchs migration corridors. Through the REP website, consumers can order regeneratively raised beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. Their beef products include their hot dogs.
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.
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.