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Bill Niman built a $65 million empire on a simple idea that revolutionized the food world - that meat could be more than just what's for dinner. It could be raised naturally, humanely and sustainably, better for people and the planet. Niman knew success would take time, but believed his methods would prove profitable.
But in nearly 30 years of existence, despite becoming the darling of high-end chefs and turning the brand into a household name, Niman Ranch never did turn a profit. In fact, it was broke. To save it from Bankruptcy Court, the East Bay company merged last month with its chief investor, Chicago's Natural Food Holdings LLC, and Niman was officially out.
The 64-year-old Bolinas man said he can live with losing the business he built from scratch. But he can't stand quietly by, he says, while the new owners fundamentally change the brand that influenced an entire food movement. He refuses to eat their products.
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