Background: Headquartered in Sonora, California, Diestel Family Ranch is one of the few, small, family-owned and operated ranches left in the nation. Founded in 1949, the company is currently run by the fourth-generation of the Diestel family, producing dozens of clean-label, seasonal and year-round refrigerated and frozen turkey products for retail and foodservice sales. 

Why we started a sustainability program: We’ve been obsessive about sustainable farming long before it was popular to do so. Since 1949, we’ve taken an aggressive approach when it comes to sustainability because we’re farmers. As people who are deeply connected to this planet, we know all too well that our natural resources are not only critically important to what we do, but are also under increasing strain. That’s why we’re constantly finding ways to reduce our overall impact on the environment, increase our regenerative farming efforts, rebuild the soil, and restore biodiversity.

Diestel's fresh-ground turkey

Diestel's fresh-ground turkey utilizes an innovative vacuum seal, eliminating the need for a poultry diaper underneath the meat, reducing packaging waste in the process.

What our short-term sustainability goals are: One of the most important and immediate short-term needs any farm faces is ensuring a plentiful, healthy water supply. Unfortunately, far too many farming operations rely on water that’s been heavily chemically treated, arrives in dirty pipes, and needs to be treated again on-site so the animals don’t become sick from ingesting it. Here at Diestel, we only use fresh well water and clean our equipment with probiotics—not chemicals—to create a healthy microbial environment. In addition, we treat the water with a state-of-the-art membrane filtration technology, which in turn reduces the amount of groundwater we consume.

Diestel to expand its composting programOne of the long-term sustainability goals at Diestel to expand its composting program, which keeps organic waste out of landfills, and helps reduce water usage at the farm by improving the soil's ability to hold water.

What our long-term sustainability goals are: A great example of our approach to long-term sustainability is reflected in our composting program. We take the responsibility to produce amazing compost because we know that in order to produce high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, you need healthy soil. Instead of sending our organic waste to a landfill, where it can’t help anyone, we turn ours into a valuable, nutrient-dense compost that creates a healthy, diverse environment for microbiology to thrive no matter where it’s used. 

Because our compost is so nutrient-rich, one yard of ours can do the job of ten yards of commodity compost made in a nearby city, which reduces the amount of carbon expelled. For example, one truck hauling one load of quality compost compared to making ten trips to haul ten loads of commodity compost means better farm yields with fewer inputs, and reduction in water usage by improving the soil’s ability to hold water.

Heidi Diestel is part of the fourth-generation Diestel familyHeidi Diestel is part of the fourth-generation Diestel family currently overseeing operations at the company, and implementing their sustainability efforts.

How we source sustainably: We take our time to raise traditional and heirloom birds on a fresh-milled, proprietary, all-vegetarian feed blend without fillers, growth stimulants, or antibiotics, ever. This proprietary blend encourages slow growth and big, bold, delicious and ethically-produced, real turkeys that we’re proud of. In addition, unlike most producers in the industry that use only one standard breed to fill a 10 to 40-plus pound weight range, we use many different breeds of turkeys and allow each to fully mature at their naturally intended weight and exhibit natural behavior. With plenty of fresh air and space to roam, whether indoors or outdoors, our turkeys are raised with almost double the space as conventional birds.

How we process and package sustainably: We’re constantly evaluating our packaging to ensure it’s as functional and streamlined as possible, with no unnecessary components. Our fresh ground turkey lineup is a great example of this, as we utilize an innovative vacuum seal to keep the products fresh, removing the need for the typical poultry diaper, which for years has gone straight into people’s trash. These products also come in a recyclable tray, which serves as an all-in-one meat-prep container and eliminates the need for an extra mixing bowl and clean up. This in turn also saves water and paper towels.

How we distribute sustainably: Over the past year, we’ve looked closely at our pallet and case pack configurations and are working to optimize our freight for more streamlined distribution. Our goal is to continue to reduce the number of trucks needed to move our products.

How we let customers know we’re practicing sustainability: A big part of our entire brand is clearly articulating our approach to sustainability. Our website, our blog, and all of our social media channels frequently highlight these efforts, as does our packaging that regularly makes clear, big call-outs to these kind of product attributes, such as no antibiotics ever, certified organic, and Non-GMO Project Verified.