Do you love a cookout with family and friends? Have you ever wondered where pork on your grill comes from, how it’s produced, and the ways that you can share it with your friends and family? Well, get your taste buds ready, because we are diving into one of Wisconsin’s most iconic food staples and going on a flavorful journey through the heart of Wisconsin's farmland with the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association, and one of Wisconsin’s best-known sausage producers in Johnsonville.
Families enjoying meals together are as Wisconsin as Wisconsin comes. Whether tailgating, sitting down at the kitchen table, or “grilling out” these gatherings provide an opportunity for togetherness. Our co-host, Jack Taylor drives to Governor Dodge State Park to meet with Melissa and family from Wolf L&G Farms and explore one of the most beautiful parts of the state, and grill some locally sourced pork products. Governor Dodge State Park is chock-full of many beautiful peaks and valleys. Hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, swimming, and having a local grill out are just a few of the many things you can do at this iconic Wisconsin state park!
After exploring with the Wolf family, Jack sits down to talk more about the pork that came directly from their family farm. Wolf L&G Farm is a third-generation farm that produces Wisconsin local foods like pork and beef while focusing on sustainable practices and good stewardship of their land. Not only that but they are extremely involved in the community and love to invite locals out to their farm to experience the farm-to-table atmosphere!
We have so many amazing farmers and producers within the agricultural community of Wisconsin, and one important piece of the pork industry is the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association. The association is the primary source for representing the state’s pork industry! While the association is known for its commitment to enhancing the success of all types of producers across the state, they also help educate consumers and ensure that the businesses who are supporting producers are successful as well.
Throughout the year the WPPA has attended several events across the state such as the well-known Wisconsin State Fair. This year the Pork Schoppe will be right outside the Wisconsin Products Pavillion where you can get some of the most iconic pork staples such as the butterfly pork chop sandwich, a pork burger, and even a pork chop on a stick!
You can learn more about the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association and who they are, events they take part in, producers around the state, youth programs, educational opportunities, and more by clicking here.
If you’re a true Wisconsinite, you’ve visited the Wisconsin state fair at least a time or two. And if you didn’t already know, they are famous for “things on sticks” like the widely loved Pork Schoppe. But the Pork Schoppe isn’t the only place to enjoy pork at the state fair, the Johnsonville Big Taste Grille is definitely a Wisconsin favorite that you can’t miss out on! The Big Taste Grille has raised over $4.5 million dollars since 1995 and prides itself on giving back to the communities they visit around the country. In the ‘From Farm to Flavor: A Food Tour’ episode from season 34, our co-host, Eric Paulsen, spent the day asking State Fair attendees what they love best about pork and how they dress their brats. But now, let’s head to the source itself… Johnsonville!
Right in Sheboygan Falls, you can find the original facility for Johnsonville. Johnsonville first started in 1945 as a little butcher shop and is now known as the largest sausage manufacturer in the country! Now, they have over 2,000 members who are dedicated to ensuring the excellence and ‘big flavor’ of a true Johnsonville sausage. Not only are they dedicated to big flavor, but also sustainability by working in a way that helps others see that they care about the people and planet as much as they care about business. Learn more about Johnsonville’s commitment to sustainability here.
Matthew Edgar, producer of ‘From Farm to Flavor: A Food Tour’ shares his insider’s take of what the entire episode production was like from beginning to end:
"The “From Farm to Flavor” episode was a fantastic experience, and I was humbled by the amount of hospitality and kindness I received during the filming of this episode. The Wolf family was incredibly welcoming, and I can't thank them enough for taking the time out of their super busy schedule to accommodate us. Johnsonville was also wonderful to us - not to mention that their team is an absolute blast to hang out with! I really felt like everyone I interacted with there was truly happy and living their best life.
In terms of filming the show, the Governor Dodge State Park segment was great because I absolutely love any reason I can get into our state parks. Plus, the food that was cooked up was delicious to eat after we were done filming. It was also entertaining to see Jack and the Wolf boys get so competitive with the lawn games. Those sessions were as intense as you see in the segment!
The state fair was nothing short of hilarious when we were asking people how they cook and dress a brat. There was almost no consensus, and there were a lot of odd answers that didn't even make it into the final cut. That day was also 100 degrees outside, and we were filming these intensely hot grills. I don't think I've ever sweat so much in my life!
Visiting the Johnsonville facility was really interesting, and this was a segment where I wish we had a whole episode. I would have loved to do one or two segments alone with the meat scientists and the tasting teams. These people are highly trained scientists and artists, and I was impressed by the sheer amount of thought and energy that goes into developing new flavors and products. The sensitivity of their pallets and the way these people were able to accurately articulate the tastes and textures that I was experiencing was pretty mind-blowing. Truly fascinating stuff.
Lastly, seeing the Wolf's farm was impressive. The sheer amount of technology and machinery was remarkable. I think the thing that really settled in with me after the farm tour was the fact that to be a farmer today is to be a technician, an engineer, a mechanic, a vet, a crop grower, an animal dietician...the list goes on and on! I don't know how one can be so knowledgeable across so many different areas of expertise. Lastly, I really appreciated how they were able to integrate everything so seamlessly into one of the most beautiful and peaceful landscapes I've experienced in Wisconsin."
After all of that, what type of pork-based meal are you hungry for? We sure know that we’re craving the pork from the Wisconsin state fair! Watch more on this Wisconsin favorite in our new Discover Wisconsin episode, ‘From Farm to Flavor: A Food Tour’ now:
About Wisconsin Pork Association: The Wisconsin Pork Association is the primary source for representing the state’s pork industry, known for its commitment to enhancing the success of all sizes and types of production in the state, as well as that of the businesses that support those producers.
About Johnsonville: Johnsonville has a moral responsibility to create and maintain an environment that requires each member to fully develop their God-given talents. We achieve this by living the Johnsonville Way. It is their moral and ethical obligation to ensure their animals are treated humanely at all times. As they have always done, they continue to improve equipment and facilities, educate their employees in ethical treatment practices and actively pursue new technology to further enhance the handling practices.
Kortnee Hass: Digital Media Associate for Discover Mediaworks. A Wisconsin ‘now & forever’ transplant with a soft spot for squeaky cheese curds, craft breweries, and all things Wisconsin tourism.