How Applegate Farms’s Gina Asoudegan rode herd on the Do Good Dog

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“The recent dog is type of an envoy for the corporate,” says Gina Asoudegan, who for 16 years has helped Recent Jersey-based Applegate Farms fulfill its mission of “changing the meat we eat.” Although they aren’t Applegate’s top-selling item—chicken nuggets are—hot dogs, with their iconic American food status, have turn into a showcase for innovation at the corporate, which sells humanely raised, non-GMO, antibiotic-free deli meats, sausages, burgers, bacon, and cheese in greater than 22,600 stores nationwide. (Hormel Foods purchased the corporate in 2015 for roughly $775 million).

When it landed on grocery shelves last November, the Do Good Dog became the primary nationally distributed hot dog “made with beef raised on verified regenerative U.S. grasslands,” the culmination of a years-long effort by Asoudegan to exhibit that an organization of Applegate’s scale could make regenerative agriculture practical and profitable. “After I first began here, we were doing nitrate-free hot dogs, after which antibiotic-free, after which 100% grass-fed organic, and now the new dog is regenerative,” Asoudegan says.

This last one is a serious shift. Unlike organic certification, which is practice-based (growers can’t use chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, etc.), the regenerative certification awarded by Land to Market requires farmers and ranchers to prove that raising animals on their land is definitely improving soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. “It’s a terrific feedback loop,” Asoudegan says. “When soil is improved, you possibly can raise more food on it.”

In one other first for the corporate, Asoudegan engineered a “collaborative use” partnership with Timberland, which is buying hides from regeneratively raised cattle for a special line of shoes. “These farmers have never gotten paid for that product before,” she says. Along with the Do Good Dog—which sells for $6.99 per six-pack at 1,000-plus Walmart stores and elsewhere—Applegate launched a Do Good Burger in March. As more cattle farms get regenerative-certified, Asoudegan says, they’ll start so as to add chickens and pigs, too.