You won't find anything related to "pastures" or "grazing" at Green Pasture Products. You'll find something much different. "We make healthy fats," Quality Control Assistant Manager Kirsa Sommersted said. She says those healthy fats are a key to good health.
Claire Rizzio tells us her father David Wetzel, and mother Barbara, started the business after a move to Nebraska. "My dad actually began in the steel industry. He did sales, and we moved to Nebraska as a family in 2000," Rizzio said. "Initially we started as a dairy farm." The late Nebraska extension agent Terry Gompert encouraged the family to get into dairy farming. In 2005, David Wetzel got interested in the work of Canadian dentist Weston A. Price, who was known for his work on the connection between dental health and nutrition. "Price came up with what's called "Activator X", which we call "X factor", and that's found in the butter oil," Sommersted said. "People find it to be very beneficial for helping re-mineralize your teeth. It's beneficial for oral health."
It wasn't long before the business Green Pasture Products was born, and the company was producing that butter oil, along with fermented cod liver oil. "When we say fermented, we just mean it's the extraction process we use," Sommersted said. "It's a very natural extraction process that leaves all of the natural nutrients and vitamins in there, so all of the vitamin A and vitamin D, it's in there for the right ratio to use." The quality control manager at Green Pasture says people seek out the fermented cod liver oil and butter oil products because of the perceived health benefits. "There are a lot of people that think fat is really bad for you, but there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats," Sommersted said. "If you leave them in their natural state, our bodies are literally meant to use them like that."
It turns out this business in Holt County, on a side street in O'Neill, now has a world-wide reach. "We have a distributor in Holland, a distributor in Canada, and Australia," Sommersted said. And the packaging facility is always busy. The owner's daughter says it's exciting to see this large scale operation in a small town. "There's a ton of benefits that being here brings to our company," Rizzio said.
The company also appreciates the partnerships they've enjoyed with UNL to get the business going. "The late Terry Gompert, he was an extension agent. He was very influential," Rizzio said. "But then the University of Nebraska Lincoln has given us partnerships with the dairy science department, and the food science department." All of those partnerships, along with the work ethic of employees in O'Neill and a founder interested in creating a healthy product, has resulted in yet another unique business to be found in rural Nebraska.