It’s more local than we are.
There are few foods available to us in this modern day that are indigenous to America. Bison is one of them. Even cows were imported from Europe. If you are a localvore, than you know what this means. Foods that are indigenous to your origins are better assimilated by the body and the nutrients therefore are more readily absorbed and utilized. For example, some one from the Philippines is going to thrive on coconut because coconuts are indigenous to the Philippines. While I like coconut, eating great quantities of it all of the time is not going to do me as many favors as eating blueberries, which are domestic to my environment and the environment of my ancestors.
It’s nutritionally Superior
Bison is raised on grass (the diet nature intended it to have unlike the corn based diet of factory farmed cattle). It has more omega-3 fatty acids than animals raised on grain. It also has fewer calories and more iron than any other common dinner animal. It’s lower in cholesterol than chicken. It is much leaner than beef and also has more protein too. Less fat and the higher concentration of minerals of bison makes it easier to digest. So far we have a win-win.
It can’t be factory farmed
Bison is not domesticated and is handled as little as possible. This is one of the primary reasons it is raised on grass. This also means that they are never treated with hormones or antibiotics. The circle of life between the bison and the grass is an intimate one, kept as much to the real thing as possible by ranchers to ensure the integrity of the product that comes to our dinner tables. This makes raising and the purchasing of bison a very eco-friendly investment.
How is it eco-friendly? The National Bison Association says that unlike raising beef and chicken, raising bison is one of the best ways to maintain our north American grasslands. Heavy grazers like bison have a symbiotic relationship with the grasslands, imperative to how both thrive. Their grazing allows new grass to grow, their manure fertilizes the grass with nutrients the bison will need, use, and share again. Because bison is raised as naturally as possible they facilitate a lot less waste, unlike battery raised chickens and factory farmed beef.
The fact that bison is not beef alone is good enough reason to eat it. The great amount of fat in beef slows digestion, and one has to look long and hard to find grass fed beef that is hormone/antibiotic free that can still taste good after you spend a small fortune on it. You are solving all of these problems when choosing bison but you are also getting the pluses mentioned earlier. It’s not gamy like some might expect. I use it everywhere I would otherwise be using beef. When I serve it to friends and family they never know it’s not beef until I tell them so. The only thing you need to be mindful of is it drying out due to its leanness. Its high iron content keeps it bright red even when cooked past medium. A novice bison fan can be easily duped by this and overcook it.
I like to suggest to clients to start out with ground bison to introduce family members to it. Buying ground bison is going to be cheaper than the steaks and more versatile as well. Hamburgers, meatballs, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, etc are all excellent ways to become acquainted with it before moving onto steaks and roasts. You can also make your dollar go even further and consider investing in a quarter or half a bison at a time. Several cuts and lots of it makes for great discovery and experimentation. There are bison ranchers in just about every state and according to a recent article in Mother Earth News the demand is greater than ever.
For more information on where you can find bison in your area check out eatwild.com and look up by state.
Olive oil for pan
½ yellow or white onion
1 stalk celery
2-3 cloves of garlic
¾ cup organic oats
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp red pepper
1 tsp tyme
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 organic egg
1lb of ground bison
1 cup organic ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ -1 tsp Sriracha sauce (optional)
1 tsp horseradish sauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 375⁰ and oil and 8 inch loaf pan.
Combine all ingredients for the sauce (except the horseradish) into a bowl and set aside.
Chop carrot, onion and celery into 2 inch pieces and add to a food processor. Pulse 5-7 times until finely chopped. Add egg, oats, spices until well incorporated and then bison until well combined. Press into loaf pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and add half of the sauce over the top of the loaf. Return to oven for another 30 minutes or until center reads 150⁰ with a thermometer. Add the horseradish to the sauce. Remove meatloaf from oven and add remaining sauce over the top or serve on the side.