What’s for dinner for those of us looking to lessen our environmental impact, eat more healthfully, and still include some red meat in our diets? Bison! Find out why here
What’s for dinner for those of us looking to lessen our environmental impact, eat more healthfully, and still include some red meat in our diets? Buffalo or bison – first off, what’s the difference? Nothing really, bison actually refers more specifically to American bison which is used interchangeably with American buffalo.
Despite its shaggy, hulky looks and classification as the largest terrestrial animal in North America and Europe, (weighing in at over 3,000 pounds) its meat is lean and highly nutritious. Bison has less fat and cholesterol and fewer calories for the same weight of beef, pork or chicken, is high in protein and good fats and has a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Consumption of bison has skyrocketed in the past several years. Nationally, sales of bison have doubled since 2005, according to the National Bison Association. And meat prices have soared - up about 28 percent in 2010 for an average rib eye steak, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. The demand for bison can be attributed to its health profile, locality, and the sustainable nature of this meat.
Do keep in mind that consumption of bison is minuscule compared with beef, chicken, or pork. The average American ate about 65 pounds of beef in 2010 but not even a quarter pound of bison, according to the National Bison Association. Similarly, only about 90,000 buffalo were used for their meat in 2009, compared with more than 125,000 cattle on an average day.
Remember that as with beef, whether the bison was free-range grass-fed or conventionally raised on a feed lot also makes a big difference in its nutritional value. Grass-fed bison, like grass-fed beef, is leaner and has more beneficial fats (omega-3s) and makes up the majority of the product on supermarket shelves. That being said reading labels and speaking to the butcher in your supermarket is a must.
As a natural part of the North American ecosystem, bison ranching is beneficial to the natural environment. But as consumption continues to grow, you as the consumer are truly the one who chooses the future of their feeding practices by voting at the check out.
Bison’s flavor is comparable to beef, but is slightly sweeter and can be a little drier because it has less fat. To keep it moist, cook with a drizzle of olive oil.