Try Bison Meat for Great Taste and Better Health

More flavorful than chicken and more nutritious than grain-fed beef, bison meat is lean and green.

| December 2011/January 2012

  • American Bison
    American bison at the Grand Teton Mountains.
  • winter-bison
    Bison with ear tags in winter.
  • Buffalo Rump Roast
    Lean piece of buffalo rump roast prepared to be grilled or roasted. This lean meat is very healthy and acceptable to those watching their weight.
  • bison-ranch
    Bison ranching has been increasing in popularity.

  • American Bison
  • winter-bison
  • Buffalo Rump Roast
  • bison-ranch

A couple of years ago, while I was traveling through Pueblo, Colo., a friend invited me to join his family for a home-cooked meal. His wife rustled up a stir-fry of sorts, with thin strips of meat as the centerpiece, and they watched curiously as I dug in.

The meat was chewy and richly flavorful, with a black-pepper rub. But it clearly wasn’t beef. It was bison, they informed me. I’d eaten bison burgers before, and they were quite good. The stir-fry was a memorable meal. The bison meat had a richer taste than beef, with a hint of sweetness.

Grass-fed bison has less than a quarter of the total fats of grain-fed beef — and less fat even than grass-fed beef — with slightly more fat than skinless industrial chicken breast. Bison can also have as much as four times the level of omega-3 “good fats” as industrial beef.

These days, you can find bison meat almost anywhere. Try checking the meat and freezer sections of your local supermarket or a well-stocked health food store. Bison has become a staple at a wide range of restaurants, from the eco-minded Backwoods Cafe overlooking Mount St. Helens in Washington to the much-praised Graham Elliot restaurant in Chicago, where chef Brian Runge says bison still has exotic appeal for food adventurers.

Bison History

Few foods are more indigenous to America than bison is. Early settlers referred to the animal as buffalo because French fur trappers called the animals boeuf, which means “ox” or “bullock,” and which sounds much like “buff.” Yet bison are not related to true buffalos such as the African water buffalo, and are instead closely related to domestic cows and European bison (also known as wisents). Still, the name buffalo stuck, and most people use bison and buffalo interchangeably.

For a time, it looked as if bison would go extinct. Before Europeans began moving westward onto the Great Plains, the bison was the dominant grazing mammal, numbering in the tens of millions and ranging from present-day northern Mexico into Canada. They were a staple of existence for Native American tribes of the Great Plains, but by the late 1800s the settlers had slaughtered the buffalo to near-extinction — down to only about 700 animals.

6/9/2018 7:09:31 AM

Bison History, where they came from and where they are today.

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