Bison Meat: Tasty, Versatile, and Good for You, Too
As a parent and a health-conscious consumer, I am always looking for healthy foods that will satisfy my two teenage boys as well as my beef-loving husband. Since he retired, my husband Bill does most of the cooking, and beef--in the form of burgers, steak, meat loaf, roasts, and tacos--has been the most popular meat on the menu.
So, when I found a bison rancher at our local farmer's market who was selling grass-fed, hormone-free bison meat, I was eager to see if bison meat would satisfy my resident beef eaters. As I learned more about bison meat, I realized it would be a healthier alternative to beef that just might taste better, too.
What makes bison meat better for you?
Bison, also known as buffalo, are required by U.S. federal law to be raised without steroids and growth hormones. In addition, bison industry protocols limit the use of antibiotics to protect the health of the animals. Some bison ranchers never use antibiotics, preferring to let nature take its course. Bison are native to North America and have evolved over thousands of years along with the natural landscape. Their digestive systems are perfectly designed to maximize the nutrition in the species of grasses and forage native to North America. Bison are hardy creatures that don't require shelter. Today, they are pasture-raised in herds and small family units. Many bison ranchers supplement grazing only as needed and then only with natural grasses.
Bison meat is considered to be a nutrient dense food because it contains a higher proportion of protein, minerals and fatty acids relative to the number of calories. Compared to other meat sources, bison has more iron and heart-healthy essential fatty acids and less fat. (For a complete nutritional comparison, see BisonBasics Nutritional Comparison Chart.)
But how does it taste?
Bison meat is very lean, yet it is tender and has a slightly sweeter, slightly richer taste than beef. We figured the easiest way to introduce bison meat to our two teenagers would be in the form of a bison burger. Before we cooked it, we read about how to prepare bison meat and learned that, because of its lower fat content, bison meat will cook faster than beef. It is important to cook it "low and slow" so it will retain its natural tenderness. With this in mind, my husband grilled the bison patties that we had purchased from a local grower just as he would a beef patty, but taking care not to cook it too fast or too long.
The result was a tender, slightly sweet, slightly richer burger that everyone in the whole family loved. We all agreed that it was the best burger we'd ever eaten!
Where can I buy bison meat?
Due to its growing popularity bison meat can now be found in most major grocery stores. Local growers can often be found at farmer's markets, and many of them sell directly from their ranches. The cost of bison meat varies depending upon the area and availability, but major grocers often have it on sale. In addition, it can be purchased in bulk packages at a reduced cost directly from a local rancher or online.
Bison meat comes in as many forms as beef, including tenderloins, steaks, brisket, roasts, and short ribs, and can be cooked just like beef, as long as you remember to cook it "low and slow."
[Edited to add: Since writing this article an E. coli outbreak has been attributed to bison processed by Rocky Mountain Natural Meat. Even though the word "natural" is in their name, they have been selling feedlot bison meat to consumers. So, if you buy your bison meat from a major grocery chain, it would be wise to check where the meat comes from and how it is processed. A safer alternative would be to find a local grower that sells grass-fed bison.]
Other articles by PrettyPanther
- Bison Recipes: Bison Meat Loaf - Healthy Comfort Food
Many Americans fondly remember their Mom's meat loaf -- a tasty mixture of ground beef, bread or crackers,...
- Champagne: Recipes, Health Benefits, and a Brief History
A short description of some health benefits of champagne, a brief history of champagne, and a few easy champagne recipes that are also good for you.
- Healthy Ways to Thicken Soup
Soup is one of those foods that everyone likes--it can be creamy or thin, smooth or chunky, sweet or savory. It can be hearty and filling for lunch on a cold, winter day or it can be...
- Organic, Fair Trade Chocolate -- Buy it Online
Buy organic, fair trade chocolate online. It's a smooth, sweet, and sinful, a delectable indulgence; and when you buy organic, free trade chocolate you can enjoy your chocolate guilt-free.
- How I Conquered Fibromyalgia Without Prescription Drugs
Five simple remedies used to cure fibromyalgia. Includes specific natural remedies such as valerian, siberian ginseng, St. John's wort, meditation, and nutrition.