For great stretches of the United States bison (a.k.a. buffalo) is a historically local meat. Leaner, with less saturated fat and cholesterol, and with more beneficial fatty acids than beef, bison is heralded as a healthy protein source. Bison advocates also like to point out their vital environmental role in maintaining healthy prairies. Find sources for sustainably raised bison (buffalo) below.
Remember, for all its visual similarities to beef, bison is leaner so tends to benefit from high heat... and quick cooking times for the leanest and most tender cuts, and long, slow braising with plenty of added liquid and even a bit of fat for the tougher cuts.
01 of 06
Wild Idea Buffalo in South Dakota takes sustainability extremely seriously and sees the raising of bison as part of restoring environmental balance to the Great Plains. Its bison are free ranging and thus 100% grass-fed on prairie pasture.
Wild Idea Buffalo bison are individually harvested in the field, a method many people believe is vastly more humane than slaughterhouses.
The care taken in the raising and slaughtering of Wild Idea Buffalo bison is carried through in the butchery, packaging, and... shipping of their meats.
02 of 06
North Star Bison is a family-owned ranch and business that grows and sells 100% grass-fed, pastured bison. Like Wild Idea Buffalo, North Star practices a "field-kill" method where the animals are killed in the field—no stressful transport or scary trucks, mazes, or machinery involved. They even own their own processing plant for butchery the animals.
North Star Bison sells bison they raise in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as meat from other Upper Midwestern ranchers who follow their... strict principles of holistic resource management.
03 of 06
Black Forest Bison has been raising all pastured bison just north of Colorado Springs since 2002. No feed lots or grain feeding involved. Along with standard cuts of bison meat, they also sell a variety of bison sausages and jerkys.
04 of 06New Grass Bison Co. bison sources bison from small and medium ranches that raise bison in their native plains environment—mostly in Kansas—where the animals can graze on prairie grasses. Like other pastured bison and cattle, the resulting meat has been found to contain healthier fats and fatty acids that grain-fed and feedlot animals.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
The Buffalo Guys seek to hit a balance between fully grass-fed and free-ranging and a manageable supply by putting their animals destined for slaughter in temporary feedlots where the animals are offered hay and grain. This fattens them up and creates a more consistent product, but does mean the animals are not 100% grass-fed.
They sell a range of cuts, as well as sausages (including hot dogs!).
06 of 06
You can see if there are bison ranches in your neck of the woods at EatBisonMeat.com, where individual bison ranches are listed by state.