By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
If you have eaten bison recently, you probably think it tastes just like conventional beef. That is because 95% of the bison sold in the U.S. has been fed the same horrid corn-soy diet that is given to factory beef. But real bison, grassfed bison, tastes nothing like that.
Real bison has a mild, distinct, slightly sweet taste of its own. A primal flavor, that is unique and wonderful. A fresh, compelling taste that tells your body to keep eating, something incredibly nourishing and satisfying is happening. Eating real bison makes me very happy, on many levels. And the feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment I experience when I have eaten enough real bison is something special. There is something in real bison that refreshes, renews, revitalizes, and satisfies. I do not know what it is, but it is definitely there, but only in real bison eating its natural diet of grass and meadow plants.
One of the very few places you can get bison of this quality is Northstar Bison, a ranch where they raise wild bison with no artificial feed. How do they raise something that is wild? Well, the bison mostly raise themselves.
The ranchers only manage the grazing, using techniques that renew and enrich the land, following the patterns established by the bison themselves.
How the Great Plains Became Great Soil
Nature has developed its own way of creating great soil. A prime example is the Great Plains of the United States of America, which were some of the richest land on Earth.
Once, the Great Plains were roamed by huge herds of bison. The number of bison has been estimated at over sixty million. These bison roamed the plains in immense herds. Witnesses to these herds in the nineteenth century wrote that it took days for these herds to pass a particular spot. These herds would literally break up the land they grazed on with their hooves, eating the older growth, trampling the seeds deep into the earth, and enriching the soil with their manure. This enabled microorganisms in the soil to thrive, to fill the earth with life. Because the bison herds were so concentrated, they literally changed the land they grazed on. This was nature’s way of harvesting, plowing, fertilizing, and planting the earth.
The bison would then move on, allowing the land to rest for months before they returned. The land would use this time to grow rich new grass, in soil that was even more fertile than it had been. The roots set down by the grasses would hold moisture in the soil, helping the growth of the microorganisms that filled the soil with life and nutrients. Then the bison would return, to thrive on the rich new grass and start the whole cycle over again.
Northstar Bison Renews the Soil
Northstar Bison was founded by Lee and Mary Graese, on the site of an old dairy farm. Lee Graese had been fascinated by bison since he was a small boy, and always wanted to have some. The ranch is a fulfillment of his dream. The Graeses are devoted to raising real bison, in the most natural way possible. They have studied natural grazing practices, and put them into effect on their ranch. The method used is called intensive grazing and rest, and follows nature’s ways. The bison are concentrated in a particular pasture, and then moved to a new pasture when the time is right. Just like their ancestors, they enrich the land they graze on. Once the bison have left the pasture, the land is allowed to rest, renewing itself with the resources contributed by the bison. The new grass is allowed to grow. When the bison return, the grass is richer than ever.
This method of ranching enriches and restores the soil, rather than depleting it.
How the Bison Raise Themselves
The bison eat grass and meadow plants, selecting their own feed from what grows in the pasture. They can do this even in winter. The bison are able to smell grass under two feet of snow, and they actually dig through the snow to reach the grass. There is only one time when the bison are given supplementary feed, which consists of sun-dried hay from the ranch. When there is a thaw in the winter, the snow can melt. When the weather gets down to freezing again, ice forms that can make it difficult for the bison to reach the grass. The sun-dried hay is made available to the bison at these times.
The ranch is home to various predators, including bears, coyotes, and wolves. The bison are so good at protecting themselves and their young that the Graeses have never lost a calf to a predator.
The bison are healthy, robust animals that rarely, if ever get ill. Sometimes they do get injured when they fight among themselves. When they are sick or injured, they have a way of hiding their weakness so a predator will not target them.
The bison deliver their own young without aid. These healthy, unmodified animals do not need human help to reproduce or give birth.
In fact, the main way the Graeses manage their herd is to move them to new pastures. For bison, the grass is truly greener on the other side of the fence. The bison know when it is time to move to new pasture, and it is routine for them to gather at the gate when they want the Graeses to open it.
The Field Kill Method Is Merciful and Results in Sweet, Flavorful Meat
The Graeses use the field kill method. Every hunter knows that the meat of an animal which is killed by surprise will taste much better than the meat of an animal which is chased. This is because adrenalin and other hormones are released into the bloodstream when an animal gets scared or angry. These hormones give a very gamy, bitter taste to the meat. Since the dawn of time, hunters have always tried to kill the animal instantly, by surprise, to avoid the meat being ruined by these stress hormones. Another benefit is that an animal killed this way does not suffer.
The field kill method consists of shooting the animal from behind, without warning. A steel-jacketed bullet is shot into the bison’s head just behind the ear, which results in immediate death, without suffering. Because there is no suffering, none of the stress hormones are released into the meat, which remains sweet and is not even slightly gamy.
Since a steel-jacketed bullet is used, there are no lead fragments in the animal from the shooting.
The Blessings of Wild Bison
The meat sold by Northstar Bison is as real and natural as meat can get. No added hormones. No antibiotics. No feedlots. No species-inappropriate feed. No chemicals.
What you get is meat that is the equivalent of wild game, with all the natural nutrients. This meat is particularly rich in nutrients because the animals graze on grass growing in rich soil, soil which is full of minerals and other nutrients. Bison is naturally lean, but the fat is full of omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, and other beneficial nutrients.
There is also what I call the “y factor.” There is something in grassfed bison that makes me feel better and satisfied. I do not know what it is, but nothing else has it. My hunger is also satisfied with a smaller amount of bison meat. It is so dense with nutrients that my body is satisfied with less. When you are satisfied, the desire to eat is over.
Grassfed bison must be cooked properly, or it will be tough and not taste good. Tender Grassfed Meat has many bison recipes that result in delicious bison.
Buying Great Bison
I am very grateful that the Graeses have made their terrific meat available over the Internet. I have been a happy customer for many years.
Northstar Bison also owns the facility where their meat is processed. This means that they can easily custom cut your meat. It is important that you know what you want and describe it in detail, but they can get it for you. I have taken full advantage of this flexibility to order cuts that are not on their regular price list. This is a great way to get really thick steaks and bone-in roasts. The regular selection of cuts at their online store is huge, but you can ask them to custom cut additional selections. One of my favorite custom orders is bison suet, which you can order separately, and is actually a very popular item.
Wild bison meat, from animals that have been fed only grass and hay, is one of the tastiest and best meats you can eat. My thanks to the Graeses for making this healthy and delicious meat available.
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