"Has the animal, at any time during it's life, received corn or grain?"
Because grassfed and pastured labeling laws continue to be unclear, this is the question to ask when buying grassfed meat. This applies specifically to animals such as bison with rumens (multi-chambered stomachs), designed to digest grass. See #4 below.
1. What is Bison?
Bison bison is their true biological name, though they are also known as the American Buffalo. Bison are the largest land mammal since the end of the Ice Age. When our ancestors first settled here, its estimated there were as many as 70 million on the continent. Early pioneer diaries refer to it taking days for a single herd to pass through an area. Bison are native to North America, including California.
2. Is bison the same as buffalo?
It should be. When America's pioneers saw bison for the very first time, they had no name for it. Because it looked similar to a European animal called "buffalo", that's the original term that stuck. For years the word "buffalo has been used interchangeablly with the species name, "bison bison".
But when it comes to food labeling, it's another story.
As it turns out, labeling laws are so loose in our country, if we were to label our meat "buffalo" we could be selling water buffalo, cape buffalo or North American buffalo. Even if it were North American buffalo, we legally can add up to 49% beef to the ground meat product, still call it buffalo, and not tell you.
It's all perfectly legal.
Because of this, Lindner Bison from the beginning decided to label our meat by the species name (bison bison). That way, our customers will never have to wonder what they are actually getting from us.
3. Arent Bison an endangered species?
No. There were about 1500 at the turn of the century. Today there is over 500,000 in North America with an annual growth rate of around 25%.
4. What does Bison meat look like?
a. Grassfed and grass-finished. Bison which is grassfed and grass-finished will have a rich, dark red color, with little if any marbling. For the small amount of fat, the color of that fat should be creamy rather than white. This creamy color indicates the presence of betacarotine from the grass, a natural antioxidant and cancer fighter.
b. Grain-fed. Bison which has been fed grain may be a dark red color, but more often its a bright red color, similar to feedlot beef. The true test is again in fat color. Feedlot or grainfed bison will have more fat and it will be white. Grain feeding is unnatural to a ruminant and healthful nutrients such as betacarotine are washed out. NOTE: Some commercial processors may also treat the meat with a O2/CO2mix to create a bright red meat color which they believe consumers want and expect.
5. What does Bison taste like?
Bison tastes great! Many say bison tastes similar to beef, with perhaps a slightly sweeter or fuller flavor. Other people say they cant tell the difference.
6. What's the nutritional difference between Bison and beef?
Though they taste similar, nutritionally, its another story. Studies show that Bison has about 25% more protein, less fat and cholesterol (especially when grassfed & grass-finished), and more iron than beef. Bison has even less fat and cholesterol than turkey. Bison has been recommended by the American Heart Association and Weight Watchers, to name a few. Please see pamphlet for more nutritional information.
7. How cost effective is grassfed Bison?
Grassfed bison is very cost effective! At first glance, Bison may appear to cost more than beef, but for a true cost/value comparison, its important to consider these facts:
a. Quality and Quantity. Bison is more nutritionally dense, so it takes less to satisfy an appetite.
b. Less Shrinkage. Because Bison has less fat, there is less shrinkage during cooking and certainly none of the traditional flareups on the grill from fattier meat.
c. Less cooking time means less gas or electrical energy consumption.
d. Supply & Demand. The Bison population is small compared to cattle: Over 500,000 Bison are in North America, compared with an estimated 150,000 beef slaughtered daily. As the Bison supply continues to grow with consumer demand, the cost of grassfed, grass-finished Bison will decrease.
8. How do I cook Bison?
Bison can be substituted in almost any beef recipe. Because of its natural leanness, Bison will cook faster than meat with more fat. This is because fat acts as an insulator, slowing down the cooking process. Most customers make this transition quickly & easily. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest Sear on high, then low and slow. Reminder: the only thing that can be done wrong with Bison (or any lean meat) is to overcook it, causing the meat to become dry and chewy. Follow cooking directions & ENJOY!
9. Where can I purchase Bison?
Bison can be found in health food stores and in some parts of the country, may be purchased in Safeway, Fred Meyers, Krogers and even WalMart. Unless the labels state otherwise, this meat is usually grain or feedlot finished. (See Grassfed FAQs about the difference between grassfed & grass-finished meat and grainfed, feedlot/feedyard-finished meat.) True grassfed and grass-finished Bison meat may be purchased directly from Bison rancher/producers who sell from their ranch, at Farmers Markets and via the internet.
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