By Stanley A. Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat
If you have tasted bison lately, the meat almost certainly tasted like conventional beef. Most bison ranchers feed their herds the same soy and corn diet that factory cattle are fed. No wonder they taste the same.
But the bison raised by Lee and Mary Graese of Northstar Bison tastes nothing like that. The Graeses raise their bison on grass alone. Or rather, the bison raise themselves on grass. The meat of this truly natural bison has its own unique taste, slightly sweet, deep, pleasing, and satisfying. This meat is so dense in nutrients that only a small amount is needed to satisfy an appetite.
The Graeses use a high-density rotational grazing system that is based on the way the old bison herds roamed the Great Plains, which actually renews and enriches the soil and the grass.
This is sustainable agriculture at its best, where the laws of nature are followed, the soil is renewed, and the meat has all the best nutritional qualities of wild game, with a unique and wonderful taste of its own. I nominate Lee and Mary Graese for the Heroes of Sustainable Agriculture award given out by this website.
How the Bison Raise Themselves
It is natural for bison to eat grass and meadow plants. Before the bison were almost wiped out in the nineteenth century, they roamed the Great Plains in densely packed herds. The Graeses recreate this situation by fencing off the section of pasture the bison are grazing on, so they are in a close herd like their ancestors. While the bison graze, they also fertilize the soil with their manure. The bison know when it is time to move on, and communicate this to the ranchers by clustering around the gate of the fence.
They are then moved to fresh pasture, while the land they grazed and enriched is allowed to recover.
The bison graze even when the ground is covered in snow. They can smell grass several feet deep, and use their hooves to dig through the snow until they reach the grass.
The bison work together as a herd to protect themselves from predators such as wolves, bears, and coyotes. They are so effective that the Graeses have never lost a calf to predators.
The bison deliver their own young, without human intervention.
The bison are hardy, powerful animals that rarely get sick.
Grassfed Bison Meat Is Delicious and Tender
Any experienced hunter knows that the meat of a wild animal will be at its best if the animal is killed by surprise, instantly. An animal that is wounded or chased will release chemicals into the body that give the meat a bitter, gamy taste. The Graeses use the field kill method, where the bison are killed instantly, by surprise, by being shot in the head from behind. This leaves the meat sweet and tender. This also avoids any suffering by the animal.
Because of their humane animal husbandry, The Graseses I am pleased to announce they are hereby recognized as Hartke is Online! Heroes of Sustainable Agriculture.
Grassfed bison is very lean, and must be cooked differently than conventional meat. My cookbook, Tender Grassfed Meat, contains detailed instructions for cooking grassfed bison and a number of recipes. Here is a simple and delicious recipe, based on the flavors used by the Native Americans, as an example of how to cook this wonderful meat. See my related post, Bison Steak and Blueberry Marinade.
To find grassfed meat, see the Hartke is Online.com Resources page.