Bison – the New Frontier for Sustainable Protein
Ranch raised on Canadian grasslands
The noble bison was once the most iconic and important herbivore of Canada’s great prairies.
Their instinctual grazing habits were foundational to the health of our grasslands, and with that ecosystem now endangered, bison are becoming the new frontier in regenerative ranching. Bison teach us a lot about the land they graze on, setting the standard for best practices in how we raise animals without harm to the environment. With care and consideration, bison herd numbers are increasing, positively impacting the Canadian grasslands and ecosystem.
Many of today’s domestic cattle ranchers, concerned about degraded pasture lands, attempt to replicate with cattle what bison herds once did across North America naturally. Cattle are kept in tight, dense herds and frequently moved (sometimes multiple times a day), just like bison do by instinct.
While these new efforts to manage cattle to ‘graze like bison’ are helping restore domestic cattle rangeland, cows still aren’t nearly as well suited to the job as bison are. There is a good reason why bison are often referred to as nature’s cultivators – it is the role bison evolved to fill.
Eating bison meat for your health
The health of our planet isn’t the only reason bison are considered to be the new frontier for sustainable protein.
Chef and consumer interest in heritage meat like bison that is grass-raised sustainably has started to grow. That’s because bison meat is a healthy choice for consumers looking to optimize the nutrient density of the meat they eat, while reducing their calorie or fat intake. Bison is a lean protein, with fewer calories than beef because it lacks the marbling common in beef cuts.
Meat, especially red meat like beef and bison, and the consumption of animal fats has long been vilified for contributing to heart disease. However, many nutritionists are pushing back on that theory, arguing that replacing whole foods, lean proteins and healthy animal fats with more carbohydrates, grains, processed foods and sugar, has increased heart disease as well as many other diet-related disorders like obesity and diabetes.
“It’s not meat, it’s the meat you eat. Red meat isn’t the culprit, argue nutritionists like Diana Rodgers, in her movie, Sacred Cow. Lean, natural (grass-raised) red meat is a critical component of human nutrition.”Diana Rodgers, RD Nutritionist, Author and Filmmaker
Meanwhile, bison is a very nutrient-dense protein. As a lean wild meat, bison has fewer calories than beef, depending on the cut, and is lower in total and saturated fat. Bison is a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, selenium and vitamins B6 and B12. Bison meat is high in iron and omega-3 fats; studies have shown that grass-raised bison has a healthier omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Bison also has less fat, calories and cholesterol than many other protein sources, including chicken, turkey and lean pork.
Bison aren’t given hormones and rarely antibiotics
More and more, consumers want to know what goes into the food they eat, and for good reason. Meat that comes from animals raised in their natural environment, with minimal intervention and inputs, is not only better for the animal, it’s better for us. Another reason why Noble Premium Bison is becoming the meat to eat.
Bison are never given growth hormones and rarely antibiotics, as domestic cattle often are. Many bison ranchers don’t even need to de-worm their bison herds, or do so rarely. In the domestic beef industry, hormones are often given to cattle to encourage their growth, whereas in Canada, hormone use is not allowed in raising bison.
Bison are a healthy species and rarely need antibiotics. This is partly due to their natural constitution and because they’re raised naturally on open rangeland – not crammed together in a commercial feedlot. At Noble, we don’t use antibiotics except in cases of need where it would be inhumane to not administer them. Animals that do receive antibiotics are moved out of the bison meat program.
From farmers markets to fresh meat counters across Canada
Chefs in Canada and Europe have long touted the taste and nutritional benefits of Canadian grass-raised bison meat, including premium cuts on their menus to their customers delight. However, for consumers, bison meat was once only available directly from bison ranchers, farmers markets or specialty butchers.
Noble Premium Bison has changed all that, offering a range of bison products to consumers at retail across Canada. In 2020 alone, sales of bison meat increased in Canada almost 200%. Bison as a sustainable, healthy protein is making its way into the hands of home chefs and grillmasters from Vancouver to Newfoundland. A new frontier indeed.
Canadian producers/suppliers of sustainable bison meat, ranch-raised on native grassland. No hormones or antibiotics. Retail in 🇨🇦 DM for Foodservice