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Bison is the Best Meat to Eat and Save the Planet
Eating bison meat regenerates a healthy planet, restoring Canada’s Great Plains and ensuring bison’s survival
The noble bison was once the most iconic and important herbivore of Canada’s great prairies.
The instinctual grazing habits of the 10 million bison that free-roamed the North American continent were foundational to the formation of our prairies, one of the planet’s original carbon sinks. When bison (also known as buffalo) were slaughtered to the brink of extinction and the prairies they roamed were plowed under for row-crop farming, the diverse Canadian prairie ecosystem that once supported countless species and a healthy planet was destroyed.
Now, however, we know better. Restoring thriving prairie lands are critical to the planet, our environment and protecting and enhancing ecological species diversity. Thriving grasslands also create a livable planet for humans by sequestering carbon and reducing the impacts of climate change.
But to regenerate grasslands, we need bison.
By choosing to eat bison meat, Canadian consumers are supporting the regeneration of degraded landscapes, rebuilding topsoil, restoring watersheds and threatened species and ensuring bison thrive, too.
Noble Bison Factoid
Buffalo or bison, what’s the difference?
Buffalo and bison are both commonly used to refer to the animals we raise at Noble Premium Bison.
But, technically, they are bison — not buffalo.
Buffalo are a distinct species native to Asia (the water buffalo) and Africa (the cape buffalo) with wide ‘handle-bar’ horns, smaller heads and humps. They also lack the shaggy coats distinctive to what we think of as “American Buffalo.”
Bison, on the other hand, evolved here.
So why were they called buffalo? Early European settlers had never seen actual buffalo and “Bison Bill Cody” just doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as “Buffalo Bill Cody,” does it?
Although we like to stick with the correct terminology here at Noble Premium Bison, we won’t hold it against you if you call them ‘buffalo.’
When Bison No Longer Roamed the Prairies
More than 70 percent of Canadian prairies have been degraded since bison were nearly exterminated by the early 19th century.
Once a vast terroir of grasses, sedges and forbs (flowers), consisting of tall grass, short grass and fescue-based prairie habitats, the prairie provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta supported countless insects, birds and small and large herbivores and carnivores.
Many native grassland species are severely threatened — the Peregrine Falcon, the Mountain Plover, the Eskimo Curlew, the Piping Plover, the Burrowing Owl and the Whooping Crane. Others have been lost entirely — the Plains Grizzly, the Swift Fox, the Black-footed Ferret and the Greater Prairie Chicken.
We nearly lost bison, too.
Bison’s Ancient Arrival
Bison’s ancestors originated in Asia. They once grazed alongside woolly mammoths and were predated by sabre-tooth tigers.
The first ancestors of the modern-day bison — the steppe bison — were about the same size as modern-day bison but with much larger horns. A northern Canadian population of steppe bison existed until just 400 years ago.
Noble Bison Factoid
The Famous “Blue Babe”
At one time so many steppe bison lived in the Yukon area that over 80 percent of the fossil mammal bones from Klondike gold mines are from steppe bison.
One of the most famous is “Blue Babe,” a 36,000-year-old mummified bison carcass found in a Fairbanks, Alaska gold mine. The Blue Babe’s skin is covered in the mineral vivianite, hence her spectacular colour.
Blue Babe also sports deep claw marks on her side, scars from an extinct Beringian lion attack, and perhaps led to her demise — a tough girl indeed.
Our modern-day bison are not much different.
Two Types of Bison Native to Canada
The steppe bison evolved into two subspecies — the plains bison, Bison bison bison, and the wood bison, Bison bison athabascae.
The sub-species look similar at first glance—large, shaggy, hump-backed beasts sporting dark black, curved horns.
The plains bison evolved on the Great Plains, stretching from Alberta and Saskatechewan, through Wyoming, Montana and all the way south to Mexico. They have massive heads with short noses and clearly defined shaggy capes.
Wood bison had a much smaller population and evolved further north, roughly following the northern portions of Rocky Mountain range. They only existed in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, northern British Columbia, northern Alberta and a few herds in Manitoba, north of Winnipeg. They preferred boreal forests and aspen forests. Woods bison are the larger of the two subspecies, longer-legged with more triangular heads and less defined shoulder capes. They have distinctive shoulder humps and are better adapted to deep snow conditions.
When bison conservation began, efforts focused on keeping genetically pure herds of bison. However, because of how few bison were left, the genetic pool was limited.
As preserved herds in bison sanctuaries rebounded, excess animals were sold off to ranchers. The eventual cross-breeding of plains and woods bison genetics on private ranches would help bison ranchers create a foundation of healthy, genetically diverse commercial bison herds while still preserving the critical genetics of the purebred herds in publicly-owned preserves.
Noble Bison Factoid
Breeding Our Bison for Diversity – No Beefalo Allowed!
When the decimation of the bison herds finally stopped, concerns over a genetic “bottleneck” prompted some early bison conservationists to breed bison to cattle — beefalo.
However, the beefalo experiment was a failure. Progeny was typically sterile and beef genetics are almost non-existent in Canada’s bison herds.
Noble’s bison herd, managed and raised by 3rd-generation rancher and partner Doug Griller, consists of multiple breeding lines that include genetics from both the woods and plains bison subspecies, carefully selected to thrive on Doug’s Saskatchewan ranches.
Bison Were Important to Aboriginal Canadians
Bison were an important source of meat and clothing for Aboriginal Canadians (First Peoples). Their hides were used by aboriginals to make clothing such as hats, coats, blankets, leggings and gloves.
Plains bison were a primary food source for many aboriginal including the Plains Cree and Plains Metis. Wood bison was eaten less often, but was still a significant food source for Western Woods Cree. They hunted bison in the midwinter, when fur was in prime condition.
First Nations and Aboriginal Canadians (including Metis and Cree) would hunt bison using many strategies. Large herds of bison were lured into a ravine by a hunter dressed in buffalo robes and killed with spears. Or, runners would lead the herd to a cliff while others waved and forced them over the edge.
What Happened to Our Prairies after Bison were Decimated
The decimation of the great bison herds was a story of westward expansion, zealous overhunting and European settlers’ relentless quest to dominate the continent.
Upwards of 60 million bison (an approximate 10 million in Canada) were estimated to exist in North America before the 1600s. By 1884 less than 500 bison were thought to remain in all of North America. Virtually no plains bison survived in Canada. The wood bison was practically eliminated between cross-breeding with plains bison, until a small, genetically pure herd was discovered and relocated to Elk Island Provincial Park.
With the wood and plains bison populations gone for all practical purposes, early settlers began establishing homesteads and farms. The plows soon followed. Native prairie, a carbon sink thousands of years old, was ripped up and planted to crops, or overgrazed by herds of cattle, to the point of degradation. Topsoil was lost and soil organic matter was destroyed, leading to soil compaction, acidification and the destruction of clean, natural watersheds.
The harm done to the prairies jeopardized their carbon-sequestering potential. Now, restoring natural carbon sinks like the Great Plains is seen as a critical solution to stopping — and maybe even reversing — climate change.
The Amazing Recovery Story of Bison
Saving the bison species is arguably the most extraordinary conservation effort success story of our times.
In the late 1800s, recognizing bison had been nearly extirpated and were on the brink of extinction, the Canadian government and U.S. government created legislation to protect the last remaining herds. Slowly but surely, bison populations began rebounding with small herds kept in private ranches and on designated preserves such as Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. and Elk Island Provincial Park and Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, home to around 3000 wood bison.
Along the path to bison conservation, mistakes were made as conservationists learned how to manage bison. The famous Wainwright Buffalo Park (Buffalo National Park), was one of several initial ‘regeneration’ parks created to re-establish large bison herds. The park was started with 700 bison purchased from Montana and transported by train.
Eventually however, the herd grew so large competing for limited park resources, that disease and starvation spread. The Wainwright herd was broken up and bison were sent to other bison sanctuaries where they could be maintained in better health and the Wainwright Buffalo Park was closed in 1940.
By the early 1980s, public bison sanctuaries were healthy and well established. Bison populations had recovered enough that extra animals were sold off to ranchers to not overpopulate the preserves. In 2013, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) pointed to bison conservation efforts as an example of success in species preservation although preservation efforts of wild herds need to be maintained. The wood bison is listed as “Special Concern” and the plains bison as “Threatened” under the COSEWIC.
Simultaneously, chef and consumer interest in heritage meat like bison that is grass-raised sustainably started to grow. Not surprisingly, the private, for-profit bison ranching industry began to gain momentum and the Canadian Bison Association was formed in 1982.
Now, there are nearly 1000 bison producers and close to 150,000 bison in Canada (and 500,000 bison in all of North America).
The Importance of Grasslands and Bison’s Role in Sequestering Carbon
Grasslands are second only to Earth’s oceans in their ability to sequester carbon and draw down the harmful greenhouse gases emitted from burning fossil fuels that are warming our planet. The massive root systems of grasses and sedges in native prairie habitats sequester carbon, prevent erosion and drought and encourage biological diversity.
The International Panel on Climate Change has said the world must reach net-zero yearly CO2 emissions by 2030 to keep the Earth from warming even further than it already has and triggering cataclysmic climate change effects. Slowing down CO2 emissions and finding ways to draw down greenhouse gases through natural carbon sinks — like grasslands — is imperative.
In Canada, restoring degraded grazing lands could sequester up to three million tons of atmospheric CO2 a year, according to a report on soil carbon sequestration by the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Society. Canada is the 10th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and cities like Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver — where 80% of Canadians live — are expected to feel the brunt of climate change.
Coastal city dwellers in places like Vancouver will face rising sea levels, severe flooding, droughts and potentially deadly heat waves are predicted to become more common in cities like Toronto. Ottawa is predicted to rise in temperature by 1.8 degrees celsius over the next decade, with a subsequent increase in flooding and more extreme weather events.
But restoring a destroyed grassland’s carbon sink isn’t an easy task when people, in cities and out of them, still need to eat. That’s why bison are so important.
Bison are the Keystone Species of the Great Canadian Prairies
It was only recently that bison were recognized as a ‘keystone species,’ an organism that holds a system together, vital to creating healthy grasslands. Without its keystone species, ecosystems look very different.
Bison herds constantly move as they graze. They consume native grasses, skipping over forbs (flowers) in preference for grass species. This gives flowering plants the ability to compete better against more aggressive grass species, encourages a more diverse plant life, and creates habitat for butterflies, bees, and other insects that depend on pollen.
But that isn’t all. Bison defecate as they graze, depositing a natural form of nitrogen fertilizer — bison dung. Bison herds were once so numerous and left so many dung piles behind that early pioneers gathered the dried-out “buffalo chips” and burned them for fuel.
Noble Bison Factoid
Dung Beetles Love Bison Poop!
A single bison produces about 10 to 12 quarts of dung a day and is a dung beetles’ preferred food.
There are several dung beetle species, but one of the most critical types gathers up small balls of bison dung and tunnels those balls a meter deep under the soil. This has two effects — it aerates the ground, creating natural places for water to percolate deep underground nourishing plant roots. And the mineral-rich excrement deposits provide vital nutrients for plant growth.
When bison left the wild plains, dung beetles were deprived of their favourite food source and soil and plants were left bereft of the benefits of dung beetle’s industrious, bison-poo-inspired behaviour. But add bison, and like magic, dung beetles come back!
Across Noble Premium Bison’s 9000-acre ranch, we enthusiastically inspect our bison dung for evidence of dung beetles at work. We are thrilled to report that the dung beetles are back and thriving, working from dung pile to dung pile.
Bison Stomp their Way to Better Soil Health
As the bison’s large herds moved through their territory, they stomped and trampled down tall grasses, crushing the leaves to the ground where they shaded the soil, composted, and broke down into nutrient-rich hummus.
This natural nutrient cycle fed the microbiome soil population of microscopic insects, fungi and bacteria that make up healthy soil. Eventually, the bison herds returned and grazed the same area again, repeating the process.
It is a natural, regenerative cycle of growth, death and rebirth. The worms, dung beetles and soil microbiome feast on the bison manure and rotting grasses encouraging plant roots to reach deep and, ultimately, deposit carbon into the soil.
Noble Bison Factoid
How Healthy Soil + Bison Sequesters Carbon
So how does healthy soil sequester carbon? It’s all part of the natural photosynthesis process most of us learned about in school.
Plants breathe in CO2. Then they release oxygen into the air and store CO2 in their leaves. Some CO2 also goes down into their roots, where it is held in place. As long as healthy soil structures are maintained, the carbon stays in the soil — aka sequestered.
The healthier and more diverse the plant life is, the more roots grow and the more organic matter — carbon — is deposited. It’s a win-win-WIN cycle.
That’s why bison are so crucial to carbon sequestration. They naturally encourage healthy plants, roots and soil.
Bison Inspired the Regenerative Grazing Movement
Now that farmers, ranchers and scientists recognize the restorative power of the natural carbon cycle in soil and bison’s contribution, they’re trying to replicate it — even when they don’t have bison.
Universally called “regenerative agriculture,” this promising agricultural methodology promotes multiple practices aimed at building soil health that can improve agricultural lands and ultimately sequester carbon, according to Rattan Lal Ph.D., the 2020 World Food Prize winner. When regenerative farmers use grazing animals (ruminants like cattle, sheep, goat or bison) in their system, it is called “regenerative grazing.”
Soil biologists widely recognize that intensively managed grazing animals on pasture lands have a high potential for quickly building up and locking carbon into the soil. A 2015 Georgia study of dairy cows in a regenerative grazing system recorded eight tons of carbon sequestered per hectare annually. Farmers and ranchers using regenerative practices may even have the potential to help reverse climate change.
Renown Zimbabwean rancher and ecologist Allan Savory believes that it is only by using livestock managed to act like the bison herds (or the great herds of antelope, zebra, elephants and giraffe that work in similar ways upon Africa’s grasslands) that we can reverse crippling worldwide desertification and stop climate change.
Managing Domestic Cattle to Act Like Bison
Many of today’s domestic cattle ranchers, concerned about degraded pasture lands, are attempting to replicate with cattle (and other natural herbivores, like sheep) 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 act by instinct.
But while these new efforts to manage cattle to ‘graze like bison’ are helping restore domestic cattle ranchlands, cows still aren’t nearly as well suited to the job as bison are. There is a good reason why bison have often been called the “bastions of the grasslands” — it is the role bison evolved to fill.
Noble Bison Factoid
But What About Bison Farts?
Any conversation about climate change and cattle (or bison) invariably invokes the “cattle farts” argument.
This is the often-repeated fallacy that ruminant animals (primarily cattle, but this also includes bison, buffalo, sheep, goats and deer) are significantly contributing to climate change by releasing methane through flatulence.
In actuality, ruminants create very little methane through their “farts,” although they do “burp” methane. This is part of the natural process of the ruminant digestive process called “enteric methane production.”
Although ruminants (including bison) produce methane, the amount produced is a pittance compared to the greenhouse gases emitted through the burning of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, properly-managed ruminant herds (including cattle, sheep and definitely bison) are critical in sequestering carbon through their grazing habits.
For more information on the impact of methane production from ruminants, we highly recommend following the UC Davis CLEAR Center. The center publishes the latest science on ruminant enteric methane.
How Bison Help Other Prairie Species
Bison don’t just build soil and sequester carbon, they support healthy habitats for other species and they regenerate pristine watersheds.
It is not entirely surprising, then, to learn that bison are critical for the survival of many species native to prairies.
The Impact of Bison on Native Bird Populations
Wes Olson, a Canadian bison expert who has helped spearhead efforts to reintroduce bison in national parks working with bison conservation efforts at Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Banff National Park and Grasslands National Park, has found that bison populations support native bird species.
Not only do the insects that live and populate in bison dung feed birds, but bison hair (the second warmest hair shed by a mammal in North America) is used in bird nests. Clutches raised in nests lined with bison hair have increased survival rates.
Bison also create “grazing patches.” They eat down grasses close to the ground in about 10 feet square patches, creating a mosaic of shorter and taller grass areas. Over time these patches merge. This habitat is ideal for bird species — including most of Canada’s native songbirds — that need shorter grasses to forage for insects but taller grasses nearby to build nests safely.
How Bison Wallow and Defecate their Way to More Species
Another habit unique to bison is that bison love to “wallow,” rolling on the ground to loosen shedding hair and avoid biting insects. These long-last depressions enhance plant and insect diversity, creating habitat for more species.
The amazing bison dung patty, which we have already learned about, plays a massive role in supporting the health of prairie land species. One patty can support as many as 100 insect species and is a tiny, living micro-ecosystem of its own, with as many as 1000 individual insects per patty. It is estimated that one bison cow will produce a quarter of her body mass in insects a year.
When the bison disappeared from the prairie lands, their dung went with them. The subsequent trickle-down effect on the animals that survived on the insects that needed dung beetles was immeasurable.
The positive benefits of bison in an ecosystem go all the way up the food chain. Where bison have been reintroduced, land managers report not just increased insect and bird populations but rebounding large mammal herds, like elk.
Bison Create Healthy Watersheds
Bison’s regenerative grazing habits encourage water-holding soil structure development.
Unlike domestic cattle, bison do not naturally hang out at the edges of ponds or lakes, which means they don’t degrade and erode the soil around watering holes. A study at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma found that bison grazing year-round in a 23,000-acre pasture avoided areas near water (and trees). Cattle in similar stocking rates tended to congregate around watering holes and under trees.
Bison’s cloven hooves are sharper than cattle hooves and leave a “cut” in the soil, scarifying the natural moss covering much of Canada’s grassland ecosystem at the soil level. When rains come, those bison-hoof grooves capture the water before it can rush off and let it trickle slowly into the ground for better penetration. This also prevents erosion leading to flash floods and muddy, polluted waterways.
Noble Bison Factoid
Regeneration in Action!
Noble Premium Bison’s ranch lands were “reclaimed” from old farmsteads and plowed up, tired, degraded lands. As our bison herds have re-established the native grassland ecosystem, we observe first-hand the difference bison makes on the diversity of the ecosystem around us.
Water pockets are naturally restoring themselves. When spring and summer rainfalls come, our neighbours suffer from destructive flash floods, but the water on our ranch lands penetrates the ground and doesn’t runoff.
Noble now boasts thriving populations of songbirds, hawks and countless mule and white-tailed deer. We even have a small elk herd that found their way to us and now seem inclined to call Noble home.
Saving Bison by Starting the Canadian Bison Industry
Bison are still not raised at near the numbers that cattle are (there are approximately 12 million domestic cattle in Canada) and many consumers are unaware of the health benefits of bison meat.
However, the Canadian bison industry is gaining ground the more consumers learn to enjoy and choose bison meat. For bison ranchers, that has also meant learning a lot about bison’s instincts.
Ranching the Wild Bison
Though bison ranchers love how bison’s instinctual habits work in harmony to restore their lands, successful bison ranchers must learn how to manage bison effectively. To be blunt, bison aren’t domestic cattle!
Bison are big — bison bulls are around 2300 to 2400 pounds, about 25 percent bigger than a typical domestic beef bull. Bison are athletic, fast and agile. They are strong and famous for plowing through fencing (or jumping over it!). All this makes management a challenge for ranchers used to domestic cattle.
Luckily, bison have a unique social structure ranchers have learned to use to their advantage.
Bison Have Families
Bison organize themselves by family groups in a complex society of about 100 animals.
A dominant bison cow (female) will act as the “lead cow,” and every bison in the herd will have its place from most dominant to least. These family groups instinctively stay together and learn their range territory, passing on that knowledge from generation to generation.
When two bison herds are put together, they will fight to re-establish social dominance, ending with injured and distressed animals. They remain much calmer when they stay with their herd’ relatives.’ Instead of introducing new bison stock one at a time (or putting together many bison from different herds, as happens with domestic cattle), ranchers move new stock in small family units instead.
Bison ranchers use this strong family instinct, plus their natural tendency to stay in areas they are already familiar with, to move them around. The herd becomes comfortable with travelling between sections of pasture they know. Instead of pushing the bison from place to place with horses or ATVs bison ranchers teach their bison where to go.
Once they learn the route, the herd remembers it for generations.
Noble Bison Factoid
Learning How to Move Bison
We move Noble’s bison herds back and forth from the pastures to our home ranch in just about 20 minutes, something that took hours with cattle.
Our dominant bison cow leads the herd where we want them to go, down the trail and through the correct gates, because she has learned to expect fresh pasture and feed. The rest of her family (herd) follows.
That’s a good thing because you can’t make bison do anything. Instead, according to Doug Griller, co-owner and producer of Noble Premium Bison, the bison have to believe “that is where they want to go.”
Bison are Better Suited for Canada’s Climate than Domestic Cattle
Bison are a more hands-off animal to raise as compared to domestic cattle and are naturally suited to our climate. They are a species that is still truly wild at heart and don’t need us humans to survive.
Calving and birthing are simple. Unlike in domestic cattle, ninety-five percent of bison cows will naturally, without any human interference, become impregnated to have their bison calves in mid-April by the end of May. They will hold off birthing if there is bad weather, usually giving birth during the day, unlike cattle, which are notorious for having their calves in the middle of the night during the worst storm of the year.
Bison are also very long-lived. It’s not unusual for bison cows to reliably calve at 15 years old, some even as long as 18 to 20 years old. Most beef cows are culled from cow-calf herds by the time they are eight years old for lack of productivity.
Bison are hardier than beef cattle in cold weather conditions, they survive our Canadian winters in better health than domestic cattle and with less work from us ranchers to help them.
They have a longer intestine and can slow down their metabolism keeping food in their system for longer than cattle. Bison will eat a lot in the fall months and become less active through the winter, not moving around as much or needing as much feed.
Noble Bison Factoid
The Bison are the Best Teachers
When we started raising bison in the 1990s, there wasn’t anybody to teach us how to do it.
Since then, we’ve learned that bison cows with young calves can be dangerous, and we better respect that. A raised bison tail means they are ready to fight and fend off an attack (and we’d rather not be in the middle of that).
But the best lesson we have learned from our bison is to let them teach us. When we watch, pay attention and learn, we discover how to work with our bison.
Bison are not a species that can be manipulated to fit what works easiest for humans, like domestic cattle. We must work WITH bison, on their terms, to raise them successfully.
Bison Aren’t Given Hormones and Rarely Antibiotics
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, most male animals destined for slaughter are castrated and then typically given growth hormones to encourage their growth. Growth hormones are often given to beef cattle to encourage their growth toward muscle producing a heavy-bodied animal with fewer feed resources.
Hormones aren’t needed for bison. They grow naturally at a slower rate than domestic cattle and are not castrated. Their natural hormones contribute to their growth.
Bison are a healthy species and rarely need antibiotics, partly because of their natural constitution and because they are raised naturally on pasturelands, not crammed together in a commercial feedlot. Noble does not 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.
At Noble, we operate under a philosophy of respect to our land and animals. We call this practice our “Culture of Care.” We follow the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Bison as developed by the CBA. This code was developed with respect for, and the understanding of, the wild nature of bison. It reflects available scientific research, both bison-specific and research undertaken in other livestock and wild species.
Noble Bison Factoid
Our Bison Have Access to Grass Their Entire Lives
Most consumers today prefer the texture and uniformity of beef finished on grain rations. This is why most cattle spend their final few months in a feedlot, given special grain rations.
While Noble Premium Bison raises our bison herds on grass, bison destined for harvest are offered a free-choice, custom-mix grain ration during the last few months of their lives.
This allows us to keep our promise of always giving our bison the pasture access they need but still produce a consistent final product that appeals to a chef and consumer palates.
Eat Bison Meat to Encourage Healthy Living, Restore Our Planet and Save Bison
At Noble, we’re often asked, “But aren’t bison endangered? I don’t want to eat a threatened species!”
While bison once certainly were endangered (and practically extinct!), consumer demand for bison meat is now helping to ensure survival. As more Canadian ranchers look to raise bison to fill consumer interest in bison meat, herd numbers continue to rise.
When Canadian meat-lovers choose to eat bison and enjoy popular cuts harvested from bison like New York, sirloin, or T-bone steak, they aren’t threatening the recovery of the species. They are ensuring it. The best thing you can do to save bison isn’t to skip eating bison meat, but to purchase it — and tell all your friends and neighbours to join you!
Eating Bison Meat for Your Health
Bison is a healthy choice for consumers looking to optimize the nutrient density of the protein they consume while reducing their calorie or fat intake. Bison has less 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 increased carbohydrates, grains, processed foods and sugar has increased heart disease as well as many other diet-related disorders like obesity and diabetes.
Red meat isn’t the culprit, argue nutritionists like Diana Rodgers, in her movie, Sacred Cow. Lean, naturally (grass-raised) red meat is a critical component of human nutrition.
Meanwhile, bison is a very nutrient-dense, lean protein. 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 higher in iron and omega-3 fats than beef and 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.
Noble Bison Factoid
Bison Versus Beef Burger
A typical bison burger has 152 calories and 7 grams of fat.
That’s less than a 90% lean beef burger (184 calories and 10 grams of fat) and even a 93% lean turkey burger (176 calories and 10 grams of fat)!
A bison burger (compared to beef) generally tastes lighter, coarser and slightly sweeter. It’s not gamey and doesn’t have an aftertaste. Some consumers say they can’t tell the difference between bison meat and beef. Others (like us) think bison is better!
Studies indicate that bison is more heart-healthy than beef. A 2013 nutrition study concluded that eating bison six days per week for seven weeks was healthier for men’s vascular systems than eating beef.
The More We Eat Bison the More Acres of Prairieland Restored
Choosing to eat bison is good for bison and Canada. The more we succeed at bison reintroduction, the better for the degraded Great Plains.
While the preserved (and genetically pure) bison herds of places like Banff National Park or the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary in the Northern Territories are thriving, there is limited capacity to expand these park-managed herds. On the other hand, millions of acres of privately-owned Canadian grasslands could benefit from having bison reintroduced as the demand for bison meat grows.
It doesn’t matter if you live in one of our cities or in a rural community, growing consumer demand for bison meat means that much more prairie land could be potentially restored to its former glory.
Noble Premium Bison is Proud to Sell Canadian Bison
We believe bison meat is the best meat choice we can make when caring about the Canadian Grasslands, our planet and our health. But that’s not the only reason we sell bison meat.
Bison meat as a superior protein has been a well-kept secret for many years, but at Noble Premium Bison we’re trying to change that. From our complete list of FAQs to our continually updated Blog and Recipes, our goal is simple – to answer your questions about bison and share knowledge on sustainability, nutrition and health.
Spending our lives ranching bison is a joy, a passion and an honour; bison have a lot to teach us humans about how to live and walk responsibly upon this land we share with them. At Noble, we work hard to educate consumers, ensure bison’s long-term survival and improve the environment and grasslands we (and our bison) call home.
Bison once built great, regenerative native prairies. Bison can, and are, doing it again.
Canadian producers/suppliers of sustainable bison meat, ranch-raised on native grassland. No hormones or antibiotics. Retail in 🇨🇦 DM for Foodservice