The Bison: A Lost Pillar Of North American Ecosystems
Here at Beck & Bulow, we’re really passionate about bison. Our love for these animals doesn’t just come from the fact that bison meat has so many health benefits, or that it’s so much more tender and flavorful than beef. It goes deeper than that. We believe that bison are sacred and strive to increase the market demand for buffalo meat. By doing this, we can help to increase the bison population that has dwindled so far from what it once was.
Grass Fed & Finished Bison Meat From Local Butchers
The bison population was upwards of 30 million only two to three hundred years ago. The herds were so abundant that these giant mammals became a symbol of the plentiful resources of the New World for European colonists. During the late 1880s, the buffalo were decimated to the brink of extinction. A 1905 census recorded a total of 835 wild bison and 256 living in captivity. They had been slaughtered en masse in an effort by colonists to subdue the native populations, who had built their lives around the buffalo.
For the Lakota people of the plains, the buffalo provided everything they needed in life. The buffalo is considered sacred, a gift from the Great Spirit. The ways of the buffalo were emulated by the people, to be fearless warriors and to know the power that is held in living together as a group. Every part of the buffalo was used, and the animal is a symbol of self-sacrifice, one who gives everything until there is nothing left. This carried over into Lakota culture as the virtue of generosity.
The meat of the buffalo was a mainstay of the peoples diet. Every part of the animal was prepared and consumed in many delicious ways. The bones were used to make many tools like knives, scrapers, war clubs and paint brushes. The horns of the bison became cups, ladles, spoons and headdresses, among other things.
The hair and fur were used inside pillows, twisted into rope and used for many other purposes. Rawhide was incredibly useful and could be made into containers, medicine bags, drums, rattles, saddles, and more. The stomach and bladder could become water containers, cooking vessels, and medicine bags. Buffalo robes and skulls are sacred and valuable possessions to this day.
Raised On Our Buffalo Ranch In New Mexico
The culling of the vast majority of the bison population was the loss of an integral part of the North American ecosystem. Bison in the wild roam and migrate over vast stretches of land. Their hooves are shaped in such a way that they actually aerate the soil as they travel together in large herds. Their manure provides vital nutrients to the earth.
In their once vast numbers, the large amount of organic matter created by their droppings helped to trap carbon below the surface of the soil, preventing it from reaching the atmosphere. The buffalo were once a huge part of building soil health, which benefits the entire ecosystem in incredibly far-reaching ways.
Conservation efforts to protect the buffalo began to take some prominent action in the 1960s. Due to these efforts and expanding market demand for grass-fed buffalo meat, the population is now approximately 500,000. Although these numbers signal that the bison is no longer in danger of extinction, it still is less than 2% of what they once were.
The appeal of grass-fed buffalo meat is easy to see. The meat packs an incredible nutritive profile in comparison to beef of higher protein, lower fat and cholesterol, and lower calorie. It’s more flavorful and more tender, a difference you can really taste and feel. When you consider these qualities along with the ways these animals benefit the earth, it seems like an increase in demand for bison meat should be a guarantee.
When we increase the demand for bison, we encourage American farmers to raise bison rather than cattle. Currently the demand for beef is so much higher than bison that most farmers are forced by the market to raise cattle in order to make a living.
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The more people that make the choice to purchase bison meat, the higher their population numbers will soar. Bringing their numbers back to what they were hundreds of years ago could bring untold benefits to this land, taking us back to a state of balance that we have never known in modern times.
The health benefits of bison meat expand so far beyond the nutrients contained in the meat. When we provide top quality, ethically sourced bison meat, straight from our ranch to your door, we hold a vision of the health benefits that can be provided for the earth, all the living creatures of its ecosystems, and for humanity as a collective.