Bison once roamed the North American plains freely in the thousands and were a staple food of Indigenous peoples. They were slaughtered almost to extinction by sports hunters by the end of the 19th century. Now, they are numerous again, with many livestock farms taking great care to raise bison in their natural environment, eating their natural diet.
Bison (also referred to as buffalo) is touted as a healthy source of protein. It is leaner than beef with less saturated fat and cholesterol and has more beneficial fatty acids. Due to its lean quality, it is best when cooked quickly over high heat; for tougher cuts, a low and slow method is best.
Although bison meat is widely recognized for its health benefits (in particular, the Paleo diet), you can't yet pick up a package of bison stew meat or ground bison at your supermarket. Luckily, there are a few reputable websites where you can purchase bison meat to enjoy at home.
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Northstar Bison is one of the largest distributors of 100% grass-fed American bison. A family-owned and operated business based in Wisconsin, Northstar promotes sustainability and the humane upbringing and harvesting of their buffalo. Over 600 bison roam Northstar's 1200-acre ranch, and the company works exclusively with ranchers who practice holistic resource management.
Northstar Bison prides itself on its excellent customer service, and they make an extra effort to please customers to ensure they come back. Pricing is reasonable, if not slightly less than other more well-known online meat suppliers.
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The Buffalo Guys
The Buffalo Guys is one of the most popular sites for buying bison meat. The two buffalo guys—Ken Klemm and Peter Thierot—went into business together in 2000 and their company has grown exponentially. They promote a philosophy of humane upbringing of their bison, allowing their herd to breed naturally. Their farms and ranches practice rotational grazing and land conservation.
The Buffalo Guys offers a wide selection of bison and buffalo products, including decor and apparel. Pricing is slightly higher than other online purveyors; however, they do offer free shipping.
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As the company name indicates, Nebraska Bison is located in Adams, Nebraska. Run by a husband-and-wife team, the ever-increasing demand for bison meat has allowed them to expand.
Like other bison farms, Nebraska Bison humanely raises grass-fed bison, but they also dry-age all of their meat, a unique aspect of this company. They offer the usual range of products, and their pricing is comparable with other purveyors of bison meat. Shipping is determined by weight, but for large purchases free shipping is offered.
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Sayersbrook Bison Ranch
The Sayersbrook Ranch originated in 1928 as an apple orchard, and in the '70s became a bison farm. The ranch was expanded twenty years later, offering herd tours, fly fishing, sporting clays, and boating, adding tourist destination to their name.
Sayersbrook has an enormous selection of bison products, including burgers, ribs, steaks, roasts, hotdogs, and luncheon meats (corned bison). Free shipping is offered for larger orders.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Wild Idea Buffalo Company
Wild Idea Buffalo in South Dakota takes sustainability extremely seriously and sees the raising of bison as part of restoring ecological balance to the Great Plains. Its bison are free ranging and thus 100 percent grass-fed on prairie pasture. Wild Idea Buffalo bison are individually harvested in the field, a method many people believe is vastly more humane than slaughterhouses.
The care taken in the raising and slaughtering of Wild Idea Buffalo bison is carried through in the butchery, packaging, and shipping of their meats. From steaks to snacks to charcuterie—and even pet treats—there is a wide variety to choose from with flat-rate shipping and free shipping (for larger orders) available.
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Black Forest Bison
Selling just jerky and summer sausages (as well as doggie treats), Black Forest Bison has been raising all pastured bison in Colorado since 2002. There are no feedlots or grain feeding involved; all of their bison roam free in pastures, creating a stress-free environment that leads to "happy bison."
The jerky and sausages are award-winning and come in a variety of flavors including teriyaki, chili lime, and red pepper.