(NPN) - We’ve heard of the other white meat, but how about the other red meat? Bison meat is exploding in popularity across the country.
And it could be the healthy alternative you’ve been looking for.
There are few things more mouthwatering for a meat lover than sizzling meat on a grill. But how about a burger that satisfies your taste buds but doesn’t leave you feeling so guilty?
Bison meat may fit the bill.
“We have classics such as our bison pot roast, bison short ribs, and our fan favorite is our bison meatloaf. Which is our fan favorite,” said Chris Cantwell, director of operations for Joe Montana’s Grill.
Restaurants around the country are now serving up bison meat as a healthy alternative to beef and, they say, people are eating it up.
“They love the flavor. They’re always surprised by the flavor. Bison is not gamey at all it tends to be a little bit sweeter than beef and I think consumers really enjoy that,” Cantwell said.
Consumers like Janice Schmidt. “The flavor is really pretty amazing,” Schmidt said.
And according to the USDA, bison is lower in calories and fat than beef and higher in protein and iron.
“There’s been studies that show eating bison over red meat or beef can actually decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Jim White, a dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
And unlike many meat products on the market, bison are free range and grass fed. And they’re not given growth hormones or antibiotics either.
“We haven’t tinkered with these animals to be anything different than Mother Nature created over thousands of years,” said Dave Carter of the National Bison Association. Carter says he has seen a large increase in demand for bison meat over the last few years.
“Today you can go into restaurants and you can find short ribs, there’s fajitas being made with bison, there’s great flank steak, brisket, even osso bucco which is made from the shank,” Carter said.
But with that increased demand comes an increased price tag. And experts say bison will always cost more than beef.
“It just takes more time to raise the animal and to raise the quality of meat and we’re not going to compromise on that,” Carter said.
But diners said they felt it was worth paying a premium price. “Since I do it as a treat I don’t worry so much about the additional cost,” Schmidt said. “It’s so much healthier that that offsets the price.”
And White agrees, saying he thinks the bison boom is here to stay.
“Consumers are looking for healthy alternatives to become healthier. As long as there’s going to be these options I feel more Americans are going to put their money where their health is,” said dietitian White.
Another bonus? Conservation. In fact, experts say the eating of bison may actually save the species from extinction. Back in the 1800s, bison were almost wiped out. Now they’re thriving, thanks to ranchers who are more willing to grow the herds due to their increased profitability.
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