From the gourmet table alongside truffle potatoes to the burger joint on a bun, bison as an entrée is showing great potential as consumers seek healthy and sustainably raised meat options, according to the National Bison Association (NBA).

Bison is a nutrient-dense food. Research comparing bison with beef, pork, chicken and salmon shows that bison is the highest in protein and iron while providing the fewest overall fat and calories.
Current per capital U.S. consumption of bison is about 1/10 pound annually, a figure that is encouraging for NBA executive director Dave Carter. He says the NBA is in the position of recruiting people to raise bison due to concerns from bison processors and wholesalers that demand could outstrip supply.

"The NBA is very aware of the importance of restoring buffalo to the American landscape," Carter said in a statement. "Once an endangered species, bison were restored by the efforts of many, including hardworking bison ranchers who have given commercial value to bison."

According to the 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture, the number of small operations continues to grow while large bison ranches are in decline. Eighty-five percent of bison operations today have less than 100 animals.

"Consumers are seeking food that tastes good, is healthy and is sustainably and humanely raised," said NBA president Gail Griffin, owner of Rockie Hill Bison, Winona, Minn., in a statement. "We are very excited for the future of bison ranching as it so perfectly fits what consumers are seeking."

For more information, visit the NBA's Web site.

(Photo courtesy of Gary Leppart)