A Visit to the Farmer’s Market

This is a story I did earlier in the semester, but I thought why not put it on here since it’s the semester crunch and I’m not going to have time to pitch it anymore…

I’ve never been one to believe in the idea of eating healthy. If something looks good I’ll taste it, and probably engulf the whole thing regardless of perceived future consequences. Perhaps this comes in to play more than ever when it comes to meat. A succulent steak, a perfectly crisp piece of bacon, or even a juicy breast of chicken will tempt me no matter the producer, just like many other consumers.

My curiosity about the natural and healthier food craze peaked, leading to my latest voyage through the Madison farmer’s market. I went to the Wednesday edition, opposed to Saturday’s market where a giant square suddenly feels miniscule as people bump your shoulder scouring tents for the most vibrant green in a green pepper. I had one goal in mind; seek out a meat vendor to talk about the craze revolving around “healthy” meat.

A giant “No Hormones! No Antibiotics!” sign caught my attention, but I scoped out a few more vendors just to be sure. It quickly became obvious that on Wednesdays, only one-meat producer sets up shop on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Pecatonica Valley Meat.

For over 30 years, the Carr family has been involved in meat production. They advertise purity in their meats and in the other items they sell. On this day, Amy and her husband Todd man the tent standing in front of a trailer full of dead animal parts. Amy stands with a warm smile waiting for the next consumer to step up.

I’ve always found it tough to trust people selling products in any form when asked to discuss why theirs is better, especially when it comes to food. Taste buds vary, metabolism constantly differs, and lifestyle choices play into health and pricing concerns.

The Pecatonica story can be seen as a mirror image of how the meat industry has fluctuated and the mentality of the buyer has shifted. In the 1980s, the Carr family found themselves on the outside of farming looking in. Prices in stores dropped significantly, larger meat producers dominated the market, and any chance of profits disappeared. “As my brother always said, the country is used to cheap food. And to farm commercially, back in those days you just couldn’t make anything,” Todd told me.

And that’s where the large-scale meat industry started drawing praise and scrutiny all at the same time. The ability to offer affordable food was, and still is, the key to many consumers’ hearts. At a farmer’s market or in the world of raising natural animals, you’re not going to find the cheap meat. In order to create inexpensive meats simple steps are taken. Feeding antibiotics to keep an animal healthy before they ever get sick, throwing in various hormones to speed growth rates, and constantly feeding them in a sheltered environment to prevent weight loss is part of the game.

For the Carr’s, that lifestyle didn’t fit their views for how an animal should be raised.

“When you raise animals naturally and you keep where they live clean, you won’t need to use a lot of antibiotics or hormones,” said Amy. “They’re outside getting fresh air and sunshine, that also helps contribute to a healthy animal.”

Approximately seven years after leaving the industry, the Carr family found a way to reenter full-fledged farming. It was what they knew and loved. Plus, many consumers started backtracking on the whole cheap meat concept. Pecatonica reestablished itself and could promote this “No Antibiotics, No Hormones” lifestyle without a problem. Enough people became willing to spend a bit more for cleaner and leaner meat.

While I chatted with the Carrs, I watched customers buy $1.00 beef sticks for a quick snack and the occasional piece of meat well above grocery store costs. Nobody questioned the prices or where the animal came from. They didn’t ask about the environmental effects of large-scale meat production or long-term health effects of eating red meat.

That’s when it became more obvious of the choice these people make. Instead of buying eight ground beef patties totaling $4.25, they buy one pound for the same price from the stand. The reasons might not make sense at first glance and may even seem elitist, especially to those struggling to make ends meet.

The choices can be broken down into three facets. People could simply be eating less red meat. If the product is higher quality and you’re willing to eat less of it, why not spend more. By buying massive quantities of commercialized meats, in the end you’re setting yourself up to eat massive quantities. Cheaper food can be enjoyed more often than stuff that can’t fit into a budget.

And as time has shown, if you eat a lot of red meat no matter what kind, health effects will eventually creep in.

Additionally, the carbon footprint of buying local is astronomically smaller than from most stores. Time magazine once said the meat industry generates over 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases. While this may be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind looking to feed their family, think about the future costs. Manure has to constantly be destroyed (and it’s piling up). Add in some unused offal meats that might be needed one day to help the world sustain enough food for all and there are some troubles.

And finally, think of the animal lifestyle. I’ve talked to people who want to know the animal they’re eating was happy. It might sound slightly sadistic because the animal ultimately died to be on your plate. Can that ever be a happy lifestyle? But, to them they’d rather eat an animal who got to see the sun, than locked in a sheltered room.

But, it circles back to how you eat the meat. And that’s what so many people miss in the healthy meat craze. A place like Pecatonica Valley has been around long enough to build customer relationships full of trust. They have no desire to become the largest farm and they’re happy working with local restaurants and on the farmer’s market circuit. And that’s okay because it leaves more options for those looking beyond price and quantity.

There are choices like happy cows and environment they can help you with, but the ultimate decider is you. If you’re looking for the cheapest and most meat, a farmer’s market isn’t the place to look. If you want to enjoy meals every day involving pig, cow, or chicken, it really doesn’t matter where the meat comes from because it will still clog your arteries.

But, if you’re looking for an alternative, the Carr’s method might not be so bad.

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Get right to the heart of matters, It’s the heart that matters more

Thanks to travelpod for the picture of a Peruvian Heart Skewer server on the streets

Looking to get a bit crazier in the next piece of meat you eat?  Let’s step it up a little bit and get to the blood pumper, the engine that drives the body, the soul of it all: the heart.

A little background first on heart for those ready to head out and eat something better or something you’re more comfortable with. Let’s start with this: you’ve probably eaten heart before without even knowing it. It’s quite possible in your fast food heyday that the taco from Taco Bell had a slight percentage (10-15%) of heart in it. According to Jeff Sindelar, University of Wisconsin meat extension specialist, the company is allowed to use up to 15 percent. And, since it is a cheap meat (because the demand is low), they take advantage.

Next, if you’re from Detroit or have ever had the honor of indulging yourself in any sort of coney dog or items with chili involved from Lafayette Coney Island or American Coney Island, you have had beef heart. Of course, that recipe emerged from the 1910s and 1920s, a time when organ meats were as common as regular ground beef is today.

And of course, if you’re from a place like Peru, beef heart is still commonplace. Peruvian dishes like to use beef heart and not in a way that hides the meat. Beef heart skewers can be found from street vendors and in many restaurants. Even in Madison, Wisconsin a Peruvian restaurant, Inka Heritage has the skewered beef, known as Anticuchos featured on the menu.

So what are the benefits of eating heart (besides being able to say you’ve got a lot of heart- awkward)?

Thanks to Kelly the Kitchen Kop, she helps lay out some of the benefits. These include the obvious heavy concentration of protein, but continue into more in depth benefits like B vitamins often found in offal meats, the much needed phosphorus and zinc, plus a lot of CoQ10- good for a lot of things according to Wikipedia.

Don’t forget the heart is a muscle, and one of the strongest for a body. That means it’s a leaner, less fatty meat.

And for those who don’t trust me, trust local Madison Chef Dan Fox, executive chef at the Madison Club. He says if he was limited to choices of offal meat to use in a meal, heart would be right up there.

“Heart I like to serve. I think that’s a very tasty part of the animal.” He says braising or roasting hearts

He also relayed a story that proves the theory, if you don’t have the mental image of what it is, it might not be so bad…

“We’ve served beef heart and called it beef skewers, I did it on purpose,” Dan told me. “We did the Best of Madison party and I put out very interesting things. One was a marinated beef heart skewer and all the salon stylists were up there like ohh that’s fantastic… Beef heart is very very good, but people just don’t want to try it.”

The best part of the story, Chef Fox never told the guests that they had just tasted beef heart, and probably for the first time. “They can just go on believing what they thought it was.”

And that’s the key for people trying foods they wouldn’t try because of the mental image. If you can trust where you get the meat from and the cook, it usually doesn’t matter what they’re using. And, Chef Dan wouldn’t risk the trust of the people who it his food. By taking a risk of serving beef heart to unsuspecting consumers, he didn’t put them in any danger and was willing to show them a world they never knew.

So you want to try beef heart?  Well, if you can find a Peruvian restaurant nearby they probably present a good opportunity. Or how about cooking it for yourself…

Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Chili Peppers
Beef Heart, Bacon, Butter and Onion

Beef Heart en Mole

And a whole lot more of them…

Change of Pace: A Look at Seafood

Today we take a little break from the extensive world of meats and focus on the world of seafood. Sadly, there is debate in this world as to if fish is actually a “meat.” For those wondering, it is. The animal is still being killed, the “meat” inside is being used for food, it contains proteins, and it’s still a living breathing being. The biggest debates come from the religious side (I’ll leave that one alone), but because this is a meat blog and I’m writing about it, clearly it’s a meat. So for those who think it’s different, especially vegetarians who try to get around, look in the mirror and realize what you are doing, you monsters.

Anyway, seafood tastes great and comes in a variety forms. But, like all good things there is usually some bad that comes with it. Much of the fish and seafood industry is heading the way of the meat industry and deserves attention as well. Seafood can offer some great products like salmon, swordfish, or the now popular Chilean Sea Bass, as well as crab, shrimp and lobster. There are controversies all over the world about certain items to eat (like the dangers of eating octopus head in South Korea, a very tasty treat by the way), fish that are constantly on the endangered list (like Salmon), and fish farms full of pollution (Thanks ARK fisheries).

First, let’s start with the previously mentioned salmon debate. There are people on both sides of the debate. Pacific and Atlantic salmon are both seen as heavily declining populations. If you’re into the whole trends, data, and maps thing the government has tons of sites set up here for Pacific salmon, a call for a 5- year review from March 2010 with an updated list of salmon species to be looked at, and a nice Atlantic endangerment article from Maine.  According to this report from Canada in October 2010, which includes a video, thinks might not be so dire:

The video, released by Positive Aquaculture Awareness (PAA) entitled “Salmon Extinction? A Reality Check”, uses the direct words of prominent activists who have claimed BC’s wild salmon are at risk of extinction.

“These outrageous quotes of salmon extinction were spread by activists with a clear goal in mind – to damage the reputation of BC salmon farmers,” says PAA President Cory Percevault. “But this year, we have literally millions of examples swimming back to BC rivers, proving just how wrong they were.”

But, why are things endangered?  There are more reasons than just the over-fishing part of fish farming. Diseases and hazardous practices can engulf more salmon species than it should according to the watershed watch.

Also in the Pacific Northwest, a political debate rages on over the Columbia Dam plan in America. This debate has raged on since the Bush administration and people feel Obama hasn’t done enough to change the original, faulty plans.

The 2010 plan assembles new information about climate change but does not offer any ways to help salmon survive the warming water temperatures and changing river flows that are expected, the motion argued. It added that the plan fails to follow the best available scientific information.

While there is both sides of the salmon endangerment concerns all over North America, one place that is safe is Alaska. The industry did take a hit when the world was looking for the cheapest food possible, but this article, from 2004, talks about what the Alaskan salmon industry went through.

Moving on from salmon, let’s take a brief look at the lobster industry. I recently read the book The Secret Life of Lobsters and it gives a pretty detailed account of the industry and the lobster itself. The lobster has also been in a heated population debate over the past quarter century. The book tells the story of how government forces and scientists have tried to enact regulations in the industry despite some data to the contrary. It looks at the fisherman/lobstering perspective, researchers, and government in the middle of this tenuous debate.

As you see, just like the meat industry there are environmental hazards, population debates, methodology debates, and anything else you can think of. Fish aren’t as easy to continue the local movement as water isn’t everywhere. But, there is one benefit of seafood everyone can enjoy. The pleasure of eating. And for those who lasted long enough, I will share some recipes that I’ve never used, but sound fantastic.

I’ve actually had similar variations to this simple recipe of the salmon variety. A nice Salmon with Lemon and Dill.

Salmon too fishy for you?  How about some simple grilled Sea Bass or a nice Tuna Steak

And finally, lobster. Instead of spending $45+ at a restaurant, how bout you make some at your home.

Grasshopper tacos with Fried Tarantula on the side

Bug Eatin, courtesy of PBS

I’ll start with the unfortunate news, and as a waiver, I have never tried a prepared insect meal or item. Sure, I’ve eaten the occasional bug that flies into my mouth or a worm from back in the day, but I have yet to seize the opportunity to eat a real bug. Recently, I’ve come across some links involving appetizing meals that include insects. Some have been stumbled upon and others sent to me. Eating an insect is still a lot more popular outside of the United States than in them. Places like Cambodia and Thailand specialize in fried bugs, Central Africa is known for snacking on ants, while Mexico is also known for inserting them in various meals. In fact, 4 out of 5 people worldwide eat insects regularly.

For those adventurous enough to seek insects to eat, do not fear. There are some brave chefs in America that do incorporate what is known as entomophagy, the eating of insects. In fact, less than a month ago the New York Times had a set of articles dedicated to the habit. First, they described an $85 dollar dinner event at the Brooklyn Kitchen highlighting the flavors and uniqueness that these insects offer.

Scorpion Soup

They also discuss some history of insects in food and talk with famous eaters like Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods. To go along with the article, the NY Times setup a Q&A for Zimmern to discuss the bug world and some other items. And in case you wanted some recipes, NYT has you covered. They tell you the insects you can eat and some of the ways to eat them.

Of course, New York isn’t the only place interested in this kind of food. While, New York and L.A. often see the beginnings of fads around the country, there are plenty of other places interested in this bug world. At the University of Wisconsin (hey, I go there!) a former professor, Gene DeFoliart, used to do quite a bit of research on the topic. He ran a website called http://www.food-insects.com. At the website you can get the newsletter that he and other professors from around the country contributed to regarding the subject.

Now, we’ll move on to what you’re really interested in. The what to eat, who to eat, how to eat. First, we’ll start with Rick Bayless and his grasshopper tacos.

“If there’s one dish that Chicago’s super chef Rick Bayless wishes Chicagoans would lighten up about and learn to love, it’s: “Grasshopper tacos. Whenever I mention them, it always elicits a gasp from people because all they focus on is the most bizarre qualities of that particular dish. The Mexicans have been eating insects for centuries …”

That quote came from the Chicago Tribune in 2007, and he isn’t the only one attempting to keep that tradition going in the United States. Robert Sietsma talks about his own experiences trying out grasshopper tacos in Philadelphia. And for those thinking grasshoppers don’t have any benefits, he’s quick to mention protein is twice as much as beef and there are plenty of nutrients available within.

So now that we have been tasting some grasshopper tacos, how about some fried tarantula? One man, Jerry Hopkins has tried pretty much everything you could imagine in the world, including these Cambodian treats (On a side note, read about him trying his son’s placenta, not sure if even I could do that). Darrin DuFord takes a real look at the history and how to eat fried tarantulas. And, if you prefer another insect to be fried, checkout this Phucket dining guide. Of course, in America this delicacy is a lot harder to come by. So, let’s instead move on to dessert.

I’ll start you with a chocolate ant recipe. If you’re too lazy or gross to do it yourself, order them from the candy warehouse.

I’m assuming for those still left, the lingering why still remains. First, those food fearing nations might need to truly suck it up and eat insects for the fact that food supplies aren’t what they used to be. The article also talks about a great salad with crickets if interested.  Also from the article, the most telling part of this battle that will creep up quicker than people think:

“The world is already struggling to feed itself, a crisis that shows no signs of abating unless population trends make a sudden U-turn over the next five decades. The oceans are being plundered at such a rate that – according to a recent UN report – even if we halve the number of fishing trawlers operating, fish stocks would still be unable to replenish themselves quickly enough to recover. Developing world nations such as India, China and Brazil, meanwhile, are cultivating their own rapidly expanding middle classes who are emulating the West in their demand for meat.”

In addition to the carrying capacity and food supply, general environmental effects are very important. The more animals killed, the worse it is for the environment as a whole.

“The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.”

That report from the United Nations in 2006 helps explain why eating bugs might not be so bad in the long run to get your protein.  This article from Discover magazine helps break it down a little more.

Alright, so we’ve reached the end. Here’s one more in depth look at the culture of entomophagy.  And favorite bugs from around the world from PBS. (I felt obligated since the picture at the top is theres after all.)

And some helpful recipes:

A variety of grasshopper recipes including Grasshopper Fritters.

Recipes from Clemson, including Mealworm spaghetti.

Banana Wormbread and a host of others.

When Searching for New Meat, Don’t Overlook the Tongue or Liver

There used to be a time when items as simple as the tongue and liver were quite commonplace for daily meals. In some countries, it still is. In the United States, however, true organ meat (yep, that tongue in your mouth is an organ) became a terrifying thought for hungry consumers. Many have no problem destroying their own livers with copious amount of booze or wasting taste buds with smoking and poor food choices, but to eat an animal’s tongue or liver is crossing the line.

Liver and tongue really aren’t that hard to find, even in America. Go to any Jewish deli and find yourself a nice tongue sandwich or at the least some chopped liver. Even if you search hard enough at a grocery store, you might be able to find some chicken or beef livers. Farmers markets don’t usually advertise those parts of the body, but trust me, they’re not throwing out anything they can sell. If you’re in the south, especially Texas, tongue or liver aren’t that unaccessible. And, if you find a traditional old family restaurant you might even be able to get the classic liver and onions kids grew to despise or love in past generations.

Organ meats, however, are attempting a bit of a comeback. With gastropubs the “hot” genre of restaurant in America, these delicacies are more common on menus all across the country. The liver is often made as fancy påtés and pickled tongue on rye is now a posh meal to be washed down with a high volume beer.

So what makes these items something you would ever want to try?

First, the tongue, definitely the more uncommon of the two. And just so you can get started, here is a recipe from the New York Times earlier this year for Barbecue Beef Tongue. Tongue isn’t the healthiest of red meat alternatives, but it’s quite tasty. After getting over the initial shock of “Wow, I’m eating a tongue,” you’ll find the texture and flavor to be quite tender and juicy. Obviously you get the basic proteins that are found in most red meats, but the most important purpose is the amount of B-12 in the tongue. B-12 is another one of those essential vitamins that are often obtained through supplemental means. There’s nothing wrong with taking a chance on the tongue if there are health benefits you can get naturally.

On the downside, there have been some worries over time of the tongue/mad cow connection. The trick around this, get the tongue from someone you trust. If a cow is over a certain age, around 30 months, that’s when their tongue becomes more susceptible. The tonsils must also be completely removed in order for it to be considered safe. But do not feat, there are regulations in place to prevent this and it is monitored closely. In 2009, there was actually a beef tongue recall. I suggest your first attempt, if you can afford it, would be to get your tongue from a deli or nice restaurant. Then, explore it on your own.

Below is a solid recipe for tongue tacos when you’re ready to take that leap into the kitchen.

For more tongue facts go here.

Now, the liver is a bit more popular in mainstream, the past, and probably around most cultures. It’s not as daunting as a giant tongue, but many people are turned off by the smell and taste. Often liver is accompanied by onions or strong sauces to counteract some of the turn-offs. There are also the options of grinding it into a pate or creating a chopped liver with onions, eggs, and other mixtures many of the benefits can be obtained.

And there are a lot of liver benefits. It is one of the most mineral rich organs that people like to dive into. As explained the University of Nebraska’s meat science division, liver is a great source for riboflavin, copper, Vitamin A and Vitamin B-12 (like our friend the tongue). It also can give you protein, iron, zinc, and other items that aren’t traditionally sought out, but important for the body. Liver isn’t that high in fat compared to other organs and can be taken from a calf, cow, pig, or chicken. For a classic recipe, here is some good old liver and onions to strive for at home. Don’t worry, there haven’t been any recent liver recalls in the U.S.

But let’s not forget, like every body part, this one has controversy too. Perhaps the most popular edible liver out there, foie gras (goose liver), has made a comeback at fancy restaurants. Places like Chicago lifted their ban on the item that melts in your mouth . Of course, foie gras, while tasty if it’s done right is much maligned for the animal cruelty that goes into creating the perfect goose or duck liver. Many farms are said to force feed these animals to get the liver as fatty as possible. In fact, some are fed fat directly in mass quantities that no animal would consume in regular doses. For a solid read, our friend wikipedia breaks down the Foie Gras debate worldwide. In the past few years, however, there has been a strong movement for “freedom foie gras” and letting them live in a way where they aren’t being stuffed to die. Check out this Minnesota foie gras farm to see how they have managed the delicate delectable.

Feel free to leave comments about your favorite memories or fears about trying these organ meats.

Antibiotics and the Meat We Eat

Cattle Production courtesy of USDA website

We all get sick and animals are no different. Many people take vitamins, supplements, or even antibiotics to try to prevent their own health from degrading. If you feel a cold might be coming on or the change of season leaves you vulnerable, why not pop a few pills.

But, what about for the delicious animals who many of us enjoy from time of time?

Right now, commercial farms all around the country are in a heated debate with the Food and Drug Administration over antibiotics being administered to animals. Many of these producers give antibiotics before any signs of disease, but to stifle the opportunistic diseases that may emerge. And it doesn’t hurt that certain antibiotics can make the animals a bit more on the plumper side without feeding them as much.

The New York Times recently looked at the issue and what the FDA is attempting to do about it. While these new “guidelines” may not lead to full-out banishments on using drugs, it might help prevent some from feeding these animals drugs, especially when unnecessary. A sick animal is one thing and a large part of the issue we’ll dive into shortly, but giving antibiotics to produce a larger product is where we’ll start.

The saying has been around for years, but rings true in many forms of life… quality over quantity. For starters, pigs and cows haven’t traditionally been small animals. It might cost a bit more to feed them the truly appropriate amount of food, but if the situation were somehow reversed (in a magical world where animals ruled over humans), wouldn’t you prefer food over drugs before being slaughtered? Health is one thing, but this is one version of antibiotic treatment that shouldn’t even be up for discussion.

So, now we come to health. Antibiotics used to prevent illnesses before they ever have a chance to think about emerging in the animals. The largest concern with this seems to be drug-resistance for both animals and humans to diseases as the animals and future generations are placed on the same regiment. Scientists and researchers have seen an increase in potential links according to PBS frontline. The PBS frontline episode debuted April 18, 2002, and eight years later the debate rages on.

With so many foodborne illnesses still a potential problem like e-coli and salmonella, do you really want to be eating the meat that might get you sick and prevent an easier solution of recovery. The New York times article mentioned above spoke with a variety of doctors, including Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speaking to a meat producer, Todd Carr from Pecatonica Valley Farm in Hollandale, Wisconsin, he said no sub-therapeutic drugs are used at the farm he shares with his wife Amy. And while all animals have the potential to get sick, such as cows getting pneumonia, once the penicillin or other drugs are administered they are no longer used in meat production. Depending on the situation, the cows can still be used to help raise their calves.

Of course, the real issue for farmers and even those buying their products is simple, money. If a product costs more to produce, it will cost more to buy. And if it means more labor for farmers, having to monitor their animals a bit closer, that too might cost more money. But, in 2006 when the European Union banned antibiotics for growth, after a ban in 1998 of specific drugs, they were able to adjust. Even if it were to cost both sides more at the time of production and purposes, the long-term costs of mystery health issues might add up to more in the end.

In June 2010, the FDA released these guidelines. And by the end of 2010, we’ll see if guidelines turn into regulations.

Intro with some Buffalo

Let me start off by giving a brief introduction into my world of meat. I eat a lot of it and I don’t discriminate. Doesn’t matter the animal, nor body part (ears, bone marrow, sweetbreads, etc.). My list includes the basics like cow, pig, chicken, lamb and seafood. It goes on to buffalo, venison, kangaroo, emu, ostrich, alligator, crocodile, duck, quail, taco bell meat, wild boar and continues on for a little while. I’ve never been one to care where it comes from or how the animals are fed as long as it tastes good.

But, the truth is, animals raised in specific manners both taste better and are healthier.

There are a lot of controversies in the world of meat and a lot of meats people are often afraid to explore because they don’t know where they are coming from. This blog will help confront issues like antibiotic use, organic meats, specialty animal farms, and other controversies popping up in the world.

Buffalo courtesy of U.S. National Archives

Today, we’ll start with a meat that has become more popular in America. The rising interest in healthy living continues to rise in America, yet many refuse to give up the deliciousness of red meats. And so, bison (or buffalo) meat has moved to the forefront of many looking for an alternative.

We’ll start at the beginning. The meat itself before any kind of commercialization jumps in is said to be leaner, comparable in taste, and a lot healthier in general. According to wisegeek.com, the fat content, cholesterol, and calories of Bison meat is all less than beef or chicken. Plus, add in some of those crazy omega fatty acids everyone is a fan of and buffalo may be a magical meat.

So, bet you want to raise some.  There are some benefits and downfalls of getting involved in buffalo farming. The National Bison Association gives a list of “advantages” for Bison. Things like lower disease resistance, no artificial shelter, and long productive lives tend to be the focus. Of course, Bison are a bit more on the wild side than your normal cattle as well. They can get a tad bit anxious and are a bit more on the difficult to contain side. Plus, while it is healthier and slightly more popular, for some reason people find themselves afraid to take chances on their meats. A slightly different taste and a whole new animal altogether will force some to shy away.

Of course, now that it is more popular, it’s also beginning to face the same problems that mass production of meats encounter. Back in July, over 60,000 pounds of bison meat was recalled for an e-coli breakout.

And for those who didn’t know, back in the 1800s Bison were near extinction in the United States. Over 300 years have surpassed, but if this part of the meat industry skyrockets and people want their bison watch out for numbers to begin dipping and prices to start increasing. Prices are already a bit more with the distinction this is a “specialty” meat.