Bison once roamed the American plains freely in the thousands, and historically, their meat has been eaten by Native peoples. Bison were slaughtered almost to extinction by sports hunters, but now they are numerous again, many farms take great care to raise bison in their natural environment, eating their natural diet. Bison are closer to beef than game animals, and 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. I've researched the thousands of sites online, and here are a few of the best and most reputable sites where you can purchase bison.
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 bison. 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 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. New York Steak starts at $13.95 for two steaks (10 ounces total), sirloin steak is $14.70 per 8-ounce steak, ground steak is $11.50 per 1-pound pack.
Bear Mountain Bison is located on the 10,000-acre Bear Mountain Ranch in Colorado. The company raises 100% grass-fed bison without hormones or antibiotics, and the herd is tended to by hands-off cowboys to keep the animals stress-free in their natural environment. Bear Mountain practices land conservation and sustainability, and although they do offer elk and deer-hunting at their lodge, it is restricted to a relatively small area. The company's website provides a wealth of information about health benefits, meat preparation and proper cooking techniques. Pricing is very good: 2-1/2-3 pound chuck roast is $26, a 6-ounce filet mignon is $15, and 8 to 10-ounce rib-eye steak is $16, and ground bison is $9.50 per pound. You can also purchase a 1/4 or 1/8 of a whole bison.
The Buffalo Guys is one of the most popular sites for buying bison meat. Although the company goes to some lengths to explain that buffalo are American bison, the website offers interesting information about the bison's history in America, its temperament, biology, and a tremendous archive of articles. Although the two buffalo guys — Ken Klemm and Peter Thierot — only went into business together in 2000, 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, their shipping is very reasonable with a $14.99 flat rate, no matter the weight of your order.
As the company name indicates, Nebraska Bison is located in Adams, Nebraska, with a second ranch in Missouri. Run by a husband-and-wife team, the ever-increasing demand for bison meat has allowed them to expand. Their Missouri ranch also offers bison hunting for limited periods. Like other bison farms, Nebraska Bison humanely raises grass-fed bison, but, interestingly, they also dry-age all of their meat, an unique aspect of this company. They offer the usual range of products, and their pricing is comparable with other purveyors of bison meat. A package of 4 filet mignons is $60, 4 10-ounce New York strip steaks is $65, 4 12-ounce rib-eyes is $76 (a great value), 4 pounds of bison burgers is $43, but you can't purchase smaller amounts of ground bison, except as pre-formed patties. Shipping is determined by weight, but it isn't exhorbitant.
American Gourmet claims to be in the bison business longer (since 1976) than any other bison purveyor. Although the website does not give detained information about their 4,000-acre Sayersbrook Ranch, they guarantee customer satisfaction with their meats. American Gourmet has an enormous selection of bison products, including soups, stews, and chilis, hotdogs and luncheon meats (corned bison). The website focuses on recipes and the proper cooking of bison, featuring videos of twin chefs The Kelly Twins. Pricing for their products is slightly higher than other websites: four 8-ounce sirloin steaks are $49.95, two 10-ounce rib-eyes are $39.95, 4 pounds of ground bison are $42.95. One offering, however, that is unique to American Gourmet is bison osso buco with one 16-20-ounce shank for only $11.95 each. Three-day-shipping price is determined by weight.