Wild Idea Buffalo Company-
A Wild and Wonderful Idea for the Planet
How your meat is grown is as important as the type of meat you eat!
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jilian Jones, general manager of Wild Idea Buffalo Company. I had been hoping to take a tour, but the weather did not cooperate. Maybe next year!
The ranch was started by Dan O’Brien almost 25 years ago. He originally wanted to re-establish the peregrine falcon. He soon realized that you cannot focus on just one species because all are connected. When he recognized that the plains were missing one of it’s keystone species, the bison, he transitioned his ranch from cattle to bison.
Restoring the grasslands to it’s original splendor has proven to be challenging and time consuming. Every year brings more knowledge. Each year new species appear. The land had been heavily farmed and was severely depleted and hard-packed. They started with a few native species -blue stem, green needlegrass, western wheat. Gradually other were added and more native plants appear. Deer, antelope, birds and other animals came to graze and enjoy the new flora..
A soil carbon test done in 2015 showed significant increase in the carbon content of the soil which was sequestered from the air by the grasses! This is the main goal of regenerative farming which supports the soil so it can support more life. To learn more about regenerative farming and carbon sequestration go here.)
Wild Idea currently has 7-800 head on 35000 acres. They collaborate with other independent, like-minded ranchers, indigenous groups, and the Nature Conservancy from Nebraska to Montana, who share their passion for restoring the grassland ecosystems. Together they are restoring and preserving 300,000 acres of Great Plains Grasslands.
At Wild Idea Buffalo Company, they see the buffalo meat as a happy by-product of restoring the grasslands.
Jilian describes being in the middle of the herd as a magical experience. Her husband, Colton refers to it as stepping into the past.
They even harvest the animals respectfully and peacefully in their natural habitat to eliminate the fear factor and cortisol release that normally comes with a trip to the slaughterhouse.
Since these animals are eating their natural grasses, not GMO grains and are constantly on the move as they would do in the wild, the meat is very lean and healthy. Ground buffalo is 95% lean and is described as a sweeter meat than beef.
Out of respect for these animals Wild Idea looks for the best ways to use as much of these animals as possible. They use the meat, organs and some of the bones not used for human consumption, to make amazingly healthy pet food products!
And they recently partnered with Patagonia to use the hides to make work boots. Those should be some very tough and sturdy work boots!
But the work does not end with the land and the animals. They have also partnered with some of the indigenous tribes to gain from their collective knowledge and help them re-establish their native herds. This completes the circle that I speak about: Pets(Animals)/People/Planet!
You can make a difference with your purchasing decisions!
Traditionally raised beef live in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). Those animals have little room to walk and often no time to graze on grasses or run. They are fed GMO grains, a species inappropriate diet, and then trucked to the slaughter house.
Did you know that CAFO raised beef produces 51 lbs of CO2 equivalent (not including methane) per pound of meat produced? ( https://ourworldindata.org/carbon-footprint-food-methane ) This is intolerable and completely unsustainable! There are inputs to grow the grains, house and medicate the animals. Poorly distributed manure and urine from the animals produce waste gases that contribute to global warming and add toxins to the groundwater. Refrigeration and transportation to market produce the remaining CO2 equivalents. And that doesn’t even count the 1900+ gallons of water needed per pound of meat.( http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/cattle-feed-water-use/)
But prairie raised buffalo help to sequester carbon back into the earth where it belongs by supporting the grasses that feed them. They help to restore a healthy and diverse ecosystem. And there are almost no inputs for feed or water to these animals except in extreme weather conditions.
This means that when you buy buffalo meat from animals raised on their natural grasslands you are helping the earth to heal, decreasing your carbon footprint, supporting the people who work hard everyday for the future of our planet and our children and you may be getting the healthiest and tastiest “beef” you will find.
Being ecofriendly does not mean giving up all the things you love.
But it does mean making different choices.
We can all do our part to heal the earth by choosing to spend our dollars with people and companies who are creating solutions to climate crisis and the destruction of resources.