Bison or buffalo – what’s the difference?
For many years, “bison and “buffalo” have been used interchangeably. However, they are in fact different in their physical make up, their diet and how they are used by man. Product that is labeled as “buffalo” is commonly water buffalo, an entirely different species of animal that is mostly domesticated, like cattle, and can be found in Europe, Asia and Australia. Bison, on the other hand, is considered ‘wild’ or ‘game’ meat, as bison are raised in their natural habitat and aren’t domesticated. Bison is considered a high value specialty protein both for how it’s raised, its nutritional profile, and its premium taste. Northfork Bison is 100% North American Bison.
Are Bison an endangered species?
No, they are not endangered, nor have they ever been on the endangered species list. It’s worth noting that in the late 1800’s, it was estimated that all that was left of the great bison herds that had been roaming the North American plains were fewer than 1,000 animals! Today, there are over 400,000 bison in North America and their numbers continue to grow. Moving forward, as more consumers make bison a part of their regular diet, more bison will be a part of the North American landscape.
How are your Bison raised?
Our bison are pasture raised, with the least amount of handling. The animals are left to breed on their own in July, August and September, with no artificial insemination or embryo transfer technologies being used. Also, bison are not castrated, dehorned or branded. All of the cows and breeding bulls spend their entire lives on pasture. At about 18 months of age, they are fed mostly grass and/or alfalfa hay, with a small amount of grain. Our bison are not herded like cattle. Instead, they can be led via the “feed truck”, that they know leads them through a gate to fresh grass in another pasture. In short, our objective is to allow bison to be bison as much as we possibly can, and let them roam freely the way they have for thousands of years.
At what age are Bison harvested?
Bison are typically harvested at 24-30 months of age. This is in contrast to beef cows, which are harvested at 18-24 months of age.
What are your Bison fed?
Unlike most cattle, bison are pasture-raised on good quality forages native to the ecosystem. Our bison are given a feed program that provides them the freedom to more or less choose what they want to eat. For the majority of their lives, they will feed on grass, natural weeds and forage in the open pasture. In addition, ranchers also give them Timothy Hay or Alfalfa Hay. Prior to harvest, they are also given a small amount of grains (such as Winter Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Millet or Cracked Corn). This helps to create a more consistent quality and flavor of bison for the consumers.
What kind of grains are Bison fed?
Just before harvest, they are given a very small amount of grains. Typically, this would include Winter Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Millet or Cracked Corn (these grains are grown under HACCP—a science-based, food safety system subject to strict regulations and controls and designed to protect public health). For a majority of their lives, however, they feed on fresh, open pasture.
Are your Bison grain-fed or grass-fed?
All bison are pasture-raised. The free-range breeding herds (cows and bulls) spend their entire lives on pasture. Prior to harvest, young bison are fed some grain for approximately 100 to 150 days so that we can produce a premier, high quality, fresh product year round. Doing it this way allows us to find the balance between environmental and economic sustainability. By feeding some grain to the young bison, our products are consistently high quality, tender and flavorful year round.
Are your Bison raised without the use of antibiotics and added hormones?
Our bison are raised without the use of antibiotics. Also, federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in bison.
Where are your Bison raised?
Our Bison are raised on ranches located throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada.
Is Bison good for you?
Bison is a leaner protein than beef and may be a healthier choice if you’re looking to maximize your nutritional benefit while reducing your calorie or fat intake. Bison is a great choice for Keto-friendly diets—it has nearly 25% fewer calories than beef and is lower in total and saturated fat. Both are good sources of iron, zinc phosphorus, niacin, selenium, and vitamins B6 and B12, although bison is higher in iron and Omega 3s. A 2018 study by the National Institute of Health found that consuming bison for 7 weeks resulted in reduced inflammation, lower oxidative stress, and subsequent maintenance of vascular function.
Do Northfork Bison products contain gluten?
No. Northfork Bison products contain no gluten.
What does Bison meat taste like?
The taste of bison is very similar to the taste of beef, so it doesn’t take an adventurous palate to give it a try. It is slightly richer and sweeter than beef, with a smoother mouthfeel because of the leanness. There is no gamey aftertaste typically associated with game animals such as moose. The meat is tender, low in cholesterol and high in protein. It’s leaner than beef, pork, turkey—even chicken – and the flavor is out of this world!
Why is bison meat a different colour than beef?
The reason uncooked bison meat is usually darker in colour than beef is because it has a higher iron content and lower marbling.
Can I use bison instead of beef in recipes that call for beef?
Due to their versatility and comparable taste profiles, bison and beef can be prepared similarly in your favorite recipes. However, bison has so much more than beef in terms of their nutrition profiles, and because it’s a leaner meat, bison has less fat and cholesterol compared to other proteins. Just be sure not to overcook your bison steak (we recommend medium-rare and no more than medium) and check out our recipes here.
Is bison hard to cook?
Bison is as easy to cook as beef; however, it’s a much leaner meat so needs less time on the grill. When cooking steaks, we suggest medium-rare for the best eating experience and not more than medium. Use an instant-read thermometer for perfect results. For slow cooking and ground, follow the instructions on the packaging and check out our recipes page for some delicious recipes, including how to cook the perfect steak!
Processing & Certifications
What chilling process does Northfork Bison use?
We are one of the very few processors that chill our bison meat exclusively by air (the natural way). We do not use the more popular “Rinse & Chill” vascular infusion process favored by a lot of our competitors. By air chilling, no water weight is added to the carcass. This natural process enhances the taste, colour, tenderness and texture, as well as improves overall food safety.
What does SQF certified mean?
The Safe Quality Food (SQF) program is a rigorous and credible food safety and quality program that is recognized by retailers, brand owners, and food service providers world-wide. Recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), the SQF family of food safety and quality codes are designed to meet industry, customer, and regulatory requirements for all sectors of the food supply chain—from the farm or ranch, all the way to retail stores and restaurants. This science-based farm-to-table food safety and quality certification helps food producers assure their buyers that their food products have been grown, processed, prepared and handled according to the highest possible global food safety standards.
What is the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)?
GFSI stands for The Global Food Safety Initiative. It is a business-driven initiative for the development of food safety management systems to ensure food facilities are processing safe food for consumers.
“Over the past several decades, the world has seen numerous food safety crises in the headlines, eroding consumers’ trust in the safety of the food they buy, the brands they love and even the food industry at large. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was created in 2000 to help address this global issue. It is a landmark initiative of The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global industry network working to support Better Lives Through Better Business. We aim to build consumers’ trust in the food they buy – no matter where their food has come from, nor where in the world they live – by improving food safety management practices.”
The GFSI is a private organization that oversees and approves different auditing platforms as meeting their criteria. This criterion provides a universal ‘gold standard’ of recognition to specific food safety audits. In practice, this means that a food processor or manufacturer who can point to their GFSI certification can effectively and immediately show their customers and potential customers that their plant is operating with a structured, comprehensive, and effective food safety program.
Where are you located?
We are located in St-Leonard (Montreal), Quebec, Canada.
Do you offer wholesale prices to restaurants and retailers?
Yes, wholesalers and restaurants please contact us
Do you offer a printed consumer catalogue?
No, we don’t have a consumer catalog as our website serves to identify all of the products that are currently available.
Can I refreeze frozen items?
While Northfork Bison exercises the highest standards of refrigeration, it is possible under some conditions for frozen products to partially thaw in transit. According to the USDA, it is safe to refreeze foods that have thawed under refrigeration. We recommend either putting in the refrigerator and using within 5 days, or freezing within 48 hours of receiving your order.
How long will your products last in the freezer?
Generally, the USDA states freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, with quality being affected by the freezer conditions and length of time being frozen. A key component to maintaining quality is ensuring the wrapping/packaging of the product is not permeable to air (ie. vacuum sealed). For optimum taste and tenderness, the USDA recommends storing all frozen foods at 0° F (or lower) to retain vitamin content, color, flavor and texture. If you do not vacuum seal all of your frozen food and/or given that your home freezer may not be cold enough, we recommend that you use frozen products within 4 weeks of receipt.
Can I find your products in stores?
We sell to many food retailers across the nation. While we work to develop a store locator, we encourage you to look for our products when you’re shopping.
Order / Shipping Related
Where do you ship to?
We ship all over Canada and the USA
Do you have a pick up location?
Yes, at our head office in St-Leonard (Montreal)
Do you have a minimum order requirement?
Our minimum order is _$
Do you have to be home to receive delivery?
No, but it is preferred if you are home.
Delivery can be made to your office as well, as long as the meat is placed in a freezer
Will I receive a tracking number?
Is the meat shipped frozen or fresh?
All our meat is flash frozen and vacuum sealed.
Is shipping insurance required?
As Northfork Bison is not responsible for stolen, lost or late packages, we strongly recommend that you take the optional, Route insurance coverage. The extra cost for this “peace of mind” is very minimal.
Do I need an account to place my order?
No you do not need to have an account to place your order.
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