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May 18, 2010 03:48 PM

Ground Bison vs. Ground Beef : Is bison really better? Has CONAGRA infiltrated this industry yet?

Lately, I've been substituting ground bison for ground beef when cooking for our family. The kids don't seem notice any difference. "Experts agree" that it's better for you, so I've been buying the convenient 1 lb. packages of ground bison in the meat section.

Here's my big question: Am I fooling myself? I do realize that ground meat isn't that great for you, but several of our family favorites call for 1 lb of ground beef, and I THINK buffalo is a healthier choice. Or am I wrong? If I can buy it at Super Stop & Shop, it must be mass-produced. And that means CONAGRA LURKS SOMEWHERE IN ITS HISTORY. I'm not a fan of Conagra (and similar conglomerates).

Does anyone know more?

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  1. I think most of the 'bison is healthier' belief comes from the lower fat content of equal sized portions.

    1. It's more lean, if that's something you want, to me it has so much less flavor. So far I haven't heard Bison and Conagra mentioned together, probably not enough of a market yet. They make a lot of product but not everything in the world. Yet.

      1. It's leaner and has more iron per unit weight than ground beef. Some ground bison is available in supermarkets, but as coll mentioned, the market isn't big enough for the conglomerates to have jumped in. I suppose they could be somewhere along the bison food chain, but look for grassfed bison (I'm honestly not aware of any feedlot bison, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist). The bison I've purchased has been local and grassfed and its flavor has been very good.

        1. I have wondered if the quality of bison comes from the fact that they are free-range, browsing animals? Are they, or will they be raised and slaughtered using the same methods that have hurt the quality of beef? I don't know.

          I buy grass fed beef from a couple of local ranchers. Because the beef is fed their natural diet, they produce a healthier mix of fatty acids and don't need to be fed antibiotics. The product is also naturally leaner. These cattle do not spend most of their life ankle-deep in fecal material, like corn-fed feedlot-raised cattle, so, harmful bacteria is also less of a problem. This beef is more expensive, and a bit dry, due to the lower fat content, but, probably as good or better than your supermarket bison, in many ways.

          Edit: I noticed one of your local bison producers feeds corn. I'm not sure what to think of that.

          1. Yes, Bison is better for you than beef - see attached nutritional chart. Bison has less fat, calories & cholesterol compared to beef, chicken, pork and salmon. Plus, it has more iron - so is great for women. You can check out a full nutrtional chart at:
            And, no Conagra has not stepped in. At this point, I believe all bison sold in the US comes from private ranches across the US.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bethgal

              I believe you are correct about the bison source, private ranchers. Unfortunately, it may be just a matter of time; when bison consumption becomes more mainstream, Conagra or the other major meat packers in the US, Swift, Cargill or even Tyson, may buy out smaller producers for their red meat industry.

              1. re: bethgal

                This is true when averaged over the whole animal. However, you can buy (or make) very lean ground beef that is leaner than most commercially prepared ground bison.