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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: http://www.americangourmet.net/americ...
            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.

              2. It is leaner than 80/20 ground beef, sure. I've bought it a few times, but haven't been won over by the taste. That said, ostrich burgers are pretty good, considering.

                1. We recently made buffalo meatloaf and really liked it. It had a more pronounced beef flavor.


                  In addition, Buffalos are not only interesting because of their history but also for its unique meat quality. They contain less calories, fat and cholesterol than beef, pork or chicken. And at the same time more iron and vitamin B12 than its “competitors”. In addition, their environmental factor is also favorable compared to commercial beef since they are generally grass-fed, require less water and are also less prone to illness which means they need hardly any antibiotics

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      +1 for Gio's Chipotle meatloaf...very very good! Though I'm eating meat from 4-legged animals less and less, when I want a grilled burger, ground buffalo is what I choose.

                  1. We've been buying ground bison for years, ever since we first noticed it in our local market, a small New England chain. We like the flavor better than beef which we stopped eating when DH had a triple by-pass. As people up-thread have mentioned the fewer calories, less fat and cholesterol and more vitamins are definitely a plus. The bison we buy comes from a ranch in the mid-west where the animals roam free and have no added antubiotics or anything else.

                    1. I was all psyched up when Wegmans started selling ground bison and bison sirloin steaks, assuming that they must be free-range, humanely raised, grass-fed, bladiblablabla.

                      Their website (can't remember the brand name now, probably great range buffalo or something) mentions nothing of free-range, and I've heard that they are "finished" with grains. Which means feedlots in my book.

                      Guess I'll have to stick to local farmers and their beef...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: linguafood

                        I have seen grain finished bison (at Trader Joes), but most of the bison brands I have seen are entirely grass fed. As far as I know, grain finished bison is labeled as such. I'm not a fan of bison steaks, to me they are tasteless. I'd rather have grass fed beef. However, I've used ground bison lots of times for meat sauces, picadillo, etc and find it as good as beef in those dishes. Sorry, healthful or not, ground turkey just can't cut it.

                        1. re: EricMM

                          I really like the ground bison for burgers. Despite their leanness, I find them to be very flavorful, especially at med-rare.

                          And I'll try to find out more about the bison at Wegmans. Peace of mind is a nice thing.