Building a Better Burger… with Bison!
Americans love burgers. In fact, we love them so much we consume about 50 billion burgers annually . Unfortunately, our burger habit can not only be bad for us, it can be bad for the environment. We over-consume saturated fat, and the feedlot operations that raise these cattle contribute to air and water pollution.
The good news is that there’s a better way to make a burger. Bison, America’s original red meat, is shaping up to be a superstar on the grill.
Unlike the majority of cattle in America, which are raised on giant feedlot farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), bison are not kept in overcrowded conditions that foster pollution and disease. 
CAFO cattle, fed an inferior diet of corn, are given hormones to fatten them and antibiotics to keep them healthy.  The majority of bison are raised on ranches or grassland farms where they are free-ranging, grazing for their food. A better diet and living conditions means no need for routine antibiotics or artificial growth promoters.
So, how does bison stack up nutritionally against beef?  Bison is a nutrient-dense meat, packing a good amount of iron, selenium, and zinc.
- Is significantly leaner than beef (with fewer calories);
- Has more iron and less cholesterol than beef, which may be beneficial depending on your nutritional goals; and
- Is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (like grass-fed and finished beef)
But, How Does It Taste?
Delicious! Bison is rich and flavorful, like the more costly cuts of beef. It cooks quickly because it’s relatively lean, so be careful not to overcook it.
When cooking crumbled ground bison (as you would for chili) or a bison burger, cook only until the pink just disappears.
Tips to Make the Perfect Bison Burger
- Don’t over-handle the meat when forming burger patties;
- Season the meat with salt and pepper, form into patties, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour to set before cooking;
- Very little shrinkage will occur, so size your burger patties accordingly;
- Oil grill surface and lightly brush the tops of the burgers with oil before placing on preheated grill;
- Moderate heat is best to allow meat to cook evenly without drying out; and
- Cook burgers to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F or until no longer pink in the middle
Use these tips to savor the flavor of bison this summer and all year long!
- The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-hidden-costs-of-hamburgers/, Aug. 2013
- Is Bison Meat Better Than Beef? http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/bison-meat-better-beef, July 2011
- Humane Production, http://www.bisoncentral.com/cooking-bison/nutrition-information, May 2015
- Nutritional Information, http://www.bisoncentral.com/cooking-bison/nutrition-information, May 2015
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