Bison offers more nutrients, less fat than beef



jennifer yang/metro toronto


Bison has more nutritional value and less fat than conventional beef.


Sometimes when sinking our teeth into a big juicy burger, we get those tiny pangs of guilt over not having ordered the garden salad instead. We then dream of a perfect world where burgers are lower in fat, higher in nutritional value and maybe even low-impact on the environment. Why the heck not?

As it turns out, such a burger does exist and not just in our imaginations. They’re just made from bison instead.

Described as leaner and sweeter than beef, bison is becoming an increasing presence on North American restaurant menus, hamburger buns and barbeque grills. According to Statistics Canada, the estimated number of bison on Canadian farms grew a whopping 219 per cent between 1996 and 2001.

“Although bison have been around for centuries, the bison industry from a commercial perspective is just about 20 years old or less,” said Terry Kremeniuk, the executive director of the Canadian Bison Association. He explains that the recent surge in bison production reflects a shifting tide in consumer trends. “Consumers today are looking for meat products with less fat, richer nutritional value and no injected hormones,” he explained, and these all just happen to be qualities that bison meat offers.

Compared to beef, bison is rich in nutrients and has about one quarter the amount of fat and 70 per cent the calories. This hearty red meat is also an excellent source of iron and Reader’s Digest recommends it as one of the top five foods that all women (who are especially prone to anemia) should eat.

Some people object to eating bison because they believe them to be endangered, but Kremeniuk says that this is a misconception. “Bison are actually a conservation success story,” he explained.

While population numbers are nowhere near what they were 200 years ago, Environment Canada currently does not list bison as an endangered species.