Saturday, November 12, 2005

Where the Buffalo Roam

.... In the great midwest! An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune last weekend discussed the increasing popularity of the buffalo as money-generating livestock. The article brings up interesting points, and explains what the buffalo meat is all about that is sold at our local Seward co-op.

As we all know, buffalo were originally very happy on our great plains, but went nearly extinct years ago. They are making a comeback, and agriculturists are starting to look at them as more than just a comeback-species.

According to the article, buffalo may be a much better livestock for the prairieland than cattle, which is logical since they were doing pretty well here before. "...Bison graze differently than cattle, clipping grasses and leaving wildflowers. They work the soil in ways that preserve plant diversity..." Although the article doesn't embellish, it implied that cattle have the opposite effect.

The article speaks to the toll cattle and other farming has taken on the midwest prairie. "In 1987, New Jersey professors Frank and Deborah Popper published an essay suggesting that traditional agriculture couldn't be sustained on much of the Great Plains." Unfortunately, nobody has taken that seriously until recently.

The goal of the Buffalo farmers is to create a Buffalo Commons, where buffalo can roam freely as they once did but still be a source of meat and fur. "In North Dakota, a state agency recently suggested that a Buffalo Commons could "provide new industry in areas of North Dakota ravaged by the rural exodus [and] transform our rustic, barren landscape into a natural attraction."

So that buffalo meat in the co-op is part of a new industry! One aimed at bringing back buffalo and creating harmony on the prairie! Sounds good to me. Plus, "Producers market buffalo meat as leaner and with less cholesterol than beef." Yum! Maybe Chipotle will start putting it in their burritos.

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