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Monday, July 19, 2010


By Coralie R. Darsey-Malloy
Previously published in the Aquarian
All rights reserved

Bison meat in our cuisine is making a comeback like the animals themselves. From a low of about 1000 bison in the late 1800s, herds across North America now number close to 500,000 animals. If people feel the need to eat meat, they might like to consider the health benefits of bison. I fully understand and accept the value of vegetarian diets for those whose belief systems and biology are aligned that way. However, I also know that vegetarianism does not support all body types and mine is one of them.

After overcoming bulemia and anorexia in the late eighties, I researched vegetarianism and did my best to assure that my new diet provided enough protein and nutrients. However, after a year on that regime, I started to put on a flabby type of weight. Through time, my muscles became even more flaccid although I was exercising regularly.

In that period, I was working as a health consultant and hosting a talk show on cablevision called Perspectives on Balanced Living. Through my work I met people from all walks of life. A few of them were touting the benefits of bison meat and other wild game because they provided healthy, low fat sources of protein. Among them was naturopath Dr. George Kroeker. I became a patient of his during my vegetarian phase to consult with him about a variety of health problems.

Dr. Kroeker became my mentor as well and under his guidance I developed a greater understanding of the healing power of nature. He told me that part of Hippocratic Oath states: I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment.

He suggested that in order to re-gain strength, I needed to introduce animal proteins back into my diet even though it conflicted with my belief systems at that time. He bluntly said I had a choice to make: I could either hold to my ideals of remaining a vegetarian or eat lean meat and regain my health. He was a strong advocate of bison and other game because they are nutrient-dense meats, low in fat and easier to digest. He preferred bison meat, but depending on availability, suggested venison, emu, ostrich and rabbit as other options.

To help balance blood sugar imbalances, he recommended six mini-meals a day that included lean, low-fat protein (especially bison) along with plenty of raw and lightly cooked vegetables, whole grains and fruit. After some consideration, I decided to heed his counsel.

Shortly after adding bison to my diet, I noticed an increase in energy, reduction in hypoglycemic symptoms, decrease in numbing and tingling of my hands and feet, and an overall improvement in body strength and lean muscle mass. The positive changes motivated me to research the why of what was occurring.

Bison for B12

Dr. Kroeker was ahead of his time when he pointed out what others are discovering today that some people who eliminate all meat from their diet may be at risk of developing B12 deficiencies. For example, George Newman, MD, stroke expert at a medical school and centre in Stony Brook, Long Island, discovered that hidden deficiencies are becoming more apparent as health conscious individuals hit middle age.

Dr. Newman discovered that up to 20 percent of his patients following meatless diets were developing B12 deficiencies and neurological damage. Newman claimed that red meat is among the best sources of vitamin B12 although it can also be absorbed from fish (especially salmon), chicken and supplements.

Another reason I like bison is that so far they are raised without steroids, hormones or animal by-products in their feed. That means there are no drug residues and the meat is usually easier to digest by people with red meat intolerance. Also, with bison having less fat and being a denser meat, people tend to eat less of it than other kinds of meat. It is important for consumers to know that, depending on the cut, bison meat cooks faster. Most people who have said they dont like it have usually overcooked it.

 Cooking with Bison "There is no such thing as tough bison meat, only improperly instructed cooks." So say the people at www.healthybuffalo.com. Because bison lacks the internal streaks of fat called marbeling in beef it tends to cook more quickly. You can use beef recipes: just don't cook bison at as high a heat or for as long. Use about one third less time. Aim for rare to medium-rare as the meat will continue to cook after being taken from the heat. When cooking roasts, use a 275o F. oven and a meat thermometer. Check often. Crock pot cooking with its slow, moist heat works especially well with the less tender cuts of bison. Use the low setting and let it cook until it falls apart. Marinate steaks and stewing meat for added tenderness. Here's a recipe from David Malloy, Coralie Darsey-Malloy's husband, a bison meat enthusiast. Bison Meatballs 1 lb ground lean bison

1/2 C ground flax
1/3 C finely chopped red onion
1/2 C cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten (or egg substitute)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp oregano

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Mix until well blended. Form into meatballs about the size of a large walnut. Place meatballs on a greased pan. Roast in preheated 325o F. oven for 10-15 minutes. Partially cover with lid or tin foil to prevent drying out.

Bison Built for the Cold

Leonard Chopp from L/B Bison in Vita, Manitoba, told me that the innate hardiness of bison makes them attractive to producers because they are easy to maintain. Bison are essentially wild animals and their thick coats help to protect them from harsh prairie winters. Their naturally strong immune systems keep the need for antibiotic use to a minimum. Bison thrive within the natural habitat of North American ranges and can use grasslands not suitable for cattle.

Chopp is president of the Manitoba Bison Association, which assists producers and promotes the unique merits of bison to the public. "Although bison producers were affected by the U.S. border closing due to mad cow disease a few years ago,"Chopp says,"the industry is now feeling more optimistic about the future of bison ranching." Return of the "Great Shaggies" Leonard Chopp and I agreed that there is much to celebrate about the return of the great shaggies to North American plains. Bison have been such an integral part of our history. They sustained native populations for centuries.

When I asked Chopp whether the correct term is bison or buffalo, he said bison. What we call the North American buffalo is not a true buffalo. Its closest relative is the European bison or wisent and the Canadian woods bison not the buffalo of Asia or Africa even though the words bison and buffalo are commonly interchanged.

It was through the efforts of far-sighted conservationists that saved the bison from extinction in Europe and North America. Thanks to the diligence and perseverance of dedicated bison ranchers who are enthusiastic champions of these majestic animals, bison will not be driven to the point of extinction again.  Ted Turner Type "Ted Turner bison meat" into a search engine to read about the media mogul's love affair with bison. He buys up land, enlarges herds and builds restaurants to feature bison meat. The website www.bisoncentral.com has five bison cookbooks for sale. The Winnipeg public library system has The Buffalo Cookbook: The low-fat solution to eating red meat by Ruth Mossok Johnston. www.veganhealth.org/b12/intro details the need for Vitamin B12 and how vegans can get it.

Sidebar: Mythology and Symbolism of Bison For those who have the eyes to see and the ears to hear, the natural world and the animals within it speak to us everyday through their innate characteristics.Before the settlers came to North America, aboriginal people understood that their relationship to bison and other animals was more than a physical one. Itinvolveda mystical side as well.

Bison...The Great Ones...

According to Ted Andrews author, lecturer, teacher and student in metaphysical and spiritual fields there are many medicinepowers within creatures great and small. Bison are among the great ones.In his book Animal Speak, bison are a symbol of sacred life and abundance.

Andrews describes the myth of White Buffalo woman appearing in a white buffalo robe and carrying a pipe. She showed the Lakota how all things are connected. Near the end of the story, she rolled upon the earth and became a white buffalo calf. After she disappeared, great herds of buffalo appeared around all the Indian camps. Part of her message was that bison/buffalo symbolize abundance. By learning how to unite the physical and spiritual aspects of life, she taught, all will be provided without struggle. By nature, bison usually follow the easiest path, Andrews writes. When we join the right action with prayer, the path is usually less challenging. The bison have massive heads, humped shoulders and an almost exaggerated appearance because of their shaggy fur.

The humps are symbolic of stored reservoirs that can be tapped into and reflect that abundance is always available if we open ourselves to receiving it.

This article was originally published in my column Perspectives on Healthy Living in the spring 2008 (Volume 15—Issue 1) of The Aquarian, (www.aquarianonline.com). Permission has been received by publisher Jan Whitley to post articles from The Aquarian on my blog.

Whether you relate to them as a consumer, investor or producer, bison are among natures best and are here to stay. Coralie Darsey-Malloy is a life coach and group leader and public speaker. She can be reached at (204)242-3373 (204) 242-3373 email cdarsey-malloy@mts.net

 For Further Information Leonard Chopp is owner/operator of L/B Bison in Vita, Manitoba. Phone (204) 425-3981 (204) 425-3981 . The Canadian Bison Association can be reached at www.canadianbison.ca or (306) 522-4766 (306) 522-4766 .

The Aquarian is a forum for shedding light on the path to personal fulfillment and the common good. It is published quarterly the first week of March, June, September and December. Annual subscriptions to anywhere in Canada or the U.S. can be had by sending a cheque or money order to the Aquarian office. For subscriptions outside North America contact The Aquarian for prices.

The Aquarian
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R2M 1Y2
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