January 24, 2011
Now Serving Buffalo (Again)
By David Draper
In the virtual pages of The New York Times, I came across this article about the rising popularity of buffalo meat. In the seemingly cyclical world of food trends, this story comes around every few years, touting buffalo meat as a healthy, sustainable—albeit pricey—alternative to beef. While I haven’t eaten buffalo enough times to form a strong opinion, I’m not surprised about its newfound (again) popularity among an American public obsessed with all things food.
From the Times:
“What happened, producers and retailers say, is that the buffalo, the great ruminant of the Plains—once endangered, now raised on ranches by the tens of thousands—has thundered into an era of growing buyer concern about where food comes from, what an animal dined on and how it all affects the planet.
Trendsetting consumers and restaurants on the East and West Coasts caught on. Grass-fed, sustainable and locally grown, obscure concepts to most people 15 years ago or so when the buffalo meat market first emerged, became buzzwords of the foodie culture. Nutritional bean counters, obsessing over lipid fats and omegas, found in buffalo a meat they could love.
“‘For the last two years, it’s been one of the fastest-growing categories in our meat department,’ said Theo Weening, the global meat coordinator for Whole Foods Market, one of the nation’s largest retailers of buffalo at its chain of stores.”
We have a few small-scale buffalo operations nearby, and I’ll admit I feel a tinge of something akin to sadness when I see the iconic beasts ruminating behind a barbed-wire fence. This, along with the fact I can’t afford buffalo meat on my freelance budget, makes me a bit ambivalent about all the hype. But I’d like to hear your opinion? Have you tried buffalo, and if so, what do you think?