Growing up on a 400-acre dairy farm in the eastern part of South Dakota fifty years ago, I thought I had a clear understanding of where our food came from. On our farm, half of our acreage was for grazing and the other half was for farming. My siblings and I all participated in chores, including gathering the forty head of cows grazing in the pasture to bring them into the barn for milking. A lot has changed since then.
Today, there are very few outdoor dairy cows. The outdoor dairy cows I see today are painted on semi-trucks that move up and down the highways, complete with a bell, green grass and white daisies. I’m sure you’ve seen them too. Perhaps that image gives us a sense of security of how our food is raised. And, because most of us often have too much on our plates we accept it as hopeful truth, but there is no hope in those false truths.
Factory farms have replaced the small farms of the past. Instead of grazing animals, we pour concrete pads, encase them in tin, add ventilation systems, fill them with animals and feed them an unnatural diet to produce mass quantities of food, so we can eat more, faster. It is an unsustainable food system that is unhealthy for us, unhealthy for the animals, and unhealthy for the planet.
This is true of most protein production and it is also true of crop production. Those mass GMO, monoculture corn fields you see growing that may look beautiful, have replaced a naturally rich, biodiverse landscape to grow feed for animals in confinement, which is subsidized through your tax dollars.
However, this is NOT true of all meat or food production, including your bison meat that comes from Wild Idea Buffalo Company (FYI reminder: 92% of bison that are raised for food are finished in the cattle feed-lot model). As the fear and awareness of how and where our food comes from rises, and as industrialized meat plants are closed around the country, we wanted to share with you the how, why and where the bison meat products you purchase from us come from.
Our bison graze 365 days a year over large landscapes. Our Cheyenne River Ranch has 34,000 acres of prairie grasslands, giving each animal over 34 acres each to graze. We balance their grazing acreage with other wildlife species and also manage the land for grass health and drought.
Our large landscape grazing model give our bison room to roam, so they can be and behave like real bison, much like they did over 200 years ago. They are given love in life and dignity in death when they are humanely field harvested in the pastures where they graze. A state inspector is observing and testing throughout the field harvest process.
Our field harvest takes a whole separate crew, but we feel very strongly that it is the only way to respectfully take the life of an animal and the only way to harvest it for food; without fear and without high levels of cortisol, which can greatly affect the quality of the end product.
The carcasses are then taken to our small, state-inspected plant, where the carcasses are cut into fine steaks, roast and ground meat products, by artisan meat cutters.
As many of you have experienced, we have a first-rate customer service team that is always willing to answer your questions and guide you through our products. And our shipping team packs your orders with great care and appropriate coolant to ensure a successful delivery.
This year, we plan to harvest 900 animals for the food supply chain. We take great care from pasture to package. We also appreciate those of you who take great care in your food purchases. Much like our process, we realize your process in being a conscientious modern day, hunter-gatherer takes extra care and time. But… as time ticks on, many are realizing the importance of that care.
This, of course, does not mean that we are not susceptible to the current coronavirus pandemic. But, we can assure you that in addition to our “Standard Operating Procedures”, which include safety and sanitation, we are taking extra precautions in producing a product that you can feel good about eating and that offers positive ramifications to our overall environmental health and human health.
For detailed information on our COVID-19 response go here.