As sustainable food practices continue to shift closer to the norm, Wild Idea Buffalo Co. earns bragging rights for being one of the country’s first and only commercial ranches to offer humanely harvested meat from entirely grass-fed, free-roaming buffalo.
Based in the Great Plains of South Dakota, Wild Idea was founded more than a decade ago by Dan O’Brien, a wildlife biologist and one of the country’s preeminent falconers for whom land preservation has always been a priority. To restore the fast-depleting grasslands and strengthen the health of the prairie’s ecosystem, while also maintaining a thriving business, O’Brien focused on buffalo meat as an alternative to beef and its stronghold on the industrialized food system.
Buffalo in general is arguably a healthier meat option than beef, chicken, and even fish, due to its high-protein, low-fat content, but Wild Idea’s free-roaming herds, in particular, are 100-percent grass-fed as well as hormone- and antibiotic-free, delivering 3.5 times more omega-3 fatty acids than most grain-fed bison.
The ranch’s method of humane field harvesting stands out as a unique practice as well. A mobile harvester carrying a sharp shooter drives into the fields, where the buffalo are then killed in their natural habitat. Besides being kinder to the animal, field harvesting also yields a better product, as the stress that animals tend to experience at conventional slaughterhouses has been known to have adverse effects on meat quality.
Adding to its range of steaks and ground meat, sausages, ribs, flavored jerkies, and bones for stocks, the company just rolled out a new lineup of pre-marinated steaks for fast grilling, as well as Polish sausages and hot dogs, with new jerky flavors on the way in mid-July.