Day 348–Farmer Spotlight–Carolina Bison

English: Bison bison. Original caption: "...

While I like to think I have a creative brain, some things are difficult for me to envision. Take clowns for example. I can’t imagine them NOT being creepy. likewise, I have a hard time imagining a fall without football. Or Lindsay Lohan without drama. Add to this my difficulty imagining the western North Carolina mountains and foothills teeming with bison. Well, that’s not quite the same as Lilo without the po-po following her, but still. Bison?

Yet, it is apparently true. At one point, millions of American Bison roamed the plains of what is now the United States. I’m not sure they ever called North Carolina home, but that is changing quickly. Several farmers in North Carolina are raising bison as a healthy alternative to beef. Carolina Bison in Asheville is one such business. The business began in 1985, when founder Dr. Frank King noticed that his patients who ate a diet of grass-fed bison noticed substantial health improvements. And so, a business was born!

Why did bison offer those benefits? Well, bison has less fat than beef (almost on par with chicken) and an extremely high amount of digestible protein. So, you get the taste of grass-fed beef with the health effects of eating white meat.

Carolina Bison offers grass-fed, steroid-free and antibiotic-free bison in the form of steaks, ground meat, roasts and stew beef. Since Asheville is a good 5 hours from Cary, I’m going to try the mail order service and see how that works. In the meantime, at least one North Carolina farm is selling bison at our farmer’s market, but I don’t know much about their protocol. We did pick up a pound to try this weekend as burgers for our famished selves after the 2012 Reindeer Romp 5K this Saturday!

For information about Carolina Bison, click HERE! For anyone in NC, they will offer ranch tours in the spring and I definitely want in on that! Maybe it will help with my visualization issue!

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Day 8–Starting Week 2–Budget and Menu

English: Green, yellow and red bell peppers fr...

I am terrible with budgets. But, our family needs to budget for necessities and yours probably does, too. Our goal is to eat sustainable and/or locally produced food for 75% of our meals on $100 per week. We went over last week (darn you, New Years Eve :-)), but I rationalized that with a holiday dinner. So, how about this week? Here is how we spent our food budget in preparation for week 2:

  • Mae Farm meats (chicken, bacon, eggs):          $20.64
  • Heaven on Earth organics (turnips w/greens, dino kale, green peppers, tomatoes, onions):          $20.00
  • Trader Joes (tortillas, sour cream, cheese, oranges, frozen fruit):          $26.61
  • Lowes Foods (yogurt, green split peas, Kosher salt, can of pumpkin): 10.18
  • Whole Foods (ground bison, green lentils): $24.67

Total:  $102.10 (we are almost there!)

So, what are we eating for that? Here is our menu for the week:

  • Sunday–Roast chicken, turnips 2 ways (mashed and greens w/bacon)
  • Monday–Bison, green lentil and pumpkin chili, sour cream corn muffins (local corn meal left from last week)
  • Tuesday–chicken quesadillas (using leftover roast chicken), quinoa
  • Wednesday–leftover chili and corn muffins
  • Thursday–green split pea soup, homemade biscuits
  • Friday–leftovers
  • Saturday–out; extended family holiday dinner @ restaurant

Breakfasts are oatmeal or pumpkin muffins with fruit smoothies.

Lunches are either leftovers or sandwiches and fruit

I’m proud of how we have done so far and look forward to trying out a few new recipes (the bison chili especially!). At this point, we are eating at approximately 60% organic or local/sustainable food. This next week should increase that a bit. Now, can we keep this up? That is a challenge!