Unsolicited Endorsement: Bison jerky

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by Eric Ginsburg

Beef jerky is a waste of time.

I don’t say that as someone who spent eight years as a vegetarian, but as someone who has experienced a miraculous thing called bison jerky.

The idea of reverting to beef jerky, in any form, after savoring the magnificence of the Wisconsin Bison Company is unbearable. The notion would be akin to consuming Manichewitz wine after a tour of vineyards in Bourdeaux — it just isn’t done.

Bison jerky came to my attention through a combination of coincidences and accidents. Outside Green Bay on a work trip a few months ago, my girlfriend stopped to take a picture of grazing buffalo. After noticing a sign for meat products inside, she circled back to the family farm in Seymour later that day. Inside looking through the products for something that would travel home well, she discovered the Wisconsin Bison Company’s jerky.

Cured with salt, sugar and spices and containing a little onion and garlic powder, this bison jerky tastes good enough that it should be savored like expensive chocolate. I would tear small pieces off the lean sheets of dried meat, sometimes inhaling its aroma for a while like a wine snob and then letting it sit in my mouth, as if it would melt.

We really tried to make the bison jerky last, only allowing ourselves to indulge in a small amount at a time considering how finite a luxury it was. Our hearts leapt when her work planned to send her back to the area, but when the plans were nixed, I started looking elsewhere.

I found Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm in Roxboro, NC, which claims to cover Greensboro and the Triangle. But after filling out an order form for seemingly overpriced bison jerky online and calling twice during normal business hours to no avail, I started to surrender to the notion that the delicacy is out of reach.

via Wisconsin Bison Co.
via Wisconsin Bison Co.

There are online options that will ship nationally from places like northstarbison.com, which sells a four-ounce pack seasoned with raw honey and sea salt for $10, but there’s a $15 order surcharge and you’d need to ship it refrigerated. The cheapest choice from the Buffalo Guys (in Wyoming) is $43 for 12 ounces before shipping costs — not bad, but journalism doesn’t pay that well.

Meanwhile, Carolina Bison in Asheville doesn’t offer jerky (at least not on its website) and there’s no bison at the Beef Jerky Outlet in Concord, NC.

I’ve considered driving out to Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm, and even briefly fantasized about a brewery-based trip to Green Bay with a detour west to Seymour. It really does taste that incredible.