Blogs

March 9, 2018

Howdy! It's Been Awhile. 

We wanted to share with you a little of what’s been going on around here…

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently ran a hit 4 part series called "The Future of Food" highlighting grass-fed meats & sustainable production models. 
We were honored to be in the spotlight for the second installment!
Click on the link below to check it out. It’s a good article that shoots straight.

http://www.startribune.com/sustain-meat/457733503/

We've been growing!
In addition to our 100% grass-fed and finished bison, we now also harvest and process grass-fed beef, farm-raised Rocky Mountain elk, soy-free chicken, soy-free turkey, pastured pork, grass-fed rabbit, grass-fed lamb and grass-fed goat. Anything we put our label on must meet our Northstar standard ensuring they are raised and processed with the same substantial levels of care and respect as our bison. We’re constantly evaluating our external farmer and rancher relationships to ensure each of our goals and philosophies still align. We’re proud to be able to help support these local ag families who are doing things the right way but have a hard time finding consumers who value their efforts. We’re now a one-stop-shop for a wide selection of Northstar-approved,
deeply nourishing meats.

Liquid Gold.
A natural byproduct of our ranch is the most wholesome, respected, nourishing proteins on the planet. Our broth is as uniquely different as we are. We make it in small batches and cook it for 72 hrs with double the amount of bones and tendons. The result: a thick, concentrated gelatin broth chock full of nourishment.
It’s liquid vitamins, perfect for cold and flu season!

This week only:
Buy 1 Get 1 Bone Broth Special!
Bison, Beef & Turkey
Sorry, we’re sold out of our chicken broth for the season!

Shop Nourishing Bone Broths

Sale ends at midnight on Sunday, March 18.
Offer not valid for wholesale accounts.

Our Steadfast Vision.
Some things never change, like our vision. And the majestic bison. Over the course of time, the American Bison built our soils and shape our country’s landscapes. Over the past hundred years, modern agriculture has inadvertently degraded our most valuable resource: Soil. We are committed to regenerating our most valuable resource back to the healthy, vibrant, diverse ecosystem it once was - by raising bison as nature intended. Through the support of consumers like yourself and the efforts of our team in every corner of our company, our most core mission can be realized; 
Deeply nourishing people, animals and creation.

If you’ve enjoyed this letter, you’ll enjoy our weekly emails that share more

stories of hope, updates and exclusive promotions.

We appreciate you and would welcome the opportunity to serve you again.

Sean, Mary & the Northstar Tribe


March 6, 2018

Stinkin' Wildlife!

I’ll have you know my passion is for wild places & wild things, both of which are centered around wildlife. I love to hunt. Immersing myself in nature for extended periods of time to divest myself of the marauding demands of modernism while interacting with wildlife on their terms to feed my family, is difficult to put into words. 
Recently, my brother in-law, a few of my best buddies from all corners of the country and I converged in western Kansas for a long-anticipated whitetail deer hunt. It was sure to be filled with great camaraderie and the traditional deer camp fare, which is almost certain to never be traditional or even the same from year to year. Taking turns, each guy’s favorite, newest, fondest, wildest recipes of fresh shrimp, venison, bison, elk, etc, are shared around the table after long days afield. My good friend Jeff, from NC, happened into Farmer Alan in western KS over a decade ago and makes the 23 hr trek every December for the same reasons as I: plentiful game and wide open spaces. 
A simple, perfect respite.

However, as I’d soon find out, we’d have an interesting complex.

I grew up hunting around the home ranch here in NW Wisconsin. We hunt big-bodied, big-woods whitetails with relatively limited access to grain crops due to our harsher northern climate. Our place is purely native vegetation and, as a result, the game is mild and sweet tasting. I’ve also skinned, cleaned and cut a passel of our home-raised bison in my days on the processing floor. 

Our bison meat is succulent and a pleasure to work with. As I grew older, I spread my wings and soared west with my dreams to the high plains and Rockies of Northern New Mexico. Another no-place-for-grain climate. We’d hunt those mountains hard, eventually taking a deer, elk or antelope. The "sweet smell of success" has always been in reference to the mild, tender, nutritionally-dense protein. We sometimes actually slice off a chunk of lean, clean, tender backstrap to shave thin and enjoy raw in celebration of the pounds and pounds of amazing primal protein we’d just been blessed with.

On the 3rd morning of our Kansas "Bro hunt", I was lucky enough to take a mature buck I’d glimpsed at dusk on day 1. As he fed his way out of the cut milo field toward the river bottom, I cut the distance and was able to make a perfect shot. In that bittersweet moment, I rushed over to admire the majestic animal and pay my respects. As I neared, that old familiar "sweet smell of success" was awkwardly pungent. Regardless, I responsibly began the cleaning process. That nagging odor lingered in my nostrils. A buck harvested cleanly with a single, well placed bullet, in single digits should smell mild and slightly sweet. Farmer Alan arrived to congratulate me on my harvest and admire the deer. 

He stood aside with a smirk across his lips, undoubtedly feeling a sense of satisfaction that the harvest of this animal meant a few extra bushels of grain in the bin next year and a bushel basket of sausage for the freezer. I rattled off a comment thinking the buck possibly had a systemic infection or an injury abscess causing the stench. 
Farmer Alan piped up,  "Don’t they all smell like that? That’s just how deer smell, isn’t it?" 

We had a simple ‘comparing of notes’ session, better understanding the difference in our experiences.

Inside, I was flabbergasted. 
A big, healthy buck, harvested cleanly, hosting an odor akin to acid reflux. 
How is this possible? I was perplexed and continued to mull it over.

I hopped in the truck midmorning to run to town quick for a bag of ice, scanning the incredibly expansive crop land wondering what it would have felt like 200 years ago with no infrastructure and a million bison roaming 
when it hit me like freight train: 
The environment has changed and therefor my paradigm must also… 
These deer now live in a proverbial free-range feed lot.

Milo, corn, millet, soybeans, wheat for as far as the eye can see. 
This is the ‘Breadbasket of America’. 
This buck did have systemic issues… a surviving case of acidosis. 
His entire diet was focused around unlimited access to grain.

Up to this point, I revered all wild game as superior. 
It’s not so simple anymore. The waters have been muddied.

The vast majority of the landscapes in our country have been invaded by the mighty plow and planter, pesticides and herbicides, fertilizer and fossil fuels. 17 hours of the 18 hour drive from our ranch in northern Wisconsin to my brother in-law’s ranch in northern New Mexico is now solid row cropping.

The drive from here to western South Dakota, "the heart of buffalo country" used to be mostly native prairie ranch land, now it’s mostly grain fields. Crops are creeping into every corner of our country. This, of course, affects the health of our soils and what we see on our grocer’s shelves but also the wildlife that inhabit it and, in turn, the animals harvested by those of us who hunt for food.

Live well this week,

Sean and the Northstar Tribe


February 20, 2018

Share Us.

I just got off the phone with Carly, an ecstatic new customer that found us through a friend’s referral. Often, we have the privilege of having a conversation like this with a new customer that stumbles upon us after searching for a trusted, wholesome protein source for a year, a decade, or more.

They’re thoroughly delighted, as are we, that we’ve found eachother.

"Man, I wished I’d found you guys sooner. I’ve been dealing with _______ for so long. I’m so excited that I can finally eat protein and feel good again!"

As you can imagine, hypersensitivities to proteins are almost as miserable as being allergic to the sun. You can hardly eat anything without reacting or feeling rotten. "Protein hypersensitivity" is in the same category as gluten intolerance. Its increasingly affecting far more people than we could have ever imagined.

Hypersensitivities are caused by overexposure to certain food elements such as gluten (wheat), soy or corn that aren’t digested completely resulting in byproducts getting into the bloodstream. When nearly everything you eat has gluten, soy or corn derivatives (corn syrup, corn starch, etc.), you slowly chisel away at your body’s tolerances until it’s had enough and reacts. Most doctors aren’t currently acknowledging how an animal’s diet can affect one’s ability to consume certain proteins, rather, they’re laying blame on the species instead of the animal’s diet. Believe it or not, your likely not allergic to beef, or bison, or ________, you’re more likely to be allergic to the animal’s feed toxins stored in it’s fats, collagen (joints), marrow and organs. Studies are now actually detecting glyphosate (a herbicide) in collagen and marrow.

It’s no wonder most of us are a mess.

"I don’t know what you guys do differently but I can only eat your meat."

We are regularly receiving feedback from folks saying how finding us has literally changed their life. We aren’t doing anything fancy.

We’re doing as nature intended.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have found us already, we’d appreciate you sharing uswith your friends and family. The quality and diversity of our offerings is rare and for some, it’s about a whole lot more than saving a species or restoring land and wildlife,

it’s about feeling good, feeling whole, feeling human again.

And for some, it’s been a long, long time.

Thank you in advance from the bottom of our hearts and from those who can’t say thank you, yet.

Live well this week,

Sean and the Northstar Tribe


January 30, 2018
From Hide to Heart

The taking of an animal’s life is something significant. Something we never want to minimize or dodge responsibility from. Acknowledging that an animal gave it’s life so that we may continue to thrive is appropriate.

We harvest and utilize each and every part possible so as to honor and dignify the animal as well as nourish our bodies and our furry companions.

Our field harvest process swiftly renders the animal unconscious.But ourHide to Heart thought process takes dignity one step further. 100% of every available part of every animal is utilized. 

The list below will give you a better understanding of what Hide to Heartactually means and it’s level of significance here at Northstar. Because we do our own processing, we have full control over what gets harvested, (Everything. Most places aren’t willing to save many parts of the animal due to time efficiencies,) as well as the amount of care and cleanliness those parts are harvested with.

Hide: Leather products (purses, belts, wallets, shoes), Dog Chews, Rugs, Blankets
Skull: Taxidermy, Home Decor
Bones: Bone Broth, Raw and Smoked Dog Chews, Pet Food, Bone Marrow
Tendons: Bone Broth, Dog Chews
Meat: Retail Steaks, Roasts, Grinds, Sausages, Jerky, and Pet Blends
Tongue: Retail
Spleen: Retail, Pet Food Ingredient
Pancreas: Retail
Adrenals: Retail
Thymus: Retail
Testicles: Retail
Pizzle: Smoked Bully Sticks (Pet Chews)
Tripe (stomach): Pet Food
Stomach contents: Composted for fertilizer
Lungs: Pet Food
Trachea: Pet Food
Fat: Retail
Tail: Retail
Blood: Retail, Composted for fertilizer (high in nitrogen)
Caul Fat (stomach lining): Retail
Liver: Retail, Pet Food Ingredient 
Kidneys: Retail, Pet Food Ingredient 
Heart: Retail, Pet Food Ingredient

Hide to Heart maximizes the animal to it’s fullest extent, ensuring the animal’s entire bounty reaches as far as possible, blessing as many as possible.

And that nothing goes to waste.

I challenge you to consider adding something unique to your next order.

A balanced consumer is a conscious consumer.
Plus, you may find something you never knew your body needed.

Live well this week,

Sean & the Northstar Bison Tribe


January 9, 2018

New Year. New You.

So cliche.

Of course it’s a new year but what does a new you look like? New wardrobe? 20 pounds less?

New car? Bigger house?

Those are all good things in and of themselves but do they really mean a newyou?
What value are our lives without a trail of legacy transcending our existence?
Maybe the new you identifies one person to uplift and inspire this month?
And someone else the following month? And the next?

The media drives home the message of ‘being all things to all people’. That’s impossible.

‘All things to all people’ leaves you scattered, drained, irrelevant and then discarded.
I believe our greatest human power this side of heaven is seeing ‘possibility’ inside of others, what they can’t see inside themselves.

‘If it matters to one...’ makes a difference.
2018 is going to be pivotal for someone. That’s a new you.

Live well this week,
Sean & the Northstar Bison Tribe
 

P.S. This photo is of my younger sister. She is the skin version of this blog. At 28 yrs old, her legacy of inspiration to those around her already amounts to a lifetime or two of impact. Marielle is our Land and Livestock Manager and is responsible for a few thousand acres, a couple thousand head of bison, our ranch team and numerous other external relationships. In addition, she has served on many boards from member to president and has spoken all over the U.S. and Canada yet she makes time for loving and serving other people, no matter who you are or where you come from. Her words of encouragement, enthusiasm for life and tender heart is evident. She is special. And I am proud to call her my sister. Though she is younger than I, I look up to her example. Marielle, you inspire me.

 

I realize this blog email has absolutely nothing to do with bison meat or food in general for that matter. I believe there are other things in life that also greatly contribute to our health and success in life besides eating well. The position of our 'hearts' being one of them.


December 26, 2017

The Impact Journal

We’ve been supplying a company called EPIC with 100% grass-fed bison
for their various snack products (which are excellent by the way) for 3 or 4
years now and have had the privilege of a front row seat in watching them
grow. EPIC has become a driving force, a catalyst, in the burgeoning the(delete)
‘Food Revolution’ as it’s being deemed.

Modern Ag has sunk to a new low over the past decade, producing food
that when analyzed can barely be regarded as such. 

In fact, a recent study was done on an orange and it contained 0% vitamin C. I repeat, zero percent. How does that happen? Through genetic modification to produce a
faster growing/maturing fruit without regard for nutrient density. You see, an orange’s value in the marketplace is not based upon its nutritional value. Not all oranges are equal.

The orange is the example in this case but this issue is widespread and
epidemic in all sectors of agriculture. Money is on the line so companies
are willing to cheat, lie and steal in order to hold market share through
keeping consumers distracted and uninformed.

Monoculture, chemicals and confinement is the sum of our modern food production system. EPIC has been tenacious about swimming upstream, fighting for truth and honesty. For their supply chain, they’ve sought old-fashioned, ‘front-lines’ agriculture families still producing food the way our ancestors did. The patient way.

EPIC just released their first edition Impact Journal which highlights the
efforts and accomplishments of a handful farmers and ranchers who’ve
gone above and beyond. The stories are inspiring and informative. There
are plenty of challenges that lie ahead but none that can’t be overcome
with additional determination and consumer support. As a young lady who’s a 3rd generation turkey farmer in California states out in the journal;

"...I think it’s a cause worth fighting for. After all, it’s your food."

The journal is well written, extremely enlightening, highly thought-provoking, perspective challenging and incredibly inspiring. This is a great
piece for the coffee table or breakfast bar. 

Put it where guests will pick it up to scan through it, you’ll want them to! To get your hands on a copy of your own, click here.

Live well this week,
Sean & the Northstar Bison Tribe


December 12, 2017
Grass-fed Is King

Science says 100% grass-fed & finished meats are the Nutritional King; yielding up to 4X more vitamin E, 5X more cancer-fighting CLA, 3X the amount of heart-friendly omega-3s and 2X as much beta-carotene. 

100% grass-fed meats also have less calories, less total fat, and less saturated fat than grain-fed and even organic meats. You see, the term "organic" in itself does not mean 100% grass-fed or even pasture raised. 

Organic only means that the animal was not fed GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) grain, but rather organic grain which can still produce high amounts of artery-clogging omega-6 fat.

A word of caution when buying "grass-fed". The USDA has excused themselves from regulating that definition. The term "grass-fed" doesn’t mean 100% anymore.

100% grass-fed means just that; 
100% grass-fed, 100% grass-finished, 100% of the time.

As it pertains to bison, there is no other protein on the face of the earth that is cleaner and more nutrient dense than 100% grass-fed and finished bison meat. 100% grass-fed and finished bison is leagues ahead of chicken on a nutritional panel.

Our region of the country produces sweet tasting, rich, cool season grasses which transfer directly into the fine eating experience that our meats provide. 

We have many customers that live in the heart of "buffalo country" that order from us. We ask, "Why would you order from us when xxx ranch is just up the road?" The response is always: "Because your meats taste better."

Why would we miss an opportunity to "light up" our taste buds, 
to optimize our bodies, 
to strengthen our immune systems, 
to renew our minds, 
to celebrate the life of a dignified animal, 
to contribute to the restoration of prairie ecosystems, 
to support small ranching families doing it right, 
to vote for our National Mammal; the American Bison, 
to withhold your support of broken, destructive, detrimental production systems?

What’s not to love about consuming 100% grass-fed bison?!

Live well this week,
Sean and the Northstar Bison Tribe


November 28, 2017
It All Began With A Dream

Northstar Bison was founded in 1994, but began long before that.

Lee Graese, founder, and co-owner with his wife Mary, has had a fascination with this majestic animal since early boyhood. Lee read countless books about the old west and how bison was an integral part of every facet of life on the prairie. Lee's fascination eventually grew into a dream... a dream to one day own bison. 
Lee's dream came to life in the early '90s when he and Mary purchased a bison heifer calf and a 2-year-old bison bull from Blue Mounds State Park insouthwestern Minnesota. However, Lee didn't realize where his dream would take him and his family.
Lee and Mary have backgrounds in powerlifting (Lee actually set an American Record in the deadlift in 1983 while being instrumental in starting the American Drug-Free Powerlifting Association, combating the rampant steroid use of the day), dietetics, health clubs, as well as coaching and training professional athletes.
Shortly after purchasing their first two animals, Lee and Mary began to understand the nourishing benefits bison meat, particularly when they're raised on their native diet, in their natural habitat. Something that was lacking in the diets of many high-level athletes.

Mary began to reach out to friends and family, letting them know about this incredibly nourishing protein. Advance orders were placed and the fall of 1997 yielded our first bison ready for harvest. 

Our deep, utmost respect and desire to provide an honorable harvest to further dignify the life of our first born calf, birthed our very first field harvest. 
The meat was processed and orders were filled. Rave reviews followed which spurred us to continue the journey.

I was in 2nd grade when we bought our first 2 bison. Over the next few years, Mom, Dad, my sisters and I spent most of our waking moments (while we weren't in school) building fence, making hay, filling water tanks, thawing frozen water tanks, rolling out hay bales, fixing fence, hand-cutting invasive weeds, or just sitting with the bison.

Since those early days, a lot has changed. And a lot hasn't changed. Our focus and principles around deeply nourishing our friends and family by raising these animals as nature intended while maintaining our respectful, zero-stress field harvest.

Dad's dream has grown to encompass thousands of acres of rolling grasslands, a couple thousand roaming bison, several additional ranching families, our own processing plants, as well as a growing team with a continued deep commitment toward our foundational principles of raising the most nourishing proteins nature can provide

Dream big. You never know who your dreams might bless.

Live well this week,
Sean and the Northstar Tribe


November 14, 2017
The Impact of Bison at Belwin Conservancy.

"I can't even describe how incorporating bison have enhanced the landscape here. The quality and maturation of our prairie has been improved by 4x. The balance and abundance of insects, wildlife, wildflowers and grasses here is second to none in the country. 

Simultaneously, our management energy and costs have plummeted. All
thanks to the bison." - Justin Sykora, Land Manager @ Belwin Nature Conservancy of Afton, MN

Northstar and Belwin joined forces in 2008 in an effort to help the nature conservancy improve their degrading grasslands which, at that time, were being managed through the common practice of rest, burning and chemical treatment. 

They were losing the battle and the landscape was suffering greatly. Desertification (soil surface losing cover through receding vegetation), loss of native plant species diversity, invasion of non-native species demanding control through chemical intervention, minimal wildlife and insect prosperity and the list goes on.

Something had to change...

Belwin made the bold move to go against the modern, conventional grain (no pun intended but I'll take it!) to introduce bison back onto the Minnesota prairie under the management of Steve Hobbs. 

Steve contacted us here at Northstar to see about working out a mutual agreement to provide bison for their prairie while under the watchful eyes of University of Minnesota students to observe interaction and grazing behavior. 

A mutually beneficial deal was struck and bison were slated for delivery in June. Justin Sykora was aghast at the decision. Justin recalls phoning the Conservancy to question the decision to essentially "flush all the years of management effort down the drain by introducing such destructive beasts." 

Justin, admittedly thankful today, couldn't have been more wrong. 

The bison's positive interaction with the landscape is now being supported by science (imagine that). 
The fairly recent discovery of the phenomena of Mycorrhizal Fungi supports the challenges Belwin faced in managing prairie. (Bear with me as I nerd out a little here but it's imperative to understand what is happening beneath our feet.)

Mycorrhizal Fungi is essentially a "nutrient subway station" in the soil, transferring nutrients for miles to plants that need it, when they need it. There are now recorded "colonies" of fungi that encompass 20,000 acres or more! If a plant asks for copper on one side of the ranch, Mycorrhizal will hunt it down and shoot it over.

Nature is designed to work in ways we can't even comprehend! Tillage & chemicals destroy Mycorrhizal Fungi. Bison have a bacteria ingredient in their saliva that "plants" Mycorrhizal Fungi as they graze.

The decibels of the insects resonating from the bison pasture now drowns out the hum of I94 a 1⁄4 mile north. Wildflowers are prolific. Hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes and other predators hunt rodents the bison herd stirs up day and night. Whitetail deer frequent the pasture feasting on lush legume regrowth in the far corners of the pasture. Wild turkeys cruise through gobbling up protein-rich grasshoppers and crickets. Songbirds perch on the backs of the bison as they graze picking off insects buzzing by. 

The bison? They're feasting on this diverse salad bar, packing on pounds of muscle mass and bone density to, in turn, provide people with the most nourishing food on the planet. 

That's the cycle of life on the prairie. But it all starts with the bison. And it all ends with the bison. 

If we don't consume bison, bison don't have an economic provision to outcompete the cornfield across the fence at Belwin.

Eating bison saves prairie ecosystems.
Eating bison can also save your life.

Some of the feedback letters we receive from customers relaying the impact that incorporating 100% grass-fed bison into their lifestyle is enough to choke up a grown man. 

The impact is life-changing. Ailments that people have dealt with their whole lives "magically" disappearing after committing to consuming clean, healing, 100% grass-fed and finished bison protein.

To be able to positively impact your own life while also supporting this magnitude of impact in places like Belwin's prairie is incredible.

I challenge you to pick 1 morning this week to go out of your way to park in an obscure location (with your phone on airplane mode) for 15 minutes to ponder what our landscapes would look/feel/sound like with more bison.

It will be medicine for your soul.

Live well this week,
Sean and the Northstar Tribe

Belwin is membership supported. If you'd like to become a member of the conservancy to explore and support the great things going at Belwin, click here.


July, 2017

Eat like your life depends upon it.

The statement is slightly ridiculous. Of course your life depends upon eating. But how you view that statement can alter your eating habits.

The value of what you put into your body is exactly what you can expect out of your body. Just as we monitor our pastures to ensure that every single bite that our animals are taking is as nutrient rich as nature desires it to be, you should be considering every calorie that you consume. We don’t count calories. Calories can be dangerously deceiving.

Let’s break this concept down in simple terms.

100% Grass-fed Bison takes 1.5 times longer to reach harvest maturity than 100% Grass-fed Beef.

100% Grass-fed Bison takes 5 times longer to reach harvest maturity than Pastured Pork.

100% Grass-fed Bison takes 12 times longer to to reach harvest maturity than Pastured Chicken.

Which one would you expect to more nutritionally dense?

Which one should provide the most fuel.


7.18.2017

 Who cares.

We regularly have the great pleasure of getting into extended phone conversations with folks about raising standards, animal diets, nutrition and labeling. If there has been a significant, common thread over the past 20 years in this business it’s that there are major misconceptions and misunderstandings in the quagmire of terminology in the animal protein world. Good marketing has almost debilitated folks from making an educated decision on their own. How many terms are used is very deceptive and difficult for consumers to decipher and understand. Whether you buy from Northstar, a local grocer or a farm down the road, make sure the next time you’re about to place a package of healthful protein in your cart, it is what you think it is.

Organic

Most shoppers rightfully glance at a label and are satisfied with their purchase when they see it says “Certified Organic”. Organic is an excellent filter to use for fruits and vegetables but is fairly meaningless in the animal protein world. True, while it will be free from pesticides, herbicides, GMO feeds, artificial hormones and antibiotics, it is also likely free of critical nutrients such as healthy fats, CLA, vitamins and minerals due to it’s diet. Science says animals that eat lots of grass and grow slower are nutritionally superior. Nearly all certified Organic meats are raised in a small lot on an organically certified grain diet. This production model produces a “premium” meat at a low cost, similar to the conventional steer-stuffer system, but with an added “halo” to capture a better price point. Some marketers will take full advantage of “the letter of the law” which almost always has loop holes and opportunities to capture the upside without the actual production cost in doing so. It’s good for profits therefore it’s good for business and besides, most consumers will probably never know the difference anyway.

All Natural

"All Natural", aka “grain-fed”, merely means that the animal was living and breathing, not a robot. "Anything goes" on the farm under the term "All Natural". This term does exclude food coloring and other additives from the post-harvest processing side (yes, many companies will add food coloring or certain gasses to the meat to enhance the color profile). Take a drive through parts of Kansas or Nebraska to get a good look at “All Natural”. You’ll want to cry.

Grass-fed

Grass-fed, like anything good, can also be used deceptively. Sly marketers are willing to be “half-true” to capture the greatest price point possible without the cost because “the customer will probably never find out anyway.” The term “Grass-fed” alone leaves room for “Well, it ate a blade of grass that one time a few months back so yeah it’s grass-fed.” Focus on 100% Grass-fed on the product package itself. The label on the product is very important because product labels need to be “approved” by the USDA so any claims on the package must be verified. Make sure 100% grass-fed isn’t just implied with other marketing tools. If it is truly 100% grass-fed, it will be on the label because marketers know it’s what consumers are looking for.). 100% grass-fed means just that; grass-fed, 100% of the time.

100% Grass-Fed is the only protein any consumer would ever want to eat. Nutritionally, it is the richest protein on the planet. Environmentally, it actually heals land and sustains small farms and rural communities. While feedlots cram thousands of head into tight quarters, creating staggering amounts of pollution, and using massive amounts of machinery and fossil fuels to till, plant, harvest, haul and feed those animals all to provide an artery-clogging, disease-causing, fattening product. 100% grass-fed, holistically managed animals are the antithesis of the feedlot production model. Everything that is inherently destructive about feedlots, is inherently regenerative and positive in a 100% grass-fed, holistically managed, pasture-based model. At Northstar, 100% grass-fed is foraging on native plants, invigorating the land to benefit other forms of life both above and below the soil surface, improving water quality & holding capacity, all while building flavorful, highly nutrient-dense protein to nourish consumers. 100% grass-fed animals grow at a slower pace which, in turn, are much healthier due to their low-stress, nature-paced lifestyle which creates a healthier, more nutritious, better tasting protein. Small communities also benefit under a pasture-based production model. It takes stockman to manage animals and the land as compared to equipment and computers in that confinement, steer-stuffer system.  

How your food is raised is just as important to us as the nutritional qualities it carries.

Rest assured, your money is well spent purchasing 100% grass-fed proteins.  

Who cares? You do.

Your vote matters. So does your health.

As a side note, all the same rules apply to dairy. 100% grass-fed dairy right out of the farmer’s bulk tank takes the cake. If that is not an option for you, look for Maple Hill Creamery’s 100% Grass-fed Dairy products in a store near you.

Live well and enjoy your weekend,

Sean and the Northstar Bison Team


8.8.2017

What was once lively and teaming with life now sits hollow and empty - is this "bettering" ourselves?

It was bright and beautiful the other day as I was driving along, taking notice of the farms and fields around the countryside here in wonderful Wisconsin when I was struck by the stark reality of disintegrating buildings. Barns in particular. Each vacant barn representing an extinguished hard-earned lifestyle. One after the next... Eventually, I couldn't help but pull over and start taking photos with each farm I passed.

Most of these barns were built decades ago when farmers milked and ran livestock for a living while raising crops to feed their animals and sell excess grain to the local feed mill. The farm was a thriving place, teaming with life. Children, chickens, cows, calves, cats, crops, cocka-doodle-doos. Sun-up til sun-down busyness. Producing food and goods for their family and neighbors around while making a living as a community.

Now, they stand empty. All were the same, vacant and crumbling. One was in process of being bulldozed. Another pushed into a hole and smoldering. But the earth was in process of reclaiming most of them. A few were yard ornaments, a mere memory of what was. The cow yards have turned from fenced "playgrounds" to overgrown jungles or sterilized cornrows managed with chemicals. Both mom and dad work away from home as the farm sits quietly. Empty. Hollow.

While at home or on the streets, our children search for purpose. For something to do. For something to call their own. For something to be proud of. For them to know they know what it means to work hard, only to see it fail. To know they did their best and learned from it. To be better the next time around. To learn this before it's too late. To know the feeling of mastery. To find what they love. To know what they do not like yet appreciate it, knowing it's an important part of life. To have passion. To watch the sun set on a long day's work, still have a couple hours left to go, yet be excited about sunrise. To know the impact they can truly have on the world around them. And to know what is out of their control.

We're slowly losing something. How did this happen? What has changed? What for? Have we as a society benefited from this drastic shift in our rural culture? The fundamental roots of society? Is there anything more fundamental to life than wholesome food and clean water? Commodity and modern agriculture fit together like a hand in a glove. Mass produce for cheap and ship it around the world faster to beat out the "other guys". Molesting our natural resources for financial gain and while "bettering" ourselves. The fields are still full of growing grain. Every acre being utilized. But for what? Livestock are few and far between.

 We continue down the path of chemical industry breakthrough that allows you to farm more acres, easier, for cheaper, in less time. And for what market? Livestock packed in feedlots? Genetically engineered food for human consumption? It seems indicative of our societal obsession, the race to the bottom. Who can produce the most, the fastest, the cheapest?

It drives innovation. Innovation at the expense of soil health, human health, animal health. Is this what has truly happened? But what about our neighbors? What about our own families? What are we feeding our families? Who raised it? Was it done with care, compassion, respect? Like your grandfather likely did? How do you know? We as a society have taken our food supply for granted. Bigger, faster, cheaper. To beat the other guy.

Is cheaper better? Are empty barns better? More acres, less farmers. Consolidation at an alarming rate. How do we begin the shift back toward agri-culture? How do we keep our farmers producing wholesome food? How do we find purpose and a livelihood that transcends the next generation? Do we have the power to change? To recognize the path we're on and change course?

By in large, farmers will only produce what a consumer asks for. As a consumer, demand better. But what is better? That is best determined on your own, sometimes found by what it is not. Cheaper and easier is rarely better. In fact, cheaper is not cheap. Cheap comes from somewhere, likely your’s or your children's future.

Northstar is passionate about the future of rural farm families of old. We take great pride in supporting our neighbors who are producing wholesome foods to the highest standards. Ones you’d be proud to support. Those fighting for the greater good. Those unwilling to succumb to the short-term rewards of consolidation. A rural grass-roots agri-culture revival is swelling in our country. No longer settling for cheaper but choosing to deeply nourish our minds, bodies, souls and grasslands with food produced as nature intended.

Live well this week,

Sean & The Northstar Bison Team


The International Bison Conference 

We had the terrible misfortune of having to spend the 4th of July week stuck high in the Rockies. Big Sky, Montana languished us with its cool breezes, sights of snow-capped peaks, mountain-fresh streams, lush meadows and plenty of sunshine. The cruel, torturous punishment was almost too much to bear. Is there a sarcastic font somewhere on this computer??

We hope you enjoy a quick photo journey of our family road trip and time at the quincentennial International Bison Conference (IBC)!


Lincoln is ecstatic about heading west! Destination: Big Sky 

Can't ride west without visiting the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, North Dakota!

Don't even... 

Sacred white bison in the museum.

Next stop, Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, ND. 
We've been bisonless for nearly an entire day.  Hiking to find us 
a bison herd!

Found one! Feels like a scene from Dances with Wolves. The valley was rumbling as the rutting bulls in the herd below argued 
over dominance. 

Beautiful wild horses high on a ridge catching the afternoon winds. There is controversy as to whether or not wild horses should remain in the park. They are not native to the landscape and are poor graziers that directly compete for forage with native species such as deer, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and others. 

Beautiful bison bull lying in the cool dirt. 

Statue in Medora, ND. Bison have always been the sustenance of life. Deep reverence and respect for the source of life.

Evening in the Badlands. Pristine, rugged country. 
"The farther into the wilderness one gets, the greater is the attraction of it's lonely freedom." - Theodore Roosevelt 

Bison even live on the Coke machines.

Lone Badlands Bison Bull. A large portion of the west is in a drought. You can see how minimal the available forage is in this photo. Say a prayer for the folks in the western Dakotas, parts of Nebraska & Wyoming, Eastern Montana & southern Saskatchewan!

The Montana Bison Association hosted the prominent IBC, landing us smack in the middle of Rocky Mountain heaven. The last IBC was held in Quebec City, Quebec.

Our first evening, hand over heart, we sang our national anthem as Big Sky's Fire Department rocketed fireworks that burst over the distant jagged skyline.

320 Ranch along the Gallatin River. Trout fishing, rafting, horse riding, good food, great friends, and a private Michael Martin Murphy concert. 

Boys playing in the creek. The water was chilly! Boys will be boys. :) 

Bison 1 Million is a brand new campaign that was rolled out at the IBC. The goal: 1 million Bison in North America by 2027. An audacious, inspiring goal! Bison numbers are currently about 400,000 and there is a push to see more of them back on the landscape. Ranches, Parks and Tribal communities are all working together to see this goal realized. 

In coordination with Bison 1 Million, Wednesday's were officially declared as "Bison Hump Day". Eating bison restores bison to the landscape. Seems completely counterintuitive, right? Today, beef cattle roam many of the acres that bison once did. The fastest way to make a significant impact in expanding the bison herd is to reclaim that ground for bison. Strong demand for bison meat converts large cattle ranches back to bison. Strong demand also gives tribal communities great means to support their community. State and National Parks recognize the uptick in bison support and continue to reintroduce bison to new territory. Support the movement; Every Wednesday, Eat bison, Restore Bison! 

Home, Home on the Range. The last day of the IBC was spent along the creek at Ted Turner's Flying D ranch. The Flying D is one of the most picturesque places on earth. Towering, snow-capped peaks contrasted by clear streams trickling through lush green meadows. Bison and other wildlife are plentiful. Here you can see the bison in the foreground as well as a few stragglers of a 300+ head herd of elk that strung out along the base of the ridge heading for more shaded, cooler bedding cover. 

Part of the 2600 head Flying D herd enjoying the sunshine. 

We sponsored the dinner serving 600+ of our 100% Grass-fed Bison New York Strip Steaks. Many folks came to us after the meal saying it was one of the best steaks of their life. Mind you, this is a group of bison ranchers and processors that eat bison all the time. Most were highly skeptical being it was 100% Grass-fed assuming it would be tough and gamy. This was the first time a 100% Grass-fed Bison steak had been served at a national bison event. 
It made quite a splash. 

The sun sets on old friendships, fresh memories, and new inspiration. 

As we pointed the bus back east the following morning, driving through our daily dose of bison, we reflected upon the amazing week we'd just experienced reuniting with great friends, making a significant impact for bison, and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the high country, we pondered the herds back home, wading belly-deep in green grass. 

Life is good in Wisconsin. Life is good. We hope you've had an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the view at some point this summer. Life is too short not to.

Live well this week,
Sean & The Northstar Bison Team
 


9.5.2107

It All Costs The Same?

We hear the notion fairly often, “All food actually costs the same. As you grow older and begin experiencing diet-related health issues, you’ll pay all those grocery “savings” back in prescription drugs and medical bills. So, in the end, it all costs the same.”

I disagree.

Simple economics say; purchase something for X and sell it for Y, at a profit. The currency is typically money. The system works beautifully. Until we start tampering with limited resources. A company or individual may technically “own” rights to a resource. But who has the power to grant those rights? Do they really have the right to sell it? Consume it? Use it? Abuse it? Even destroy it? For profit? For one-time personal or corporate net-gain? A limited resource they had no part in creating in the first place? What ethics or moral codes are in place to discourage or police this type of activity?

None.

Because it is physically impossible to regulate based upon law.

How can we possibly place a dollar value on clean water? Clean air? Fertile soil? A peaceful community? Healthy bodies? To actually put a dollar value on them would be demeaning, degrading, disastrous. So why don’t we treat them with reverence and respect?

One could argue a few are sustaining. We, at Northstar, tend to believe there are no such “neutrals” in life. We’re growing or we’re dying. Improving soil or raping it. Enriching a species or confining it. Purifying air or polluting it. Preserving water or toxifying it.  Nourishing humans or poisoning them.

 Certain resources are indispensable, irreplaceable.

If we’re not regenerating, it’s likely unsustainable.

It doesn’t all cost the same.

There is a solution; To be educated and responsible with what you purchase.

A market is only viable with a consumer.

Given this thought, don’t beat yourself up next time you’re in the grocery store or shopping online. Make a decision to change the way you purchase 1 category and shop based upon that principle. It’s the “1% better every day” in action. Factory farms are gobbling up resources rapidly. Conventional row-cropping eats chemical sprays, fertilizers and fossil fuels for breakfast. You can make a difference purchasing organic grains. Or maybe you’ll decide to regenerate with your dairy or animal protein purchases.

Wherever you are and whatever you choose, make the choice to live well this week.  
Sean & the Northstar Team  


9.19.2017

What in the world is Caul Fat?!

Caul fat is the abdominal lining of an animal that encompasses the stomach. It looks like a lace net and stores quick-access energy for the animal. It’s commonly used for wrapping lean roasting meats to provide valuable juiciness and nutrient-rich essential fatty composition to your meal. Indigenous people cherished caul fat. In fact it was an extreme delicacy once an animal was harvested. Wrapping the heart in the caul fat and roasting over a fire was part of an ancient celebratory meal concluding a hunt. You see, organ muscles and tissues are some of the most nutrient dense parts of an animal, however, they are challenging to preserve long-term without modern vacuum seal and refrigerants. Organ meats would be consumed first, which, following a grueling hunt risking life and limb, that heart muscle dripping with liquid energy breathed life back into their weary bones.

Hunt celebrations were joyous. Not over the taking of life but for the thankfulness of sacrifice that allowed another life form to see another day.

Days were uncertain. We plan for retirement. They planned for winter. Storing enough rich, wholesome protein to sustain your family through the harsh winter was something to behold. Something to celebrate. Something to cherish.

And be damned if you wasted a morsel.

Northstar applies these same principles today; Utilizing every part to nourish someone, something, somewhere.

100% Grass-fed Bison Fat has all the properties you want to be consuming. High in CLA and Omega 3, it is literal cancer-fighting brainfood. Cooking with 100% Grass-fed Bison Caul Fat increases the nutritional value of your meal by feeding your body a satiating, readily-usable source of energy. It will also amplify and enrich flavor profiles along with providing an ultra-clean source of oil to maintain mouth-watering juiciness. Consuming good fats will decrease your appetite, keep you full for longer and sharpen your focus throughout the day. It’s something simple you can add to your diet that will make a significant impact in yours and your family’s overall well-being.

Enhance your next Brisket, Prime Rib, Heart, Hamburger, Roast, Meatballs, Meatloaf or nearly anything you can imagine with 100% Grass-fed Bison Caul Fat.

It not only enhances the flavor of a meal, it enhances the nutritional value. A double win.

We’ve been harvesting our Bison Caul Fat for a few months now so we feel we have enough supply to offer it on our website. Northstar is the first and only place you can find 100% Grass-fed Bison Caul Fat. With the onset of the autumn/winter roasting season, now is the perfect time to put some rich, buttery Bison Caul Fat in your ice box. Each bison only yields 1 package of caul fat so please understand supplies are limited. If you plan to order, do so quickly. For additional caul fat cooking ideas, an internet search is a great place to start. There are many articles and videos on how to prepare and cook with caul fat. Explore, enjoy and enrich.

Live well this week,

Sean & the Northstar Team


10.3.2017

 

Field Harvest

In addition to our passion to offer the most nutritious, most flavorful, most tender 100% Grass-fed and pasture-raised meats from some of the finest ranches in the world, Northstar is passionate about providing some of the most respected animal proteins on the planet. At the appropriate time, we accept the responsibility of taking the life of an animal that we have poured years of heart and soul into.

While we certainly don’t enjoy this part, we’re proud of how we do it.

Because the how is every bit as important as the what.

Northstar’s Field Harvest process is ancient yet timeless; taking an animal in it’s natural environment. The bison leisurely graze the pastures with the herd as they do any other day. The herd is surveyed. An animal is selected, and Lee, an incredibly skilled rifleman, patiently awaits the perfect opportunity. The herd slowly grazes along, mingling as they move. Then, “The One” drifts into an opening and pauses. Blink. In a millisecond the bull lay motionless, resting in peace as the herd calmly pivots to face him, as if to gesture the honorable life sacrifice.

As an animal welfare auditor once told us,

“I can’t imagine a better way to go. This is truly remarkable.”

The average modern human being has no real basis on which to understand the true gravity of this process. If done incorrectly, slaughter is a disgustingly brutal act of desecration. The animals just become a number and are forced through the slaughter system at “efficiency pace”.

When done with respect, honor and reverence, the harvest is able to be accepted as a challenging yet very necessary and beautiful part of the life cycle.  

To us, disrespectfully and unethically taking the life of an animal is simply not an option.

Nature is a cruel master.

Disease, storms, starvation, predators, fractured bones, infection, gorings, drowning, dehydration.

None of which are peaceful.

Our zero-stress Field Harvest also eliminates stress-induced cortisol coursing through the animal’s bloodstream, toughening the meat and tainting it’s flavor. Our Field Harvest preserves that flavor and tenderness the majestic American Bison is known for.

We own the responsibility to provide incredibly valuable protein with honorable humane harvest.

 

When done appropriately, it is beautiful.    

 

Live well this week,

Sean & the Northstar Team


10.17.2017

The Black Eye of Rural America.

 

Few things conjure up the same emotion of despair in the heart of the American plains than staring at a landscape, once blackened with massive grazing herds of almost innumerous bison, now stand thousands of cattle packed into steer stuffer pens for miles on end, living in their own feces while medicated feed is hauled in twice a day and the dead ones are hauled off to be rendered for dog food. 
 

90% of the red meat consumed in this country is finished in feedlots.   Concentrated cattle, concentrated waste, concentrated disease.

From an aerial point of view; A black eye. A scab on the earth. 

Once a land so pristine, untouchable, wild. Now degraded, molested, subdued.
 Those farmers are awful. How can they live with themselves! Right??
 

Truth is, most farmers hate it as much as you and I.

Micky D’s customers were clamoring for more $1 hamburgers. Large grocers race to the bottom of the barrel, slicing margins thinner, in order to entice the masses. When your customer asks you to do something and your livelihood depends on it, what do you do? You’re 3rd generation on this land, you find a way to deliver.  

Now, unintended consequences.    

Are we ready to fight for better yet?
Are we willing to recognize where the cheap-food movement has ultimately gotten us?  

Obesity & Cancer.
pen earthen sores & Excess waste..

What are feedlots good for? Cheap food.
We’ve got to ask ourselves; Is it worth it? 

Northstar stands in the gap.
Fighting for the way nature intended.

Swimming upstream isn’t easy but it’s worth it.
If you’re ready for change, choose differently. 

Live well this week,

Sean & the Northstar Team


11.14.2017

 

Northstar Bison was founded in 1994, but began long before that.

Lee Graese, founder and co-owner with his wife Mary, has had a fascination with this majestic animal since his early boyhood. Lee read countless books about the old west and how bison was an integral part of every facet of life on the prairie. Lee’s fascination eventually grew into a dream... a dream to one day own bison. Lee’s dream came to life in the early ‘90s when he and Mary purchased a bison heifer calf and a 2 year old bison bull from Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota. However, Lee did not realize where his dream would take him and his family.

Lee and Mary have backgrounds in powerlifting (Lee actually set an American Record in the deadlift in 1983 while being instrumental in starting the American Drug Free Powerlifting Association, combating the rampant steroid use of the day), dietetics, health clubs, as well as coaching and training professional athletes.

Shortly after purchasing their first two animals, Lee and Mary began to understand the nourishing benefits bison meat, particularly when they’re raised on their native diet, in their natural habitat. Something that was lacking in the diets of many high-level athletes.

Mary began to reach out to friends and family, letting them know about this incredibly nourishing protein. Advance orders were placed and the fall of 1997 yielded our first bison ready for harvest. Our deep, utmost respect and desire to provide an honorable harvest to further dignify the life of our first born calf, birthed our very first field harvest. The meat was processed and orders were filled. Rave reviews followed which spurred us to continue the journey.

I was in 2nd grade when we bought our first 2 bison. Over the next few years, Mom, Dad, my sisters and I spent most of our waking moments (while we weren’t in school) building fence, making hay, filling water tanks, thawing frozen water tanks, rolling out hay bales, fixing fence, hand cutting invasive weeds, or just sitting with the bison.   

Since those early days, a lot has changed. And a lot hasn’t changed. Our focus and principles around deeply nourishing our friends and family by raising these animals as nature intended while maintaining our respectful, zero-stress field harvest.

Dad’s dream has grown to encompass thousands of acres of rolling grasslands, a couple thousand roaming bison, several additional ranching families, our own processing plants, as well as a growing team with a continued deep commitment toward our foundational principles of raising the most nourishing proteins nature can provide.

Dream big. You never know who your dreams might bless.

Live well this week,

Sean and the Northstar Tribe


Bone Broth - The Secret Weapon to Daily Health

Can't shake the cold? Feeling fatigued? Want to boost your immune system?

We'd like to introduce you to our good friend, Bone Broth. It's made from 100% grass-fed meaty bones and knuckles, combined with apple cider vinegar and simmered for 72 hours.

It's packed with the highest quality nutrients and vitamins that will help you maintain your health, give you an extra kick of energy and prevent you from the common cold and flu. 

Did you know that bone broth made from animals fed GMO grain has a strong likelihood of containing glyphosates from their GMO grain diets ? You can be assured that bison bone broth from Northstar Bison is 100% glyphosate free as our animals enjoy chemical free, organically managed pastures from birth to plate.

Did we mention it's an age-old tool to improve and boost a healthy immune system AND skin health? Read this amazing testimony how the Northstar Bison bone broth gave her life back.

We offer four types of bone broth: Bison, Beef, Soy-Free Chicken, and Soy-Free Turkey. 

Click the link below to order yours today.
Be Nourished,
Mary 

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