By Justin R. Lessman
Just call Julie Foote the “Tender Bison Babe.” She doesn’t mind.
fact, that’s her marketing handle as a sales representative for TenderBison, the brand of naturally raised bison meat
produced by members of the North American Bison Cooperative.
Foote, of rural Worthington, has been the “Tender
Bison Babe” for the past two years, drawn to the business by the opportunity to do her “own thing,” as well
as by the reputation of the product.
“Not only does bison taste good, it’s good for you,” Foote
Bison tastes similar to natural beef, Foote said, but is sweeter and more tender.
a very rich-tasting meat,” she said. “Some people who haven’t had bison before have this perception that
it’s tough or gamey. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is tender, flavorful and delicious.”
Not to mention healthy.
is one of the most nutritious meats you can eat,” Foote said. “It’s lean — even leaner and healthier
than skinless chicken — and is packed full of good omegas.”
What makes TenderBison meat stand apart
is how it is raised, Foote said.
“TenderBison meat is all-natural, coming from premium-grade, ranch-raised,
grain-finished bison,” she said.
By “all-natural,” Foote said, the NABC means raised under
a unique “Never-Ever-Growth-Hormone-and-No-Antibiotic” program.
“Additionally, all our animals
are raised on a vegetarian diet that is free of animal byproducts and hormones, allowing them to mature naturally,”
she said. “It is non-allergenic and a more easily digested red meat.”
More than 300 NABC member ranchers
from across the United States and Canada — including one in nearby Reading — raise the bison that become TenderBison
“They are range-fed until the first two weeks prior to packaging, at which point they are
fed grain, which makes the meat sweet,” Foote said.
All bison are then shipped to the NABC’s central
processing plant in New Rockford, N.D., a state-of-the-art facility where the meat is packaged under strict Hazard Analysis
and Critical Control Point policies and procedures. It is the only U.S. Department of Agriculture- and European Union-approved
dedicated bison processing facility in the United States.
Once packaged, the TenderBison meat is ready to be
shipped — fresh or frozen — to clients around the world. Foote markets to primarily two types of customers —
restaurants and residential.
“We ship two-day delivery to the door,” she said.
for bison has steadily grown over the years, Foote said, reaching a fever pitch as of late as more health-conscious consumers
discover its benefits.
Foote said she is also able to offer other unique proteins such as lamb, venison, ostrich
and even alligator, though bison remains her main focus.
“I always wanted to do my own thing — something
that was wholesome and high-quality and made in America,” she said. “Becoming the ‘Tender Bison Babe’
has allowed me to do that.”