The artisans of Wisconsin make products with pride and passion, and Terry Diedrich of Navarino Valley Elk and Buffalo Ranch is the perfect example. Today I got the chance to talk to him about his business. Terry raises elk and buffalo and sells the meat to local restaurants and farmers market patrons. He also sells jerky and summer sausage on Wisconsinmade.com.
Terry was born and raised in Wisconsin in a family of dairy farmers. He knew he wanted to work in agriculture, but he decided to work smarter. He learned that raising elk and buffalo would be less labor intensive than milking cows, and since elk and buffalo don’t mind a few hills, he could raise his animals on rough terrain. Today Terry has over 100 elk and 200 bison on his ranch.
After a few minutes of talking to Terry you can tell there’s a deeper purpose to his business than making elk jerky and buffalo burgers. Terry is committed to raising animals without the use of antibiotics and hormones. I asked him how people feel about less common meat varieties.
“Initially people didn’t get it,” Terry said, “But more and more people have learned about the health benefits of elk and bison.”
The health benefits he’s talking about are apparent when you compare elk and bison to more common meats like beef and pork. Elk and buffalo have less fat, less cholesterol, and more omega-3s. Terry also raises his animals free from hormones and antibiotics. Since the details of modern agriculture are too dull for a food fun blog, I won’t get into that, but let’s just say that Terry is committed to raising animals to make the best quality meat available.
Just for fun, I asked Terry about his favorite elk or buffalo dish. He loves a good gourmet burger, especially if there’s a homemade bun and gourmet toppings involved. You can find more yummy food photos on the Navarino Elk and Buffalo Ranch Facebook page, or shop for gift baskets of elk and bison sausage and jerky on Wisconsinmade.com.
Have you ever tried elk or buffalo meat? What do you think?
As a special gift to Edible Antics readers, you can enter promotion code FUNBLOG at checkout to get 10% off food gifts at Wisconsinmade.com.
Wisconsin farmers are truly optimistic visionaries! Unlike the rest of us cowering inside complaining about single-digit temps and 5′ snow drifts, Wisconsin farmers are readying for the summer growing season. They’re busily fixing machinery and ordering supplies. They’re convinced that winter will end.
Yesterday I caught their spring fever when I opened the letter from farmers Dan and Catherine Kleiber of Anisoptera Acres. (Even the name, Anisoptera, is hopeful. Anisoptera is the sub-order of insects that includes dragonflies – some of the first insects to take to the skies millions of years ago!) Catherine and Dan are putting out the word that they’re ordering the chickens, ducks, hogs, and steers which they’ll be raising this spring and summer for the Hilldale Farmers’ Market. They’re giving their regular customers a chance to put in orders for their free-range, natural meats. I appreciate this heads-up because last year their meats were so popular that they sold out.
Dan and Catherine Kleiber typify the Wisconsin farmers who sell high-quality meats at the farmers markets. The young animals they raise are hatched or born down the road on neighboring farms. The chicks come to the Kleiber farm when they’re a day old; the hogs and steers arrive after they’re weaned. Then the animals live out their lives in 5 acres of open pasture. The combination of fresh-air, exercise, and eating field vegetation supplemented with an all-natural livestock feed produces healthy animals, (which are probably pretty happy too!) Wisconsin farmers and their customers swear by the superior flavor of these home-raised meats. And these meats are typically leaner and contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids which are not naturally found in purely grain-fed animals. (Click here to read about the health benefits of grass-fed livestock.)
Locally-raised meats are becoming ever-more available at Wisconsin’s farmers markets, – so move over fruits and veggies! In addition to chicken, beef, and pork, some farmers are selling duck, goose, turkey, trout, buffalo, venison, lamb, and even goat meat. (My daughter won’t touch fillet mignon, but she LOVES Dan’s ground goat meat! It sounds funny to hear her plead, “Please Mom can’t we have goat tonight?” My friends ask “How do you cook ‘goat?” I tell them to treat it like ground beef.)
Every summer day, somewhere in Wisconsin a farmers market is happening. Many of them begin in late-April and continue through October. Madison residents love their Capitol Square Farmers Market so much that the market keeps going through the winter (inside of course, – we’re not crazy).