Patagonia, known for its game-changing ice axes and sustainable down and wool jackets, brought its outdoor expertise to the food industry in 2012 with the tagline, "rethinking our food chain." Founder Yvon Chouinard's passion for fishing inspired a culinary venture called Patagonia Provisions, which launched with a line of sustainably-harvested wild salmon snacks. Now, it's pairing up with South Dakota's Wild Idea Buffalo Company to offer buffalo jerky.
This partnership supports South Dakota ranchers raising sustainable buffalo herds and preserves over 100,000 acres of wild grasslands. The herding also bolsters the prairie's natural ecosystem as the buffalo recycle nutrients and till the soil as they roam. "A lot's been lost," says the Patagonia video spot. "Bringing them back will be an expensive undertaking, but we think the best way to accomplish that goal is to create a business that sells their meat; a system that gives them plenty of room and keeps them out of the clutches of industrial agriculture and respects them in a traditional way."
A snack made out of bison meat may seem counterproductive to the welfare of buffalo, but Patagonia aims to keep a healthy balance between the habitat and the herds, saying that selective harvests keep the maintain the overall health of the herds. "Instead of waiting for some miraculous, high-tech solution to bail us out of our climate-change disaster, the real miracle turns out to be simply working with nature instead of against it," says Chouinard. "Our grasslands, and the soil beneath them, might just save the world."
Wild Idea ensures its bison harvesting is humane, slaughtering in the prairies where they roam and graze — not the typical crowded, stress hormone-inducing slaughterhouses. The 100-percent grass-fed, free-range, antibiotic-, pesticide-, and hormone-free dried buffalo meat sells for $10 per two-ounce package. They require no refrigeration, are shelf (and backpack) stable for a year, and will be available through all 30 of Patagonia’s U.S. brick-and-mortar retail stores, as well as online at PatagoniaProvisions.com.
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