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Buffalo: The original "local" meat

January 04, 2021

Buffalo: The original "local" meat
The "new" concept of eating only locally grown foods is not a new idea at all. Native Americans were the first "locavores," extremely sensitive to seasonal availability of vegetables and fruits and the movements of animal herds.

The Native American Food Pyramid (shown at top), adapted from the USDA Food Pyramid, is design to incorporate traditional foods from Native American cultures. Designed by the CANFit Youth Leadership Committee & Project Staff of the Escondido Community Health Center in Berkeley, Calif., the pyramid attempts to incorporate traditional Native American foods into the USDA scheme.

While the Native American pyramid does add many traditional Native foods, such as cactus, squash, corn, beans, deer and acorns, there is one glaring omission. Where are the buffalo?

For centuries, the buffalo were an essential meal component for millions of Native Americans. According to Richard B. Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Indian College Fund and prominent Native American historian, the buffalo represents a spiritual essence that developed through a co-existence for over 30,000 years.

In a history on the importance of buffalo's relationship to American Indians, he says that to re-establish healthy buffalo populations on tribal lands is to re-establish life itself for Indian people: "The beneficial aspects of buffalo meat when compared to beef have been well-documented. Buffalo meat is low in cholesterol and fat. The reintroduction of the buffalo to the American Indian diet would be extremely beneficial to the health of the people."

Therefore, the omission of buffalo in the "official" Native American Food Pyramid is a glaring one. It may be time to replace the cow with a buffalo.

For more on Williams' "History of the Relationship of the Buffalo and the Indian": BUFFALO NATION

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