They used to roam these very mountains and valleys, thousands of great shaggy beasts standing more than six feet at the shoulder; wild and frightening. Their hooves made the earth tremble and their very existence meant life for the people indigenous to these mountains.
Today Dr. Frank J. King, Jr., founder of Carolina Bison, is working to repopulate the American buffalo which was once native to this region. With 500 to 600 head, King’s farm in Leicester is home to the largest herd of bison in the Eastern United States.
King began raising bison in 1985 and started recommending it to his patients.
“I looked at the history of the Native Americans who lived off bison,” he said. “They lived [to ages] over 100 years before the white man came.”
King is a nationally recognized researcher, lecturer, and author in homeopathy, a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Doctor of Naturopathy. In addition to being founder of Carolina Bison, King is the founder and president of King Bio in Emma, and is an international leader in the fields of health, nutrition and homeopathy.
When King began recommending bison, he began to see remarkable changes such as more energy, fewer digestive issues and increased immune function in his patients. He said problems such as allergies and headaches would disappear.
“You are what you eat,” points out King, who added that bison meat has 40 percent less fat than beef and therefore provides more actual food value for the cost. Bison also has half the calories than beef, less cholesterol than fish and is higher in omega three acids (the healthy kind) than fish.
“These [omega three] are the healthy acids that feed the brain and cardiovascular system, prevent cancer and decrease inflammation,” said King.
Raising buffalo fits right in with King’s passion for creating a healthier world. In addition to recommending the meat for his patients, King’s mission is to save the American farm and rediscover the lost gems and qualities that makes natural eating so healthy. With assistance from the Wild Food Foundation, Carolina Bison is working to return their grazing areas to the original native herbs and grasses that made bison such a wealth of nutrition for the indigenous peoples.
King has been practicing organic and sustainable farming since the 1970’s and says part of his mission is to help put the natural and best food on the plate. He explained it is a full cycle from the plant to the consumer.
“It’s a 360 (full circle) plan,” said King. “If the plan is weak in any part of the cycle, then it’s broken.”
Carolina Bison can be found in several local stores such as Earth Fare, Amazing Savings, Harris Teeter and Ingles markets. Many local restaurants carry Carolina Bison and they also sell at local farmers’ markets and through their web site at www.carolinabison.com/store.
In addition to their local bison, the company has partnered with farmers and ranchers across the country to grow and increase the herd. A century ago, the bison population had dwindled to an estimated 1,000. Today there are more than half a million.
In July 2011 the National Bison Industry News stated that, “Demand is now outstripping our current supply,… The 92,000 head of bison processed in North America last year doubled the level of 2005, but still represent less than one day’s processing of cattle in the U.S.”
In addition to preserving the bison, the American farm and local native grasses, Carolina Bison is also growing a herd of Yak, which King says is cousin to the bison.
“Yak have the highest omega three oils and proteins than anything on the planet,” King said. Other projects he is working on include a healthy pet food line and writing books about, what he calls, “the forgotten fundamentals of health.”
Carolina Bison employs ten people regularly and brings in seasonal employees as needed. Office Manager Montana Fain said they are currently sprigging some of the native grasses, so the bison are off many of the fields, but they offer farm tours during the spring and fall.