Sunday, March 04, 2001

Buffalo ranchers round up business




By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Dave Uible, wife Cindy Cassell and daughter Emma on their 175-acre ranch.
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        A New Richmond couple continues to pioneer the marketing of buffalo meat as a low-fat, high-protein food of the future.

        Last October, we wrote about Cindy Cassell and her husband, David Uible, who tend about 70 head of buffalo on their 175-acre Vista Grand Ranch — the largest commercial buffalo ranch in the Tristate and one of a few in Ohio. (Oct, 15, 2000 story)

        The former city dwellers (he is an entrepreneur and investor, she is a Ph.D.-trained nutritionist) moved to the country in 1994. Soon after, they decided to raise buffalo to qualify for a lower property tax rate. Buffalo ranching attracted them because the animals are relatively easy to care for and the meat is gaining popularity.

WHERE TO BUY
  You can find Vista Grand Ranch buffalo at:
  • Eckerlin's Meats, Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine; 721-5743.
  • Lehr's Meats, 740 Main St., Milford; 831-3411.
  • S&S Specialty Foods, 6660 Clough Pike, Anderson Township; 231-6483.
  • Wild Oats Market, Rookwood Commons, 2693 Edmondson Road, Norwood; 531-8015.
        Mr. Uible and Ms. Cassell found a processor in Indiana near Louisville and early last year, started selling buffalo, including ground meat, steaks and summer sausage, to several Tristate retailers and restaurants.

        Since our last story, the couple has introduced a new buffalo breakfast sausage (in links and patties) flavored with green onion. “It's so lean, you have to spray the bottom of the pan (with vegetable spray) to fry it,” Mr. Uible says.

        Many people are putting buffalo on the plate because it's relatively high in protein and contains less fat and cholesterol than beef, pork and chicken.

        Some Tristate retailers were hesitant to sell buffalo at first because they thought buffalo was “exotic” and expensive (prices can range from about $4.99 per pound for ground buffalo to $15.95 per pound for ribeye and strip steaks.)

        But the New Richmond ranchers kept knocking on doors, pushing their products. This year, Wild Oats Market in Rookwood Commons began stocking Vista Grand Ranch buffalo.

        To make it easier to buy his products, Mr. Uible built a Web site in February (www.vistagrandranch.com). Consumers should be able to buy direct from the site by March 15.

        A television commercial for Vista Grand Ranch also began airing last month. “At some point, we may want to run it (the commercial) elsewhere in the region,” Mr. Uible says. “Who knows?”



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