This July, at the Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC, I was able to visit the Native American Natural Foods center and learn more about companies that are working to revive traditional culinary practices of the original Americans. One of these companies produces the Tanka Bar. Centuries ago the Lakota Native American people in what is now South Dakota made a dish that utilized the land and helped them survive through harsh Northern winters. Called Wasna, it was a mixture of fruits, herbs and buffalo meat. The fruit (often cranberries) helped to cure the buffalo and preserve it. Hot fat was then poured over the mixture for further preservation and to add more energy to the mixture. In fact, many Native Americans carried this mixture in an empty buffalo horn to fuel them through a day of hunting.
Today, the makers of the Tanka Bar are reviving this method and making it available to the public. The production aims to stay true to Native American tradition (minus the hot fat…the buffalo is now blasted with hot water instead) and at the same time provide economic opportunity for the Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Each bar or stick of buffalo jerky is low in fat (about 2 grams) and contains only natural ingredients. Learn more about the production and mission of Tanka products and where to purchase your own buffalo bars, sticks and dogs here.
As someone who eats very few processed foods, I found the Tanka Bar delightfully delicious and am excited to add it to my stash of quick and healthy snacks on the go. Have you tried any buffalo products or traditional foods that you love lately?