Pure, wild food sources may hold key to restoring optimal health
Story by Frances Figart | Photos by Joye Ardyn Durham
“A powerful female spiritual entity taught the Native Americans about a time of hardship coming in the future. As a sign, she would return then as a white buffalo. Native peoples awaited her return as the time of harmony being restored to all people.” ~White Buffalo Calf Woman legend
As an intrepid medical student in the 1970s, Frank King tried being a vegetarian. For about a year he felt vital, but at the end of five years, his health had become compromised.
Upon being introduced to bison meat, he immediately felt more vigor. While building his integrative medicine practice, the young doctor recommended his patients replace red meats with bison. Those diagnosed with high cholesterol, headaches, allergies—even hemorrhoids—seemed to respond and even recover on the bison meat.
Impressed, Dr. King set out to raise bison on his family farm on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Constructing special fencing and corrals suited to the bisons’ size and strength, he bought two gold and silver trophy champion males in Denver and 27 females in North Dakota. After raising them for four years, he headed to Asheville to establish his now-renowned natural pharmaceutical company, King Bio, acquired property in the rolling hills of Leicester, and moved his growing herd here in 1989.
“Starting an innovative natural pharmaceutical company had its challenges,” he says. “At times I asked myself, ‘Why am I raising all these animals?’” The farm was expensive, the potential for profit was questionable and it was incredibly hard work.
Return of the buffalo
King was considering selling the farm and his herds when a Native American friend shared with him an ancient Sioux prophecy that changed his mind.
More than 1,000 years ago by our marking of time, a beautiful young woman dressed in white appeared to the Oceti Sakowin tribe (also known as the Lakota) and told them about a time of great trouble coming upon the earth many generations hence. She taught them ceremonies and songs to help avert it. When those times arrived, as a sign, she said she would return as a white buffalo. After four days of teaching, she rolled in the dirt and turned into first a white buffalo, then black, yellow, and red. Native peoples awaited the birth of a white buffalo, believing it would herald a time when all colors of people from all corners of the earth would be restored to harmony.
“I was immediately awestruck. The lightning bolt hit and I said, ‘I need to do this!’” King recalls. “From that point on, it has been my mission, my conviction, to do all I can to bring the bison back to their full genetic potential and allow for the conditions that support the return of the white buffalo.”
The deep roots of bison
Looking out across the 160 acres of King’s Leicester farm, it’s easy to envision a time when there were
60 million bison—more than any single species of hoof stock ever.
“They were so plentiful they interfered with development of the country,” King says. “Because of this and because the white man knew that the buffalo gave much support and strength to the native Americans we were fighting, we killed the buffalo, taking away the native food source.”
The eastern bison, now extinct, ranged from Maine to Florida and were most heavily concentrated in the Carolinas. The bison King has bred—which graze on non-GMO grasses and can grow up to 3,000 pounds—are a cross between the American plains and Canadian woods bison indigenous to this continent.
“From that point on, it has been my mission, my conviction, to do all I can to bring the bison back to their full genetic potential and allow for the conditions that support the return of the white buffalo.”
While other champions such as Ted Turner have made more epic strides toward saving the buffalo, King says the mission for his farms (he now has multiple properties) is to keep us connected to foods that are untainted by generations of hybridization—bison, elk, deer and even muscadine grapes. These foods reconnect us to prehistoric genetics, creating a missing link that King believes can restore harmony in our own bodies—and possibly on the planet, as foretold by the legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman long ago.
“Like dinosaurs, bison carry with them the wild qualities that humans have not messed with genetically,” says King. “These are animals that have survived the ice age. Their deeply rooted, pure genetics can help realign our own optimal health.”
This ancient genetic makeup is shared by other exotic inhabitants of the farms: the Himalayan yak, another source of nutritious meat and, here for their milk, the camel and African Watusi, whose horns can be 12 feet wide.
“Learning the Native American legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman motivated me to help restore the health of people and the planet through these magnificent creatures with roots back to prehistoric times, which can, in turn, help restore humanity,” says King, who offers natural products from all his various herds to the public and to restaurants through the shop at Dr. King’s Farms. Learn more at drkings.com/farms.
As the editor of Plough to Pantry, Frances Figart plans, assigns, directs and edits all the stories in each issue.