Only when Jamie decided to feature kid (young goat meat) in his latest series of Friday Night Feast did I realise I knew very little about the world's most widely eaten meat.
A visit to a small-scale, free-range producer in the Cotswolds really opened my eyes and taste buds to this massively logical and delicious alternative to the usual Western world mix of chicken, pork and beef.
The rise in availability of kid meat is largely due to the increasing demand for goat’s milk. Stronger in flavour than cow’s milk and suitable for people with lactose intolerances – whether for health, trend or cheese reasons, goat’s milk has gained popularity in recent years. This has led to a surprisingly high number of milking goats, known as ‘nanny goats’ in the UK, although we rarely catch a glimpse of them as they’re usually kept indoors (herding goats twice a day is no mean feat).
As with any dairy, the animal being milked must be reproducing in order to keep the milk flowing. As males and females are born in equal quantities, the boys born to a milking nanny are largely unwanted. This is a sad fact of the dairy and egg industries, and usually sees young males killed within hours of being born.
Fortunately, Lizzie Dyer, who comes from a mixed farm background in the West Country, is helping to alleviate this problem by sourcing these unwanted males from a major goat dairy, then rearing them on her sustainable, higher-welfare meat farm in the Cotswolds.
A VISIT TO THE KID FARM
In the past, I’ve always said that pigs and turkeys are my favourite farm animals to spend time with due to their fun and inquisitive personalities. That was until I took a trip to the kid farm…
Lizzie has built small, cosy rearing houses out of old army barrack buildings, where the kids live in comfort while they are weaned off milk and onto solid food. The houses are filled with deep, warm straw, toys such as barrels, wheels and crates to play with, and an endless supply of nutritious milk. Each house is like a mini circus with bouncy, energetic kids desperate to say hello and show off tricks! I have never in my life seen farm animals as entertaining and genuinely happy as the kids on Lizzie’s farm.
Once the kids have adapted to life on the farm and have begun eating solid food, they are moved to outdoor fields for grazing for the rest of their lives. They are truly free-range, with access to pasture 24-hours-a-day and indoor shelter to sleep in when they choose. At somewhere between six and nine months, before they mature into goats, the kids are taken to a small local abattoir where they are humanely slaughtered in small batches.
As somebody who enjoys a diet containing meat and dairy, the kid industry has opened my eyes to a sustainable alternative to the usual mix of meats. In my role at Jamie Oliver I’m often faced with challenges of meat consumption in today’s world, where the sustainability of our food system is a big worry. Small, ethically focused, pasture-based systems such as this are definitely part of the solution. Here’s why:
- These animals would otherwise have been killed at birth and their lives would have been wasted
- The meat system is working hand in hand with the dairy system, allowing both to help each other
- The kids feed predominantly on food that humans and other animals cannot eat, meaning that valuable cereals are not being wasted for the fattening of livestock
- Compared with intensive livestock systems, the environmental impact is minimal – large amounts of fossil fuels are not going into feed, irrigation, housing, waste management or processing systems
- The animal welfare is excellent – these kids live in an environment where they can express their natural behaviours, and large amounts of antibiotics are not required
- The meat these animals produce is highly nutritious
The last benefit of this system, which must not go unsaid, is that the meat is absolutely delicious. Kid meat is mild and tender, with a delicate sweet flavour. It is therefore no surprise that kid and goat meat is so popular worldwide.
While kid meat is not yet commonly seen on supermarket shelves, it is available from quality butchers and online direct from producers such as Lizzie at Just Kidding.
As ever, the trick to being a more sustainable carnivore is to value quality and welfare over quantity of meat consumed. I know for sure that I’ll be eating more kid meat in the future now that I’ve seen the logic and ethos behind these free-range animals.
To kick-start your love for this as yet underrated meat, check out our tasty burger recipe.
How to cook goat meat
While the UK may have embraced goats’ cheese, we seem less keen on the meat. It has a reputation for tasting gamey (it isn’t – in fact it actually tastes a lot like beef) and we are convinced that it will be tough and stringy (not if you treat it properly). Yet in India, southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia – most of the rest of the world, in fact – goat meat has always been popular.
Goat meat has fewer calories than beef, pork, lamb or even chicken, since it is a very lean meat, and it’s also high in potassium and has twice as much iron as beef. In some countries, including Korea and the Philippines, goat meat is considered something of an aphrodisiac. In Jamaica, “mannish water”, a goat soup that seems to contain everything except the bleat, is served to bridegrooms on their wedding night. You won’t find it at any of the major supermarkets, (although they might reconsider if there is enough demand) but if you search online there are several farms and breeders that source and sell butchered goat meat directly to the public. If you see the words “cabrito” or “chevon”, it is just goat meat with a fancy name. “Kid” is merely a young goat and will be tender with a delicate flavour. A few butchers, like The Ginger Pig, have started supplying goat meat now, and you can also find goat meat from smaller suppliers at farmers’ markets. Companies such Gourmet Goat are supplying food markets and restaurants, and will start supplying Borough Market in London in September.
Clearly, if you have a butcher near you that provides meat for Caribbean or Muslim communities, then you’ll definitely have no problem finding goat meat, although I find it is rarely sold off-the-bone. However, there is plenty of flavour in those bones, so that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Goat meat works beautifully with big, bold flavours. Photograph: Blackout Concepts/Alamy Photograph: Blackout Concepts / Alamy/Alamy
5 Ways to Love Sustainable, Delicious Goat Meat
Healthy and sustainable, goat meat is a favorite in many global kitchens.
If you&aposre a meat eater who never ventures beyond chicken, beef or pork, you&aposre missing out on a world of flavor from versatile, nutritious goat meat. This is a trending protein that not only tastes great, but is a leaner, healthier meat option, since it has fewer calories and less fat and cholesterol than other meats.
If you&aposre eating with the planet in mind, goat is always a good choice. Goats, literally, leave a small footprint on the environment. They&aposre browsers, not grazers, which means they eat weeds and noxious plants that other livestock avoid. And because they only thrive when allowed to roam, any goat you&aposre eating is guaranteed to be free range.
Cook&aposs note: While goat can be some of the tastiest meat you&aposll ever eat, it has earned a reputation for a tough, chewy texture. As long as you cook goat slowly, at a low temperature and with plenty of moisture, you&aposll have terrific results. Goat is not safe to serve rare, so use a food thermometer to make sure goat beef steaks, chop, and roasts have a minimum internal temperature of 145 ଏ and that ground goat meat is 160 ଏ.
Goat is a superstar in Mediterranean and West African cooking, but you&aposll find it in other cuisines as well. If you&aposd like to get your goat on with some new recipes, you&aposll be able to travel the globe and find terrific ideas for goat meat in just about every regional cuisine. From cabrito (baby goat) burgers to goat head soup, there&aposs a world of good eating waiting for you when you start cooking with goat. Let&aposs get started!
This highly rated recipe is inspired by the traditional Filipino stew recipe, caldereta. A long marinade in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic bring out the best in a bone-in cut of goat. "The serving size is 2 to 4, depending on how much bone the meat has." -- Olivia Tuggle
Gourmet Goat’s Kid Goat Stifado recipe
About 10 years ago my father gave me a book as a present. It’s a cookbook without any photos, dubious hand-drawn illustrations and no portion sizes in any of the recipes. It is written unapologetically in a strong Cypriot dialect with a glossary at the back to explain many of the words. I suspect the first edition was found in a cave. But there is also beauty to be found in the writing because it’s honest and the flavours and spices are what Cypriot flavours are about. I didn’t at the time realise just how lucky I was to be born and brought up in such a magical place, and because of this the flavours of Cyprus are part of my make-up and now of Gourmet Goat. This is a traditional village version of stifado, best enjoyed at room temperature in the summer with a salad or piping hot in winter. This often appears on our menu at Gourmet Goat in Borough Market and when it does, it sells out within an hour.
– 230ml oil (preferably half vegetable oil and half olive oil)
– 1.5 kg free-range diced kid goat meat
– 1.5kg onions, peeled and sliced
– 2 carrots, diced
– 2 cinnamon sticks (each at least 8cm in length)
– 250ml quality red wine vinegar
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 tablespoon tomato purée
– ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
– 375ml water
– salt and pepper, to taste
– fresh parsley, finely chopped
For the pasta
– 1 litre quality chicken stock
– 360g kritharaki pasta (orzo)
– some mild, hard sheep or goat cheese, to grate
Heat the oil in a large heavy pan (big enough to accommodate the stew), then add the kid goat and brown all over. You’ll need to do this in 2 to 3 batches. Remove and set aside.
Turn the heat right down and add the onion, carrots and cinnamon sticks. The onions need to soften but not colour – this should take around 30 minutes. Once softened, turn the heat up, add the vinegar, bay leaves, tomato purée and peppercorns. Stir to combine, turn the heat down, then add the goat and water. Season with a little salt and ground pepper (you can add more at the end). Cover and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the ki d goat is very soft. Turn the heat off, but keep covered and allow to rest.
Boil the stock for the pasta and cook as per the packet cooking instructions – I treat it like rice so I use a 2 parts liquid to 1 part pasta ratio. It should take about 13 minutes if using the 100% durum wheat kind.
To serve, spoon some pasta onto a plate, then add generous amounts of stew, fresh parsley and lots of grated cheese. Oh and a very large glass of Pinot Noir.
Kid goat is one of the world’s most popular meat – with around 80% of the world’s population said to have goat in their diet, yet in the UK, it’s not as well known nor consumed at the dinner table.
Kid goat meat, also known as cabrito and chevon, is low in cholesterol, high in iron, and ounce for ounce has less fat than chicken and about the same calories. Kid goat meat tastes like a cross between lamb and beef, and is a healthy as well as a sustainable choice in meat.
The rise in availability of kid goat meat in the UK today is largely due to the increasing demand for goat’s milk, as an alternative to cow’s milk and suitable for those with lactose intolerance.
Up to 40,000 young male goats are killed at birth each year in the UK and the carcasses thrown away, because they play no part in the booming market for goat’s milk products.
Since rearing the animals is costly for farmers, this huge wastage – only 1 per cent of billy kids are kept for breeding – had seemed unavoidable. But a new push by breeders, campaigners and chefs, including Jamie Oliver, to raise awareness and supermarkets which could begin to stock the meat, is changing that.
There are now a number of suppliers who take the billies from the dairy industry and send them to responsible farms to be reared and ultimately sold for their meat.
Many kid goat meat suppliers use the Boer goat which is a South African breed used primarily for meat production.
Kid goat in the UK has always been available but has been stocked mainly by butchers in areas with a high population of ethnic groups. Goat is a popular dish in Jamaican curries, and North Africans use goat meat, sometimes mixed with lamb, to make merguez sausages.
There are a number of different billy goats breeds used for the dairy industry and there is only a handful of people who are rearing them for meat. According to Gourmet Goat, a husband and wife team who sell Mediterranean-style kid goat wraps and burgers at Borough Market in London: “at the moment it is quite difficult for the general consumer to get hold of the raw product that has been reared to high welfare standards.”
Just Kidding, based in the Cotswolds, produce free range kid goat that is pasture fed and reared in a sustainable environment with no compromise on quality. Farmer Lizzie Dyer sources the unwanted males from a major goat dairy, then rears them on her sustainable, higher-welfare meat farm in the Cotswolds.
The company say: “There is no blueprint in the UK for Kid Meat production. We are creating an entirely new enterprise and developing our own systems that best suit our Billies and our ethos and look forward to exciting times as our future unfolds.”
Another supplier, Cabrito, have been selling kid goat meat sourced from British dairy farms to London restaurants since March 2012. They now sell online to consumers via online supermarket, Ocado.
It’s also a similar story in the USA. Heritage Foods USA’s No Goat Left Behind program has given the goat meat industry a small but stable boost. The organisation connects dairy goat farmers that have extra kids to New York City restaurants who want to try out the meat. The culmination of this program takes place in October, or Goatober, a month-long menu event with the goal of providing financial stability to farmers and introducing goat meat to diners.
Unlike in the beef, pork or chicken markets, wholesale buyers rarely buy goats for meat. Instead, a quarter of all goat kids raised in the US are sold directly to consumers or to small markets. Finding these consumers and arranging slaughters takes time and energy – often time and energy that small farmers just don’t have.
Getting the US population to see the pull towards kid goat meat is a challenge, as Erin Fairbanks of Heritage Food USA notes. Speaking to the Modern Farmer Magazine, she said: “It’s hard to start the story with, ‘Hey you know all these babies are leading these horrible lives and it’s your job to save them.’ That’s not enough,’. It also has to be a delicious product that people want to eat.”
Showcasing NI Producers Cookbook will take you on a gastronomic journey of discovery as you explore Broughgammon’s produce through the eyes of NI’s culinary masterminds and other artisan producers.
Compiled within is a variety of mouthwatering recipes to guide you through their sustainable and seasonal product range, including Free Range Rose Veal, Cabrito (Kid Goat
Meat), Wild Game and Hand-Harvested Irish Seaweeds.
It truly is a book to tantalise your taste buds, and to serenade your senses.
Goat Meat Recipes: The Forgotten Food
By Patrice Lewis — Goat meat recipes may have slipped out of popularity in the United States, but goat is the most widely consumed red meat worldwide.
Goat aficionados know a lot about caprines. They can discuss milk ratios and foraging requirements with authority. They can tell you all about digestion issues and hoof care.
But the one thing many goat enthusiasts refuse to consider is the one thing goats have provided for thousands of years: meat.
Meat in American cuisine primarily highlights beef, pork, and chicken, but rarely ventures into the more exotic taste of goat. This is a shame, because goat meat (often referred to by its French name, chevon) is a delicacy appreciated the world over.
It’s obvious why meat goat farming has been popular through history. Caprines are well-suited to marginal habitats where cattle would not thrive, resulting in a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to harvesting calories from the available forage. Boer goats, Kiko, Myotonic (Tennessee Fainting Goat), Savannah, Spanish, or any combination of these goat types are ideal meat producers.
Today, goat meat is far more popular with immigrants for whom chevon is the preferred cultural choice — it’s a staple in Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, Greek, and southern Italian cuisines, among many others — but less common among the rest of the country. Goat meat consists of 6 percent of meat intake worldwide. Numbers are not easy to find for American consumption, leading to the conclusion it’s statistically insignificant.
But within niche markets, chevon is increasing in popularity. In 2011, the Washington Post reported, “Goat meat production is ramping up in the United States. The number of goats slaughtered has doubled every 10 years for the past three decades, according to the USDA. We’re closing in on one million meat goats a year.”
Because of their small size, most commercial meat producers won’t touch goats. But what won’t work for commercial enterprises often works beautifully for small homesteaders interested in putting a couple of animals in the freezer every year, particularly those who are unwilling or unable to handle larger livestock. “Goats represent sustainability, without the curse of factory production,” summarized the Post.
Goat meat recipes won’t replace beef or pork in America anytime soon — but it’s well worth considering for a number of reasons:
- Goat meat is more environmentally sustainable than beef. Because goats are browsers (not grazers), they can thrive on land unsuited to beef production. Or — and this is something small landowners are discovering — goats can be pastured with cattle to eat things cows won’t touch (weeds, bushes, undesirable grasses), thus giving extra benefit from the same land.
- Because the market for goat meat is still relatively small, most chevon derives from humanely raised animals rather than massive factory farms. Meat-processing facilities are geared for large animals and since the most a goat will yield is about 40 pounds of meat, slaughtering is usually done by local humane butchers. As a result, almost all chevon is “locovore” in nature.
- It is healthy. Goat meat nutrition has one-third fewer calories than beef, one-fourth less than chicken (and much less fat), and about two-thirds less than pork and lamb.
So why isn’t this über-meat better known and more widely eaten? Much has to do with experience or reputation. In some parts of the world, pungent cuts are preferred. “Caribbean cultures often prize the rankest, toughest bucks beyond their first rut,” noted the Washington Post. “It’s the meat from mature male goats that has the characteristic pungent barnyard aroma.” This, to put it mildly, is a huge turnoff for most American diners.
But chevon doesn’t have to be this way. Meat from kids six to nine months old yields tender, flavorful cuts. Many chefs have taken to kid as their signature meat.
In America, most goat meat comes in two forms. “Cabito” is meat from very young milk-fed goats between four and eight weeks of age, yielding buttery-soft tender meat. “Chevon” is meat from goats aged six to nine months and is more commonly available.
Since goat meat is so lean, the secret when cooking is not to let the meat dry out. Braising or cooking with moist heat, at lower temperatures, preserves the tenderness. Slow cookers, Dutch ovens, and other kitchen aids which keep moisture in with the meat are popular options.
When cooking chevon at home, it will be necessary to remove the caul, the fatty membrane found on goat meat. This can be done using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors.
Goat meat is not as sweet as beef. Because of its savory characteristic, it works well with bold flavors: curry, pineapple, chilies, onion, garlic, wine (red or white), red pepper, coriander, rosemary, etc.
Cuts of meat can be categorized as either quick-cooking or slow-cooking. Quick-cooking cuts include tenderloin, loin chops, and rib chops. As its name implies, tenderloin is tender no matter what and loin chops and rib chops both lend themselves to hot sears, fast sautés, or grilling. “Tender cuts of meat are usually best when cooked by a dry heat method such as roasting, broiling, or frying,” advises the American Meat Goat Association. “Tender cuts of goat meat are the legs, ribs, portions of the shoulder cut, the loin roast, and the breast.”
But the rest of the animal should be slow-cooked. In part, this is because of the large amount of interstitial collagen lacing the cuts. This needs time to break down, and it contributes beautifully to rich, hearty dishes. Some people don’t like the “bonier” nature of goat cuts, but bone will actually help flavor the meat. Place chevon in a slow cooker for several hours, marinating in spicy liquids, and you’ll have ambrosia for dinner.
So are you hyped up to try this delicacy? Consider sampling any of the following goat meat recipes, reprinted with kind permission from American Boer Goat Association’s recipe page:
Curry Goat Meat
- 3-5 lbs. goat meat
- 3 tbsp. curry powder
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 lg. onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Salt to taste or seasoned salt
Clean and wash goat meat. Add curry powder, black pepper, seasoned salt, chopped onion, chopped garlic. Rub seasonings well into goat meat. On a cooking pan, place about 1 tablespoon butter or oil, whichever you prefer. Pour meat into pan with oil while it is still cold. Stir and cook until tender.
Spanish Goat Meat
- 2 lbs. goat meat
- 1/2 c. chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 med. potatoes
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 c. lemon juice
- 1/2 c. vinegar
- 1 tsp. oregano leaves
- 3 cilantro leaves
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 pkg. Sazon Goya (seasonings)
- 2 c. water
- 2 leaves laurel
Take lemon juice and vinegar and wash goat meat. Let meat stand with that for 24 hours. Put all ingredients into large pot. Cover and put on slow heat. Cook until tender.
Spicy Leg of Goat
- 1 leg of goat
- 1-3 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. dried minced onions
Combine salt and cinnamon and rub all over meat. Place in roasting bag in shallow roasting pan with 1-2 cups of water, or a mixture of water and wine. Close and tie bag, cut about six slits to allow steam to escape. Cook until tender or meat thermometer reads 175 degrees F for medium or 180 degrees F for well done. Serve warm with gravy.
Gravy: Pour drippings into saucepan. Add bay leaf and onion simmer gently covered for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water, stir until smooth. Gradually add mixture to simmering pan drippings, stirring constantly. Simmer for another minute or two. Serve.
Did You Know?
Goat meat prices spike around ethnic holidays. Producers are advised to plan accordingly to market their animals. Holidays in which goat is traditionally served include:
Rearing Goats for Meat
We are currently the largest producer of Free Range Dairy Billy Goat Kids in the UK and you will have the opportunity to explore our farm and learn how and why we rear our Billies. Time will be split between discussing the business considerations and opportunities of rearing goats for meat along with the practical farming decisions and practices.
There is growing interest in the fate of the Dairy Billy Kid and more people are embracing kid goat meat as a healthy, sustainable addition to our current meat repertoire. It is estimated that there are in the region of 30,000 billy kids born into the dairy sector each year and it’s about time we gave them a little more thought and stop the waste. In recent years kid goat meat has been embraced in kitchens from Michelin Starred restaurants to home kitchens up and down the country.
The course will start at 9am with refreshments and will be rounded off with a lunch when you try kid meat for yourself! You will be given a print-out summarising the areas covered in the course to take home.
Slow-cooked goat stew
At this year&rsquos Aldeburgh Food Festival, one of the more interesting supplies I managed to get hold of was some diced goat meat. I&rsquod eaten goat just the once - a rather extraordinarily expensive meal I had once in Dubai having gone to speak at some conference or another. I&rsquod never cooked with it before.
Some are calling goat the new - more sustainable - lamb. It&rsquos one of those highly adaptable animals that can eat most things and has a relatively low environmental impact - and since there&rsquos a lot of dairy goats in the UK with demand rising, that means there&rsquos a surplus of male kids that can be raised for meat.
Of course, all of this is context specific. Goat meat is more sustainable than lamb because there is very low demand. If that demand was kicked up to the same quantities because it became hugely fashionable, scale would bring its own unintended consequences. These equations are rarely straight-forward.
This is definitely a stewing meat - goat, not kid. I decided that, rather than going for the obvious goat curry, I would do something with more of a tomato base - although I still wanted a bit of a chilli kick. Cook the meat long and slow. The flavour has an element of lamb, but milder. Certainly not &lsquogoaty&rsquo as you might think.
In any case, the outcome, served with some rice, was a definite success. But let&rsquos face it, this isn&rsquot hard.
Slow-cooked goat stew
450g cubed goat meat
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Few sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato purée
250ml chicken stock
1 pinch Chilli flakes
1 glass red wine
Salt and pepper
200g basmati rice
Add two tablespoons of the oil to a large frying pan and heat over a high heat. Add the goat meat in batches and brown the meat on all sides for a few minutes. Reserve.
Peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, rosemary and the chilli flakes and cook for another couple of minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and boil until nearly completely evaporated. Add the goat meat, tomatoes, tomato purée and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and lightly season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and leave it to simmer very gently for two and a half hours.
Cook the rice in salted water according to the packet instructions. Divide the rice between the bowls, top with the goat chilli and serve.
Adapt the quantities above to fit the quantity of goat meat you have, and freeze any surplus (unless you have a great idea already what to do with any leftover meat).
If you buy a packet of stock, you&rsquoll probably have surplus. If so, freeze it in ice cube trays and then add to meals as and when you need it.
If you&rsquove opened a bottle of wine to use for this, you&rsquoll have more than two-thirds of it left. I can&rsquot think of a single thing you might do with that.
95 Things Goats Can Eat
|Yellow Locus||Poplar Tree Leaves|
|Wandering Jew Plant||Poison Sumac Vines|
|Monkey Flower||Roses – entire Bush|
|Salvation Jane Plant||Peas – cooked|
|Elm Tree Leaves and Bark||Jerusalem Artichokes|
|Black Eyed Susan||Cottonwood|
|Oranges||Cedar Leaves, Bark, and Needles|
|Daisies||Peaches – after removing pits|
|Red Clover||Indian Currant|
|Garlic – in very small amounts and to help naturally prevent worms||Bananas – some goats prefer only the peels|
|Mustard – spice||Oregano|
|Oats – raw or cooked||Pumpkin|
|Oak Tree Leaves||Cabbage|
|Mesquite||Broccoli – raw or cooked|
|Unsalted Sunflower Seeds||Celery|
|Weeping Willow||Raspberry Bushes|
|Black Raspberry Bushes||Wild Tobacco|
Free-range kid goat meat: the sustainable choice - Recipes
If the current over-industrialized state of beef, pork and poultry production is getting your goat, then you may want to consider doing just that.
Many Americans may be more familiar with goat products made from its milk, like specialty soaps and artisanal cheeses (chèvre), and its fibers, which produce luxurious goat hair yarns such as Cashmere and Mohair, but for most of the world, it is goat meat that is top choice. Now, with growing demand from immigrants for whom goat meat is part of their food culture and savvy foodies interested in authentic ethnic cuisines and local sustainable food sources, Capra hircus is starting to stand out from the herd in the US as well.
The Other Red Meat
Goats were among the first animals to be domesticated by humans over 10,000 years ago and today, over two hundred different breeds provide meat, milk and textile fiber for people around the world. Due to the relatively low cost of raising goats, it is an affordable and important resource in many developing countries: According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, nearly 93% of all goat livestock are found in Asia and Africa. As such, an estimated 70% of the world’s population consumes goat meat as part of their regular diet. Though still barely a blip on America’s food radar, more people worldwide eat goat over all other kinds of red meat, and there are plenty of good reasons why you should, too.
Given serious concerns over the environmental and social impact of factory farming – from rampant deforestation for pastureland and the use of grains as animal feed, to pollution from livestock farm waste and fears over the health consequences of antibiotic and hormone use in meat animals – it’s a good time to consider an alternative to beef, pork and poultry. Goat meat may just fit the bill:
- Goats are adaptable to even the most marginal environments and harsh climates, from snowy mountainous terrain to sub-Saharan desert, which means that no clear-cutting of forests for pastureland is required.
- These ruminants prefer foraging for their food among brush, bark and weeds, so the amount of grain they do consume is just 1/3 of that for beef and 1/5 for pork.
- A goat’s willingness to nibble on just about any fibrous plant makes it an effective and natural method for weed control. However, they may damage or kill healthy trees and shrubs, so their areas of foraging must be monitored.
- Although antibiotics may be given to goats for disease prevention or treatment, the USDA prohibits the use of growth hormones. Imported chevon is also sample-tested for drug, pesticide and pollution residue before being allowed into America markets [source: USDA Fact Sheet].
Goat meat is not only a great option as an environmentally friendly and sustainable product, it is also an excellent alternative protein as part of a balanced diet. Compared to beef, pork and chicken, goat has substantially less calories, fat and cholesterol, while providing a good amount of iron and equal protein: