We should eat more goat.
Goat is one of the most popular red meats in the world. Relatively speaking, we barely eat any. In the States, we mostly eat cows, pigs and chickens. I’ve raved about the benefits of all three before. We trust the health benefits of the omega 3s we get from salmon and eggs (yolks and all…those of you still ordering egg whites, c’mon). But science tells us that branching out and broadening our options can result in benefits for our health and well-being, in addition to introducing new sensory experiences. From the Baltimore Sun:
“It’s delicious, and it’s inexpensive, but goat is like soccer in America,” Zimmern said. “It’s growing. We like it, but we don’t get it.” Goat-acceptance, Zimmern said, is a nonissue for most of the world. “It can’t be that 3 billion other people aren’t right.”
Sharing food, and in particular, sharing our cultural foods, creates relationships and transcends boundaries. This makes sense. The first time I tasted goat, it was in a container that one of my closest Dominican teammates brought to the clubhouse. From Richard Wilk:
Your first relationship as a human being is about food. The first social experience we have is being put to the breast or bottle. The social act of eating, is part of how we become human, as much as speaking and taking care of ourselves. Learning to eat is learning to become human.
Clubhouses are unique microcosms of society. 25 (or more) men are asked to live on top of each other for 7+ months. These dudes may not have anything in common beyond baseball, but they need to get familiar with each other quick – they’re about to be a family. Whether we’re sampling tequila from Mexico or the chivo guisado from the Dominican, we have a chance to broaden our food horizons and form a bond with our brothers (and sisters). Why wouldn’t we leap at this opportunity?
I’m often asked by minor league players, readers and friends about eating on a budget. While I am an admitted carnivore and regularly fill my plate with grass fed beef, I understand that it’s expensive. Goat can be an economical way to get similar (or better) health benefits for around $5/lb.
Goat meat has higher levels of iron (3.2 mg) when compared to a similar serving size of beef (2.9 mg), pork (2.7 mg), lamb (1.4 mg), and chicken (1.5 mg). Comparatively, goat meat also contains higher potassium content with lower sodium levels. Regarding essential amino acid composition, goat meat closely resembles that of beef and lamb.
While we’re giving goats some love…male goats get none. From Modern Farmer:
Goat cheese is wildly popular in the U.S. – in direct opposition to goat meat. But “to make cheese you need milk, and to get milk, animals need to get pregnant,” says Erin Fairbanks of Heritage Food USA, an organization dedicated to helping small farmers and creating a sustainable food system. This means that there are many goat kids being born each year that are not needed for milk. “As consumers you’re kind of divorced from these realities,” she says.
The reality is this: Female goats give birth every spring on over 30,000 dairy goat farms in the US, but their babies, particularly the males, don’t have a secure place in the farms’ architecture. To raise these goats, farmers have to feed them expensive milk replacer (basically baby goat milk formula) because the mother’s own milk is being used to make cheese.
So basically, we should eat them. Avoiding creepy, random goats peering in your window is but one reason to include them on your plates.
From the Washington Post:
More good news: Goats represent sustainability, without the curse of factory production. They are browsers, not grazers.
“The meat’s better for you, and the animals are easier on the land,” Adams says. “I can put at most two steers on an acre, but at least 10 goats. Maybe more.”
Out in California in 2008, Bill Niman originally fielded a herd to tend his cow pastures. The goats would even out what the cows mangled, chewing down the less-desirable weeds, giving the plants a haircut before the bovines tromped about.
So it’s good for your social circle, good for your body, good for your wallet and good for the environment. I know you though. You’re all about the flavors. Me too.
Some people have had bad experiences, perhaps offshore during a winter cruise. Caribbean cultures often prize the rankest, toughest bucks beyond their first rut. It’s the meat from mature male goats that has the characteristic pungent barnyard aroma
Pungent not your first descriptive choice for meat? I don’t blame you, but I dig the gamey taste of curried goat. In Inglewood, CA (one of my favorite sections of LA…more on this later) sits a tiny, unassuming strip mall flanked by liquor stores and check cashing joints. In this concrete world lives Front Page Jamaican Grille, and they absolutely slay Inglewood’s urban version of the famous Caribbean dish. By the end of my meal, I was using the light layer of “stick” from my plantains on my fork as glue to pick up the tiniest pieces of the perfectly spiced flesh. Having flashbacks. Mmmmm.
But maybe that’s not your bag (you’re not alone). You can still have goat.
Generally, though, people don’t want that for dinner. The best meat comes from goats that are slaughtered early, usually at six, maybe nine months….
Goat meat is savory and not as sweet as beef. It’s neither buttery nor beef-tenderloin tender, but it offers a wider palette for culinary foreplay in the kitchen. It works well with bold, big flavors, particularly spicy and sour notes.
Various part of the goat can be roasted, braised, grilled or made into stews and ragus. Your options are endless.
But this post isn’t about eating goat. It’s about expanding tastes, pushing boundaries and getting outside of comfort zones. It’s about being less boring and more adventurous.
My dream life (beyond playing in the NFL) includes hunting in the Santa Monica mountains, killing and eating deer, rabbits and maybe mountain lions, fishing in the Pacific and growing my sweet potatoes on my property in rural Malibu. Before I reach that fantasy, I can and will experiment with all types of readily available farm animals, like goats.
Curry, coffee, scotch….let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.