Goat: The Soccer Of Meats?

With grain prices skyrocketing, corn doing double duty between the gas tank and the table, and beef still reeling from that gigantic recall back in February, the American food industry seems strained, to put it lightly. This might be a good time for a new, more streamlined meat product to start making inroads in the market.

And, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article re-printed in Restaurants and Institutions, that’s just what’s happening with goat meat. Would you call it the soccer of meats? Maybe:

“It’s the No. 1 consumed meat in the world,” said Scott Hollis, a goat specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It’s very popular - except here.”

But that’s changing. As more immigrant groups create demand for the meat and farmers realize there’s money in it, more and more domestic farms are producing goat.

Goat is especially popular with Muslim, Hispanic and some Asian communities, particularly around certain holidays, such as Greek Easter, which was Sunday, Cinco de Mayo, and the end of Ramadan, which comes in the fall.

Until recently, though, it was difficult to find American goat meat. If shoppers found goat in stores, it was likely to be imported frozen from New Zealand or Australia, the world’s largest exporter of goat meat.

That is starting to change as American farmers get into the meat goat biz - which, as it turns out, doesn’t require all that much.

Goats aren’t expensive to buy and don’t need nearly the land that larger livestock does. That means more small-scale “hobby farmers” have gotten into the business as word of new demand has spread.

That also means that, on a large scale, goat is more efficient and less harmful to the environment to produce. Additionally, it’s often slaughtered at small-scale halal operations, which for some reason makes us more comfortable than the giant, industrial slaughterhouses run by, say, Westland/Hallmark.

While goat burgers may not appear on the menu at McDonalds any time soon, we’re glad to see a more worldly, eco-friendly meat treat gaining popularity. A brief internal poll revealed MP staffers overall like the stuff in curries, Jamaican jerk-style, in burritos and whole on the bone. MP Chicago editor Adam Peltz remembered a particularly transcendent cut he ate in Lima: “so i got this amazing leg of kid — so succulent and flavorful for juvenile meat.”

As for us, eight years of vegetarianism stunted our meat discovery growth, but just as it is gaining fans in the American marketplace, goat is on its way to the top of our meats-to-try list. Now, if we could just find a local restaurant that serves the stuff…

THE OTHER RED MEAT? Goats find way to U.S. plates [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
The American Meat Goat Association [Official Site]
Largest Recall of Ground Beef is Ordered [NY Times]
Photo: Mark Verner [Flickr]

Goat: The Soccer Of Meats?