The Most Consumed Meat in the World?

Goat MeatOk. I’m a little late to the party on this one. It turns out that the most consumed red meat in the world is… GOAT meat. You probably knew that. But did you know that it is better for you than beef, skinless chicken, lean pork or lamb? It has less fat than skinless chicken and less cholesterol than beef. Though goat meat is a long way from replacing beef, chicken and pork in the American diet, it is making significant inroads for a couple of reasons. The large influx of immigrants from Caribbean, Asia and the Middle Eastern countries along with the yuppies in New England that have established goat as a nouveau trend over the past couple of years.

Lest you think that goat meat is a passing fancy, take a gander at these stats:
According to an article by Richard Mullins in Tampa Bay Online last October, “Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show Texas holds the lead in raising goats, with more than 24,000 goat farms in 2007. But 3,500 goat farms have sprung up in Florida, compared to 1,700 in 2002, and Hillsborough County has more than 180 registered goat farms, home to more than 2,100 goats.”

Richard’s article further points out, “Whether goat ever jumps the cultural divide from immigrant grub to mainstream dinner may turn on what grocers now call “The Food Network Effect.” With a general resurgence in at-home cuisine, new foodies are seeking exotic ingredients they spot on television. Quail egg, squab and urchin have are part of the vocabulary for suburbanites who formerly dined on green-bean casserole.”

“People will watch Iron Chef on Food Network, and they see chefs making something like octopus, and they come in the store the next day asking for a whole octopus,” said Sherry Kelley, a meat and seafood executive at Sweetbay.
“So whatever it is, we try and get it for them.”

Could goat meat be just another fad? For example, a number of years ago, there was a big push to invest in ostrich farms. The projection was that the consumption of ostrich meat as well as their feathers and hides was going to sky rocket. Last I heard, most of those investments didn’t work out too well. Goat meat, however, is likely to be different due to the price being comparable to beef and the greater cultural demand by various immigrant cultures.

Goat meat is leaner and healthier than the more common meats in our diet with less fat, cholesterol and higher protein on a pound for pound basis. Maybe if Mickey D’s and Burger King switched to goat meat burgers they would take less heat for contributing to the obesity of America. However, I suspect that most patrons of burger joints may have some issues getting around the term “goat meat.” Not to worry. Goatmeat is actually known by three other names.

As described by one producer, “To many, the name “Goat Meat” may, for some reason, have negative connotations. This is not warranted when young meat animals are harvested as Capretto. We use the term “CHEVON” for young, yearling goats aged about 7 months to approximately 12 months with live weights from 60 to 120 pounds. These animals, derived from the Boar goat breed or from a cross with a Boar goat, yield a better meat-cut size and a quality of meat more attuned to the American taste buds. Weanling Boar’s of less than 60 pounds are from about 3 months to about 6 months of age and are harvested as whole or half carcasses and termed “CABRITO”, the Spanish word for young goat. Both Cabrito and Chevon make for great dining.”

Depending on where you live, goat meat is not likely to be in your grocer’s meat case. One place that you can go to online is the largest goat farm operation in the Northeast. Gedalias produces and offers every cut of goat meat that you could want. My curiosity is now peaked. I think my first foray in this new culinary adventure will be a Capretto curry and maybe some marinated kabobs. Will report back later on how my adventure turns out. If any of you have a favorite Capretto recipe, please share it in a comment.