Tuesday, November 30, 2004

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It's all about the goats

Andrew Martin has a fascinating front-pager in today's Chicago Tribune about how rising immigration from less developed countries into the United States is altering the mix of goods that American farmers cultivate:

A growing demand for goat meat among New York City Muslims has been a boon to a livestock auction tucked away in the middle of Amish country.

Here, where a covered shelter in a parking lot keeps Amish buggies dry when it rains, Mohammad Khalid arrives from Queens every Monday morning to buy as many as 50 goats, which end up in the meat case of Queens Discount Halal Meat by Wednesday afternoon.

"A good goat is a Boer goat," said Khalid, a Pakistani immigrant, pointing to a redheaded goat standing in a pen with his other purchases, all of them bleating and staring nervously at their new owner. "It's very good meat. Tender."

Khalid is one of a handful of Muslim buyers who trek to New Holland every week to buy goats and, to a lesser extent, sheep, for Muslim markets in New York and other East Coast cities.

While the idea of eating goat is considered distasteful by some in the United States, goat is the primary meat dish in many parts of the world. With the number of immigrants arriving from the Middle East, Mexico and Asia surging, so, too, does the demand for goat meat.

According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, which the Department of Agriculture publishes every five years, goats are among the fastest growing sectors of the livestock industry. The number of goats raised annually for meat increased from 1.2 million to 1.9 million--a jump of 58 percent--from 1997 to 2002. The number of farms that raise meat goats grew to 74,980 from 63,422.

"If you want to know who eats goat, it's anybody but white people, descendants of Northern Europe," said Susan Schoenian, a sheep and goat specialist with the University of Maryland extension service. "Now all the immigrants come from every other part of the world, and they all come from goat-eating parts of the world."

Many Muslims and Jews, for example, don't eat pork and Hindus and Sikhs do not generally eat beef.

"Goats cut across all religions," she added. "There's no taboos against eating goats. They are raised all over the Third World because they don't need a lot."

....by far the biggest state for goat meat--those raised specifically to be eaten--is Texas, where 16,145 farms reported raising 941,783 goats in 2002, according to the agriculture census. Texas is also the home to the nation's largest goat auction, in San Angelo, where many of the goats are shipped south to Mexico.

Since goat meat is better for you than other forms of meat -- the fat content is 50%-65% lower than similarly prepared beef while the protein content is roughly equal -- someone should be promoting the Goat Diet.

posted by Dan on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM


The greeks certainly eat goat. It probably is only a small area of northern europe that doesn't.

posted by: Claire on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

The first step in promoting the Drezner Diet would be to stop calling it "goat" and start calling it "mutton." Doesn't sound a whole LOT tastier, but gets over a certain psychological hurdle. Step two would be pushing the slow-cooking method necessary to break down this stringy, tough meat into something most Americans could handle, at the same time disguising the strong taste most would say they don't like.

Me, I've had some good mutton in South Asia but never really got over the sense of revulsion caused by seeing one or two live goats tied up next to a meat stall in the morning, then passing by the same spot later in the day, greeted by hanging carcasses and decapitated goatheads on the counter (proving "freshness").

I'll be sticking with the New Zealand or Icelandic lamb for the foreseeable future. Baah (but not humbug).

posted by: Kelli on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Problem with goats: they stink to high heaven.

posted by: Klug on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Headline: Things are looking ba-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-d for American Goats

posted by: Bithead on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Kelli -- Mutton is sheep, not goat.

posted by: Tim on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

So, how does goat taste?

posted by: JakeV on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

The Goat Diet: eat everything in site - tin cans, vinyl siding, you name it. Sounds like the next new fad.

P.S. How does goat taste? It tastes just like chicken. (c:

posted by: uh_clem on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Dan clearly has a goat fetish. Run a search on the blog site for the word "goat" and see the pattern of various gratuitous goat mentions.

posted by: Moonhawk on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Goat meat is called "chevon" and tastes like a cross between beef & venison.


posted by: C Lofty on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]


The few times I have tried Ostrich meat at trade shows were great. Where's the ostrich industry babee?

It's lean. It's tender.

posted by: Brennan Stout on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Order a mutton curry dish in a 3rd world country and see what you get. Oh, and be sure to pronounce it correctly--"mudton" or thereabouts.

How's it taste? How about roadkill?

C Lofty,

Just for fun, where exactly is it called chevon?

posted by: Kelli on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Odd. I've had goat, both slow-roasted by friends of mine, and as curry at a local indian place, and it's never tasted bad, let alone like roadkill. Nor was it tough or stringy (though if you roast it too long, it gets dry, like any other meat).

Then again, some people don't like lamb, or liver, either.

posted by: Sigivald on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Clem -- gotta say that your goat diet sounds a lot like the "beagle" diet. And everyone knows that begales are only fashionable with center-right bloggers who, much against their will, vote for Kerry.

Seems like the "goat" thing is an attempt at rebranding...

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

In these sentimental times, I'm afraid the test for edibility includes, "how smart is it?" Or at least how smart does it seem to be when you meet its eyes?

Goats are way up the livestock range of the IQ scale. The configuration of their eyeballs -- rotated 90 degrees from ours -- would also give your typical shepherd pause.

posted by: Jarrett on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

My north midwestern farming relatives sell most of their goats (one at a time) to Mexican migrant field workers, right from the barn. They never advertised or announced; the migrant families approached them.

"...goat-eating parts of the world." (n'yuk, n'yuk). Sorry - just struck me as funny. Make a great title for a graphic.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]


From personal experience, I recommend you the "Cabrito Norteno"
(goat stew cooked in beer, vinegar, onion and spices) at El Chalan, a Peruvian restaurant located 1924 Eye Street, NW.

posted by: amusedfrog on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Great, more happy immigration news. Right after a Hmong immigrant kills six native Americans (and I don't mean Indians). Anything to keep the smiley face on the immigration disaster.

I wonder if the four 9/11 guys who were based in San Diego enjoyed goat in the Arab immigrant community that helped them (with jobs, places to stay, but without knowing the plans of course) during their all too brief sojourn in our country.

Just as an empirical note, I would bet that the increased awareness of food brought about mainly by a few Americans and European chefs increased US crop diversity by an order of magnitude compared to the immigrant effect. Arrugala, field greens, chantreles, ceps,fresh basil,kiwi fruit etc etc. are all foods we got into eating from the trade in goods and ideas -- without the negative externalities of people.

And one more thing, they Muslims slaughter the goats just like hostages. Adds a whole new level of meaning to those internet rituals, don't it.

posted by: stari_momak on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I have enjoyed curried goat at a Jamaican restaurant here in Lancaster, PA, a few miles southwest of the livestock auction portrayed in the Tribune article.

posted by: Dave Straub on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

By the way, "stari_momak" needs to go troll elsewhere. I hear there's a popular place called FreeRepublic that's always looking for xenophobic jackasses.

posted by: Dave Straub on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

xenophobe and jackass -- great! mr. pigeon

posted by: stari_momak on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Oops, I was thinking taube -- what the heck is a straub, anyway?

At any rate, Mr Straub would probably love the Jamaican gansters here in London -- heck, whats a few extra dead bodies -- them yardies sure know how to cook a goat. And you might want to move personal insults off list.

posted by: stari_momak on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]


'Chevon' was introduced during various marketing campaigns as a way of promoting goat meat as part of French cusine to Americans. It didn't work obviously.

posted by: C Lofty on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

one interesting item is that if you are ever in a chinese country(china, taiwan, singapore, hong kong, etc.), anything you see translated as lamb is more than likely goat. the chinese word "yang2" is usually translated as "sheep" by westerners, but more accurately refers to goats. in the chinese zodiac, it is actually the year of the goat though it is translated as the year of the sheep for westerners who have an aversion to goats. goats are seen as strong while sheep are meek.

posted by: hobie on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

from the article:

>"If you want to know who eats goat, it's anybody but white
>people, descendants of Northern Europe," said Susan Schoenian, a
>sheep and goat specialist with the University of Maryland
>extension service. "Now all the immigrants come from every other
>part of the world, and they all come from goat-eating parts of the

Where do they dig up these "experts"?

I was born a redneck bubba an' I first had BBQed goat around 1954 in the middle of Arkansas.

Goats are lawn mowers, underbrush hoggers, guard animals (if you teach the herd to mob), an' a good meal, all rolled into one.

Thing about goat marketing is the meat don't keep worth a hoot.
Slaughter 'em with the fire built an' cook 'em on the spot.
Don't let a carcass hang around, even in a freezer.

They don't eat tin cans, they lick the glue on the labels.
An' they don't taste like chicken. They taste like goat.

posted by: fub on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I've had goat a couple of times. First during survival training at SF school, and second while working with the Botswana Defense Force. Didn't get much of a taste the first time, but the BDF guys bought a goat (we helped skin it) and cooked it in their own way and it was incredible. Peppery and delicious.

posted by: Snake Eater on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Living in a "multi-cultural" area outside of DC, the local warehouse supermarket always has goat meat (Shoppers Food Warehouse). Very dark, purple meat. Reminds me of puffin in looks, but not taste (ducking from the animal activists, and believe me, goat tastes much better than puffin). Mostly eaten by folks from Central America, and Jamaica.

Going to the local Restaurant Depot with a friend who has a card to get in (only for those in the business), we were amazed at the stack of goat carcasses in burlap in the freezer section, wondering what restaurants bought them.

As far as Icelandic lamb goes (sorry, I am very biased, I used to live there - see the puffin comment above, and NZ lamb isn't even a close second), it is the best there is, usually available at a high price at Whole Foods Market. However, Iceland has no goats I've ever seen, but there are locations named for them (such as Gaethals - goat's neck - where the big antennas are east of town).

posted by: R Gardner on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I'm one of those new goat ranchers, based on the story's 1997-2002 timeframe. My wife and I switched from sheep to Boer goats back in 1998, and it has worked very well for us. Out here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, there has long been a demand for goat, due to the number of Latin American and Sikh immigrants, and it has only gotten better since we got into the business.

As to that "expert" in the story who said "it's anybody but white people, descendants of Northern Europe", I will simply assert she is no expert. My family comes from Ireland, and my immigrant mother was thrilled when we told her we would raise an "Easter kid" for her. Similarly, we have French, Italian, Greek, Armenian, and other locals who also buy goat. Most meat goats (as opposed to hair goats like Angoras) require protection from cold and wet, so I expect that might explain the relative scarcity of it in some European diets.

In response to the disparagement towards goats and goat meat in the previous comments, I'll make tow simple points:

1. Goat meat need not be tough. Goats grow like sheep. If either animal gets old, the meat gets tough. That's why the grocery store calls it lamb rather than mutton. We sell our market goats by 8 months of age, and they compare very favorably with milk-fed veal or the very best lamb. And that comes from a man who still raises a lamb or two a year for the freezer, and has *visited* New Zealand and Ireland and tasted the best lamb they have.

2. Most goats don't smell. Billy (or buck) goats do smell. They smell because they have musk glands and some unsavory habits such as peeing and ejaculating on their own faces (yes, buck goats masturbate. More than you did when you were 14. Much, much more.) Thus, you segregate the few bucks you need, far from your house. Boy goats you don't need for breeding become "wethers". I'll leave it to your imagination what that entails. Wethers don't smell. When it's time to buy or breed a new billy, the old one goes to either a ranch that has unrelated bloodlines, or to the meat renderer.

posted by: Kieran Lyons on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I am from India. I had never had lamb until I came to this country. Never really liked it either. Too "gamey" for my taste. Good goat meat is great! It looks AND tastes like really tender lamb, WITHOUT the stink. I had no idea it was more healthy than beef/lamb. That is a bonus!

Someone mentioned the color of the meat. The best goat meat looks pink and brown--never red! If it is red, it is going to be too tough to cook.

When I make goat meat curry, I only need to tenderize it for 10 minutes in the pressure cooker. Get more recipes at http://bawarchi.com/contribution/ , a site I visit very often. It has many Indian recipes contributed by ladies in the Indian diaspora.

posted by: AP Reggae on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]


Mutton is lamb, look in the dictionary, somehow it got associated with goat in India.

Most Indian cooking is done with pressure cookers, meat cooks faster and is very tender.

In an Indian curry, with all the spices, I can't actually taste the difference between beef, lamb and goat.

Different meats cook better at different altitudes, Kashmiris eat more lamb than goat, people from New Delhi eat more goat.

Finally, I dont notice it, but beef aledgely has a smell that people who don't eat it regulary notice.

posted by: lyndon on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I like goat meat! If you've never tried it before, go on your county's farm tour. The local goat farmers will probably giving out little samples of tasty goat. I also recommend the goat rotis sold over by the CN Tower in Toronto....

And no, we won't call it mutton. First off, it's hard enough to find mutton in the US as the FDA doesn't like speaking selling old sheep meat. Second, it's not _at all_ the same thing in texture or taste. Like calling beef chicken.

posted by: Maureen on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Goat meat is fabulous! Ever have "cabrito," the Mexican or Tex-Mex version? Like lamb, only richer, and cooked until it is fork tender. Give it a whirl if you get the chance! Since leaving my native Texas to go to grad school, I haven't had any real cabrito -- maybe it's harder to find on the East Coast. Anyway, here's an article about it from Texas Monthly:


Recipe here:

Also makes, BTW, good barbecue.

posted by: Mad Minerva on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

The reason goat's called mutton, at least in South India, is that there is no difference between goats and sheep, as far as the language goes. It's both Adu. Sheep meat is called mutton as well, if you can get it. I kept trying to figure out how they accounted for the obvious difference in appearance; the answer I invariably got was that the things we call sheep are what goat look like when raised in a cold place like one of the hill stations. Insisting they're entirely separate species is as silly to them as insisting that Angus and Hereford are entirely separate species and shouldn't both be called "beef" to us.

Goat meat, which I generally had *not* pressure cooked and *not* in a curry, but rather as "goat 65" (sauteed with chili powder) or cooked in goat-broth soup, tastes excellent. Doesn't stink at all (only stinks just after being killed, which is probably the same for every animal). The closest taste analogy for me would be something between teal (duck) meat and rabbit, although it's not quite either one (and definitely not tough or stringy -- what kind of terrible cook do you have?). And, they're animal-lover-friendly, there -- they're all free-range!

posted by: Adrianne Truett on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Thanks for the link AP Reggae, and thanks for the story Dan. It's difficult to find decent goat meat here in New Orleans, but I try every once in a while. My neighborhood Indian restaurant has a side venture catering to Indian shipwrights at Avondale Shipyards, and they sometimes have leftover goat curry for their daily lunch buffet. It's one of my favorite meats, for the reasons already mentioned in the article, and in prior comments.

posted by: Robert on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I've never met a goat that didn't try to eat the clothes I was wearing. Eating it out of sweet revenge would probably make it taste good.

posted by: Kaz-Man on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

I'm Anglo and I like goat meat too. Eating fresh cabrito in a good Mexican restaurant is a great way to spend an hour or two.

I've also had great stuff like pregnant shrimp and Snake in China. It's all about how you cook things....

posted by: Daniel Calto on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Gotta agree with Mad Minerva - cabrito is the best! 'Cabrito' is actually Spanish for 'little goat', or kid. Not as tough and stringy as some of the old ones get. Like the difference between 'mutton' and 'lamb' - and there is a difference, believe me.

And the bit about 'white folks' not eating cabrito? Obviously the opinion of one of those damnyankees (yes, it's one word) from back east who don't know any better. In Texas, everybody eats cabrito - Mexicans, Blacks, Germans, Polish, Alsatians, etc. I'm Anglo, and my family has been eating goat since they settled in Texas in the 1830s. For family reunions every 4th of July, my great uncle Earl Buckelew would butcher a calf and a couple of goats, and barbeque. Put 'em on about 6 AM, and let 'em slow cook all day, basting them frequently with his 'secret basting sauce': a mix of his own herbs and spices, oil, and beer. Make sure that for every half-bottle that goes in the basting sauce, that the other half goes in the cook - enough beer guarantees tender meat you can cut with a fork. Now that's living!

And for the gourmets, just visit one of Houston's local restaurant chains, Pappasito's, and you can order cabrito.

posted by: TheOtherClaire on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

Agree with the last poster. Apparently, this is big news in Chicago, but same old same old down here in Texas. They are so backward up there ;)

posted by: Don Mynack on 11.30.04 at 10:17 AM [permalink]

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