The meat of the domestic goat, Capra aegagrus hircus, is a mainstay of food cultures in Mexico, the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia. But do you know why it has never been widely adopted in the United States? This and many more facts about goat meat await you in the article that follows!
If you’ve ever been curious to learn more about how goat meat is used in these various and diverse food cultures, read on. We’ll be covering both little-known culinary facts about goat meat, as well as bits of scientific trivia sure to keep you engaged and entertained.
1. The United States Is A Net Importer of Goat Meat
Despite the hesitance of many native-born Americans to incorporate goat meat into their diets, a growing immigrant population has driven the demand for goat meat sales in the United States. In fact, this trend has been growing since at least 1991, and the presence of a greater diversity of restaurants and food cultures in the past 30 years has been a prime driver for this trend.
2. Goat Meat Can Have Many Different Names
In the same way that meat from a cow can be beef (if from an adult) or veal (if from a young cow), goat meat is referred to differently based on the age of the animal when it is slaughtered. Meat from adult goats is known as chevon, while meat from young goats may be referred to as capretto or cabrito. Occasionally, you’ll also hear goat meat referred to as mutton, a distinction it shares with lamb, as well. (source)
3. Goat Meat Prices Vary Considerably With the Season
Whereas goat meat enjoys a relatively stable price throughout much of the year, the increase in goat meat consumption around religious holidays leads to increased demand from December through February of each year — and this increase in demand is met with an increase in price, too. If you’re looking to try goat meat for the first time, look outside of the holiday season to find the best prices.
4. Goat Meat Is the World’s Most Popular Red Meat
Any readers in the United States and Canada who think of their favorite red meat are likely to come up with one of two options: Beef or pork. But worldwide, goat meat is the clear winner: It accounts for 63 percent of all red meat consumed worldwide. This is due in large part to the role of the goat as the main source of meat in much of the Middle East and Africa, though Southeast Asia and the Caribbean also consume plenty of goat meat.
5. Goat Is A Healthy Alternative to Other Red Meats
Despite its intense flavor, goat meat is one of the leanest meats available for consumption — leaner than a lean meat cut from beef, pork, lamb, and even chicken! A single 3 ounce serving of goat meat contains just 122 calories and 2.6 grams of fat, compared to 179 calories and 7.9 grams of fat in an identical portion of beef. This makes it an easy choice for health-conscious consumers who don’t want to give up red meat, but do want to eat less fat (especially saturated fat), cholesterol, and calories.
6. Goat Meat Is Especially Rich In Minerals
Goat meat has excellent nutritional value. Anyone who is prone to iron-deficiency anemia may find themselves happy to hear that goat meat could help their situation. Compared to beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, goat meat has the highest levels of iron and potassium, as well as lower sodium and cholesterol levels — with a whopping 3.2 mg of iron per serving. Even better, it has a similar amino acid profile as beef or lamb, making it an easy substitute for either of these meats in most people’s diets.
7. Goat Meat Tastes Best When Cooked At Low Temperatures
Because it has such a low fat content, goat meat needs to be handled differently in the kitchen than beef or pork. When overcooked even to a small degree, goat meat will take on a tough, chewy, leathery texture that is quite unpleasant. The solution to this trouble has been a part of ethnic cuisines for generations: Cook goat meat for a longer time over a lower heat, and be sure to include marinades and other liquids while cooking. This will keep the goat succulent and tender while drawing out its best flavors.
8. Japan Has A Curious Way of Serving Goat Meat
Japanese food culture is truly one of the most unique in the world, due in large part to their decades of isolation from the outside world — and the ensuing mix of cultures spearheaded by ending their policy of isolation. Nowhere is this more evident than in their practice of sushi preparation: Originally a dish of thinly sliced raw fish, sushi and sashimi style preparations have now been translated to a much wider array of meats. Even goat meat has received the sushi treatment — sliced thinly and eaten raw, it is known as yagisashi.
9. Goat Meat May Be the Most Sustainable Red Meat
Cattle farming, and meat production in general, has been targeted as a major culprit in the developing climate change crisis, due to a combination of deforestation needed for grazing and methane production. Could goats be a part of the solution while still giving people access to red meat? Some chefs and scientists think so. Because goats are browsers rather than grazers, they have a much less detrimental impact on the land that they’re farmed on — meaning that more goats could be raised in a smaller space, eliminating much of the need for constant expansion of grazing land.
10. Goat Meat Is Both Kosher and Halal
Two groups of people observe specific religious and cultural regulations on what food items may be consumed: Jews and Muslims, with their Kosher and Halal traditions respectively. Sets of guidance on food safety and what is “fit to eat” from the Torah and Quran, these rules place serious restrictions on what sorts of meat each group might eat. Thankfully, goat meat is permissible for consumption in both cultures — making it a popular addition to the holiday table.
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