Knowing your food and your farmer. We talk about this, but why is it important? So you can support farmers who practice sustainable agriculture that improves the land, soil, and animal health; to provide healthy nourishment for you and your family; and ultimately to glorify our Creator through our recognition and pursuit of food systems that honor His design.
But how can you know if a particular food source is a wise and healthy choice? You start by talking to the farmer who produces it, asking questions that pertain to the type of food you’re buying.
This is the Local Food 101 series, where we’ll cover types of local food, along with the particular questions you can ask to determine the quality of the food being offered. We have discussed chickens and eggs, beef, produce, herbs, and pork. In this post we’ll tackle lamb and goats.
Sheep and goat products are not often sold in grocery stores, but are often readily available locally. Because they are not as commonly raised conventionally, it is often much easier to find them raised with healthier methods.
Living Conditions and Food
How are your animals raised and fed?
Sheep and goats should be grazed on pasture untreated with chemicals. If supplemental food is necessary, it should be non-GMO and preferably certified organic — or known to grown using organic methods even if not certified as such. It should be noted that this standard also includes animal bedding, because it too may also be ingested by the animals.
What do you do when an animal is sick?
While internal parasites may be common in sheep and goats, herbal treatments are preferred and antibiotics and vaccines avoided. Be sure to ask how sickness and parasites are handled by your farmer so that you can be comfortable with the answer.
Butchering and Cost
How are the animals processed? How much does it cost?
The animals should be processed as a batch that doesn't include conventionally raised animals — to avoid cross contamination. Because sheep and goats are not as common, the prices for processing sheep and goats at outside processing facilities may be a little higher.
Flavor and Cooking Options
How do you cook it? Does it taste good? Do you have any good recipes?
Many Americans are timid with using any meat that strays from the common texture and flavor of our good ole' standbys: chicken and beef.
However, lamb and goat meats are wonderful, healthy, and richly flavored. Experiment with and find recipes from other areas of the globe that use these meats all the time, and don’t be afraid to ask your farmer how to cook it. Farmers often lean toward producing foods they love to eat themselves, and they are often willing to share recipes with you!
Recipe ideas: Red Meat Winter Stew (so delicious!) and also you can find a delicious leg of lamb roast in the Fundamentals II module of GNOWFGLINS membership.
How do you cook sheep and/or goat? Feel free to link a recipe! Any other questions you would ask a farmer about these meats?
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