No Goat Left Behind: Why Milk Lovers Should Eat Baby Goats
I’m sure most of you never gave it a passing thought, but milking goat owners like me are busy making plans for breeding season. Every September through November is when we caprine dairy people have to make mating decisions so we can have milk come spring. Which can only mean one thing: Babies!!
What’s kind of odd about the baby/milk connection is that most "developed" world citizens don’t quite get the fact that if you want milk … you need to make babies. I mean, there’s no other reliable way of getting a reasonable supply of milk. Not yet, anyway.
Though someday we may be able to simulate Mother Nature’s reproductive hormonal cascade with enough accuracy to "trick" cows, goats and sheep (our primary dairy species) into making milk without having to go to the trouble of producing offspring, at the present we have no viable alternative. Pregnancy is the only way to get a doe (or cow) in milk.
So it is that baby goatlings (properly called "kids" before slaughter and "baby goats" on the plate) are considered a byproduct of the dairy goat industry. Just as veal calves are raised for a time and slaughtered for their tender meat, baby goats receive the same treatment in countries where their meat is prized; but not so much in the U.S. Not unless you happen to live in a city like Miami, where lots of locals are hip to the Caribbean goat meat connection.
Case in point: Last spring I was treated to a meal at famed Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in downtown Miami (DB Bistro), where the special was baby goat with ratatouille. It was the best meal I’d had in months (years?). What a perfect way to salute the animals who give us milk and meat!
So when I received an e-mail from Heritage Foods USA (my go-to source for sustainable meats) on the subject of goat meat, I couldn’t help but blog on it. Here’s how it read:
Dear Heritage Foods USA Supporter,
No Goat Left Behind is a serious project intended to introduce goat as a viable meat product in the United States, while at the same time aiding dairy farms that have little need for male goats. Did you know that in order to produce milk a female goat has to have babies? The result is dairies with a lot of male goats that are currently being sold onto the commodity market or killed at birth.
Together, you and restaurants have the power to move thousands of goats each spring and fall, following the natural breeding cycle of the animals themselves. At $15 per pound for a half goat (about 20 pounds of meat), a family can feed 25 dinner portions, and even more if you consider ragus and meatballs! The result is delicious and seasonal dishes for between $8 and $11.50 per person. A half goat in pieces will fit in any standard freezer.
Each package includes numerous recipes and a DVD with footage of the farms, interviews with farmers and processors, and chefs demoing (sic) the way they would prepare a whole or half goat.
I’m sold! In fact, I’ll be sharing a half-goat with a guy at my gym. Grass fed and humanely raised on the range — it’s what all meat should be. And if it makes you a tad queasy to wrap your head around the concept of eating a baby, consider that those of you who are willing to drink milk are inevitably partaking in this industry anyway. So why not support those producers who are trying to do it right?
Dr. Patty Khuly