DEER PARK, Wis. – “Goatober” is just what one might guess it is – a celebration of the goat, in particular goat meat, in the month of October.
The goal of the month-long international celebration is to encourage restaurants to put goat on the menu, or have people cook goat at home. Goatober started in 2011 in New York. It has now grown around the globe to include events in London, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Trinidad and Tobago.
The celebration began as an effort to extend the lives of male dairy goats and to put a delicious ethical meat on the menu. It brings together goat farmers, non-profits, chefs and others who are passionate about ending food waste in dairy-goat farming.
Goatober aka “No Goat Left Behind” was the brainchild of Heritage Radio Network former-executive director Erin Fairbanks and renowned New York cheesemonger Anne Saxelby. They launched the initiative together with Heritage Foods to address the growing problem facing New England dairy-goat farms – which was what to do with male goats. Male offspring create a dilemma for dairy farmers. They obviously don’t produce cheese and unfortunately there is no well-established humanely sourced market for American goat meat. From that senseless waste Goatober was created – and with it a month-long celebration of putting goat meat on the menu of New York’s best restaurants.
There are now more than 100 restaurants involved in Goatober, from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Goatober will be celebrated throughout October at the Farm Table in Amery, Wisconsin, featuring goat meat from Cylon Rolling Acres in Deer Park.
Goat meat rare in United States
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It’s difficult to find goat meat in the grocery store. And if a store does carry the meat it’s likely imported meat from thousands of miles away. Nearly all imported goat meat comes from Australia – 98 percent at 40 million tons. Imported meat from Australia to the United States has doubled in the past 10 years, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.
While some may never have eaten goat meat before, it’s a popular meat throughout the world. In many cultures goat meat is a common staple, including people with family origins from the Middle East, India, Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. It’s often a special feature during family holidays or celebrations, or even a common ingredient in the kitchen for everyday meals.
Goat meat excellent for nutrition
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, goat meat has excellent protein content -- similar to beef -- but has fewer calories, and less fat and saturated fat. Because of its leanness it needs to be cooked with care; slow roasting is a great option. But it can also be grilled and cooked other ways.
Often goat meat is compared to lamb. While many lamb recipes can be interchanged with goat meat, the flavor is much milder. The cuts are the same as lamb, but expect smaller sizes because goats are smaller animals than lambs. It’s more similar in texture and flavor to beef.
Visit Goatober.com and CylonRollingAcres.com/farm-blog for goat recipes. The cookbook “Goat: Cooking and Eating” by James Whetlor also has recipes. He’s one of the Goatober coordinators; he won a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for the book.
Leslie Svacina is a farmer, the owner of Cylon Rolling Acres near Deer Park, Wisconsin. Visit www.cylonrollingacres.com for more information.