Two townie girls were shopping the Farmers’ Market. They were looking quite the part in their tiny, little sundresses, their big, black sunglasses and cowgirl boots. (Staunton is a college town, so we get a lot of hip, young customers.)
“So, Dude…you want to get some? Yum!”
“Oh, I don’t know…lamb chops are so good! But, they’re so cute. No, lamb chops are cute…let’s get something else.”
Okay…I admit it...I was eavesdropping…but all I could think was…Seriously?
Now, I’m going to make somebody mad…but…
If you’re vegetarian for religious or health reasons, I totally respect that. If you’re vegetarian for ethical reasons (you think animals are mis-treated and abused and you don’t want to contribute to that) I understand, but you need some further information. But, if you’re not eating lamb chops (or other meat) because you think it’s cute….please, can we talk?
Lamb chops are not (never have been and never will be) cute!
They are, however, nutritious and delicious. Meat (in this case LAMB) provides easily assimilated protein at a level that plant products never will.
Here are a few facts about lamb in general.
Unsaturated fat, which is good for you, makes up for half the fat in lamb. Palmitoleic acid, a 16-carbon monounsaturated fatty acid found in lamb, possesses strong antimicrobial properties.
Lamb also has a high nutritional value and is an especially good source of easily absorbed zinc and iron. The recommended daily allowance provided by a three ounce serving of cooked lamb is 30% for zinc (essential for growth, tissue repair, and a healthy immune system) and 17% for iron (needed for the formation of red blood cells). Lamb is rich in B vitamins, especially B12. One serving can provide 74-100% of the daily requirement for Vitamin B12, which is essential for the body's metabolic reactions. Lamb is also nature's best source for an amino acid called carnitine, which is needed to generate energy from fatty acids. Trace elements such as copper, manganese, and selenium are also found in this meat, and it contains a rich supply of high quality protein.
Lamb is a food you can feel good about eating because today's lamb is low in fat and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. American Lamb Council
On average, a 3-ounce serving of lamb has only 175 calories and meets the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definition for lean. According to FDA guidelines, lean meat has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams (or 3.5 ounces)
Because lamb naturally contains many essential nutrients, it is an easy fit for healthy diets. On average, lamb is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc, and selenium while still being a good source of iron and riboflavin. All of this within an average of 175 calories per 3-ounce serving makes lamb naturally nutrient-rich. American Lamb Board
Here are a few things about the lambs of Homestead Hill in particular.
Honestly, our lambs are never the cute fluffy critters that grace storybook pages. When lambs are born, they weigh between 8 to 10 pounds (sometime we have big singles that can weigh upwards of 15 pounds, but that’s fairly unusual…and not the best thing for the ewe). They’re black and more than a little funny looking. Here read this. Here, read this.
They are on their feet in minutes and as soon as they begin eating, they begin growing. That’s pretty much all they do---eat, sleep and grow. They are kind of cute at this stage, I must say. But, by the time a lamb is six months old, it should weigh over 100 pounds. No longer is there any thought of this creature being cute. Good genetics, ample food and healthy animal vigor allow for great weight gains and good muscling. We don’t raise animals for cuteness…we raise for carcass quality. I'm not afraid to admit...I like "big butts"...read this.
Don’t let the word “lamb” fool you. These are fairly large critters destined for a plate…they’re not friendly or interested in becoming a pet. Folks hear lamb and they think of little Bo-peep and cute little sheep. Wrong! Read this one. But, don’t assume that means it’s mutton. Mutton is the meat of a mature animal (over one year old). The taste and texture are completely different. Lamb should look bright and fresh and fairly lean. The taste is rich and clean and needs very little in the way of seasoning.
|there's more to lamb than just lamb chops|
With the per capita lamb consumption in the US running something like .6 to 1.6 pounds (compared to beef at well over 50 lbs. per person) it’s obvious that lamb is not a staple of the American diet…and many folks have never even tried it. We love lamb in all its various presentations and make it a point to have recipe ideas available for our customers. (I’m working on a page for our website and Tuesday is going to be lamb recipe day on Facebook---check it out))
I’m sorry to say, I didn’t make much headway with the townie girls at the Market. They listened politely, we discussed the pros and cons, and they considered purchasing one of our chickens instead of the cute lamb chops.
…and then bought…..(wait for it)
Because (you guessed it)…they’re not cute.
Maybe next time...