So what month is it?
Goatober, if you’re onboard with what can only be termed a rather offbeat promotion.
The “campaign” is being conducted under the auspices of Heritage Farms USA, which many in the business recognize as a wholesaler of specialty, artisanal and heritage-breed animal foods, mostly marketed to upscale restaurants and urban butcher shops.
I don’t know if Goatober will catch on with consumers, but the marketing effort to popularize goat meat has piggybacked on the cuts, presentation and the menu offerings used to promote lamb: Rack of goat, leg of goat and goat chops are all available at artisanal butcher shops as alternatives for lamb dishes. Proponents swear that the flavor and texture are, in fact, similar to the rich mouthfeel and distinctive flavor characteristic of farm-raised lamb.
Erin Fairbanks, the project coordinator behind what’s called the “No Goat Left Behind” movement, is spearheading a parallel initiative to get foodservice chefs to add goat meat to their menus and regular diners to add it their diets—with good reason.
She calls it “a hard truth” that consumers have to confront: To boost production of the widely popular goat cheese, goat milk production has to increase, which means farmers need to grow their herds and breed more does.
“Unfortunately, after they're born, the male goats, or bucklings, have no role on a dairy farm,” Fairbanks told The Huffington Post. “So most farmers are faced with difficult choices.”
She contended that responsible dairy farmers—especially the artisanal producers who market to an “enlightened” upscale consumer—want all their goats to begin and end life on the farm. However, that’s costly—in fact, it’s impossible—unless the market for goat meat can be expanded, and that’s not possible unless more people are willing to sample goat meat, or chevon, as its more fanciful branding is labeled.
A different breed altogether
Goats themselves are remarkable animals. They can forage successfully on marginal land, and in fact prefer brushy, overgrown fields to manicured pasture.
Although it’s generally expensive, goat cheese is highly nutritious, containing about 8% more protein, 20% more calcium and only 80 calories and 6 grams of fat per ounce, compared with cow’s milk cheese, which contains around 100 calories and 10 g of fat per ounce. Goat cheese also has a distinctive flavor and texture that cannot be duplicated.