Valley Bounty: Lamb

In many traditionally English-speaking nations, the term “lamb” applies specifically to meat from sheep less than a year old, while “mutton” refers to meat from adult sheep. In the US, lamb is an uncommon protein (we eat more than 100 times as much beef per capita as we do lamb) and mutton drastically even less so. As far as I can tell, mutton consumption per capita in the US isn’t tracked separately from lamb, though I did discover that the legal definition of “lamb” in the US Legal Code is alternately “meat produced from sheep” (which presumably would include mutton) or “meat, other than mutton, produced from sheep,” in different sections (I was unable to find a legal definition of “mutton”).

There are plenty of cultural, historical, and economic factors that play in to the relatively low rate of consumption of lamb as a meat in the US, but if you walk around your local farmers’ market that disparity might seem less evident than at a conventional grocery store. Plenty of local farms are raising sheep for wool and meat, and local lamb is widely available. If you’re not super familiar with lamb, try grilling or frying a couple lamb chops this weekend. Personally, I’d skip the mint jelly and just go with a little salt and pepper, that’s usually all it needs.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)