Lamb has often been a traditional food for Easter. My family will be enjoying a grassfed leg of lamb this Sunday, using traditional flavorings. Lamb may just be the most popular meat in the world, enjoyed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, not to mention Australia and New Zealand.
But usually not in the United States. Americans generally dislike lamb, and rarely eat it. Many Americans who taste American lamb find it gamy and not tasty.
But there are specific reasons why some American lamb tastes this way. The right kind of lamb, raised on its natural feed, properly spiced and cooked, is some of the most delicious meat you will ever eat.
The Problems with American Lamb
American lamb used to be wonderful, especially lamb raised in the west, by experienced Basque shepherds. But times have changed.
Most of the lamb in the world is grassfed only. But not in the United States. Most American lamb is finished on grain. This causes the lambs to grow bigger and faster, and increases profits. However, lamb, more than any other meat, tastes like what it eats. Most of the grains fed to lamb are the same GMO corn and GMO soy fed to factory cattle. Grain feeding, in my opinion, totally ruins the taste of lamb. Grass feeding, on rich pastures full of wild herbs, can give a wonderful taste to lamb.
Another problem is that much American lamb comes from breeds developed for wool, not meat. These wool breeds often have a bad taste and smell that meat breeds do not have.
American lamb is also too big, which has a negative effect on taste. The standards as to what can be called lamb are quite lax in the U.S., and older animals can now legally be sold as lamb. The selling of older lambs also contributes to the size problem.
Here is an example. A leg of lamb in the U.S. often weighs eight to ten pounds, or even more. In most other countries, a leg of lamb is closer to four to five pounds in weight.
Lamb also needs to be cooked properly. Traditional cuisines cook lamb with a variety of herbs, spices, vegetables, and marinades that really enhance its taste and provide absolutely wonderful meat. Americans generally do not know how to cook lamb.
The Grassfed Solution
Lamb should only be grassfed, in my opinion. The flavor is far superior, especially if the pasture is good, and it also has the health benefits of grassfed meat. Grassfed lamb can be found in the U.S., though it can take some effort. I have also found good grassfed lamb in the U.S. that is imported from New Zealand. Some imported and domestic grassfed lamb can be incredibly expensive, so it pays to shop carefully and compare prices.
Lamb should also come from a meat breed, rather than a wool breed. There are some breeds that are supposed to be equally good for meat and wool, but I personally prefer the flavor of a meat breed, raised on grass.
I also try to buy meat from smaller lambs, as I find the flavor to be milder and superior. This can be a challenge, but is well worth the effort.
It is also important to know how to cook the lamb, and to use some of the traditional flavorings that have enhanced the flavor of lamb for thousands of years. My cookbooks Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue have many delicious recipes for lamb using traditional ingredients. These include garlic, green herbs such as rosemary and thyme, traditional olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and others.
Here is a link to a recipe for grassfed lamb that I developed for Easter, which is an example of how good grassfed lamb really can be.
Have you ever wondered why the sight, smell, texture, and taste of food is so important to us?
The answer is simple. Our bodies use these senses to decide what food should be eaten, what food should be avoided, to prepare the digestive system, and to tell us how much of a particular food to eat.
That is right, how much to eat. Our bodies do not follow calorie counting charts, but use sensory input to decide what to eat and how much. Every person is different, and our dietary needs vary from day to day. Our bodies have a magnificent system already in place to guide us with certainty as to what and how much we need to eat. Most of our ancestors trusted and used this system, and obesity was very rare.
But there is a problem in modern food that cripples our sensory food input—chemical flavor enhancers that are literally designed to fool and trick our senses, so our bodies think they are eating something they are not.
These chemicals create the equivalent of hallucinations for our taste buds, and appetite regulation system. They are completely legal, and fool the natural system we have for regulating our appetite and desiring food.
The only way to avoid them is to eat real food only, and avoid all factory foods.
Factory Foods Are Designed to Fool Our Senses
The food industry depends on foods raised as cheaply as possible, and demands that these foods have a long shelf life. The problem for the food industry is that the natural taste, sight, and smell of such foods is not very good, and people’s senses would reject them. The first factory foods that were introduced were almost completely rejected by the public, because their senses rejected them.
The food industry turned to science, and science came up with chemical flavor enhancers, and chemicals that change the very appearance, taste, and smell of the food. These enhancers are designed to trick the senses into thinking that a food is much more desirable than it is, and some of them actually make people want to eat more of that food.
Tricking the Eyes
These techniques fool the eyes by using chemicals to change the natural appearance of the food. One example is the use of carbon monoxide gas to make factory meat appear red, rather than brown or gray.
This fools the eyes, which do not find brownish or grayish raw meat appealing.
Other such techniques include putting chemical waxes on fruits, using gas to give a ripe appearance to fruits and vegetables, using chemical dyes in food, and others.
Tricking the Nose
The natural smell of factory food is often very bad. The food industry uses many different chemicals and processing techniques to remove the bad smells, and other chemicals to give a bland or enticing smell. This totally deceives our sense of smell.
Tricking the Taste
The natural taste of many factory foods is vile, and people will not eat food that tastes so bad. But chemicals are used in many products to hide the natural bad taste and add a good taste.
Factory foods are often bleached and deodorized with chemicals, to kill the horrible smell and taste of items like unfermented soy.
Chemical flavor enhancers are added to all kinds of foods. Scientists are able to use chemicals to add almost any desired taste to a particular food, and are constantly developing new artificial tastes. These chemicals not only make the food taste much better than it would naturally, but can fool our bodies into thinking they are eating something they are not. This confuses the digestive system and the appetite.
Chemicals are also added to many factory foods that make people want to eat more of the food, just because of the chemical. This causes many people to overeat, and is believed to be a huge cause of the rampant obesity that plagues the modern world.
When You Only Eat Real Food, It Is Natural to Eat Only what You Need
By avoiding foods with chemicals, we set our senses free to do their job of regulating our diet. It may take a while, but I have found that my senses tell me what I want to eat, and how much. When I have eaten enough of a certain food, I am no longer hungry for it. When I stop eating, I am happy, content, satisfied, and never stuffed or uncomfortable. I have no digestive problems when I eat real food. I can trust my senses to tell me what to eat, and how much, because they are not fooled with chemicals. And my health has improved so much.
As more and more people are giving up factory food for something real, the industry has come up with a sleazy, deceptive argument to get us back to buying their chemical-filled concoctions—guilt.
If you try to avoid toxins, GMOs, chemicals, and try to eat the pure foods of our ancestors, you are a snob, and a bad person.
This is absolute nonsense, and I have written a guest blog explaining why.
The real food movement has become a threat to industrial food producers. People are realizing that real food is much better. Industrial food manufacturers are trying to demonize real food and the people who eat it. They claim:
MyPlate, the new federal guidelines telling us what to eat and how much, will leave you hungry, and malnourished.
The truth of this was brought home to me recently. I had an absolutely delicious meal in a new restaurant. A restaurant that only used organic ingredients. A restaurant that featured grassfed meat, and organic meat. A restaurant that featured traditional food, and boasted about it.
In other words, this sounded like a perfect restaurant for me. And I must say, everything was perfectly cooked, the food was of the highest quality, and everything I ate was delicious.
Yet I left the restaurant much hungrier than I was when I went in, and had to eat a second lunch.
What was the problem? The problem was that the restaurant followed the MyPlate government guidelines in determining the contents and amount of food they served. Guidelines that leave us hungry and malnourished, based on my own experience.
Taste is not enough.
The restaurant served Mexican food, and it was much better than Mexican fast food. We ordered empanadas, which were described as having a wonderful filling of “organic, grassfed, Piedmontese beef,” braised with various vegetables and spices. Sounded delicious. The price was $11.95.
The plate arrived. It contained a single empanada, of medium size, surrounded by empty white plate. Also included was a clump of raw greens, which covered a third of the plate, a small dish of guacamole, holding about a tablespoon, and a couple of tomato slices. A bowl of beans was brought in, which contained about a quarter cup of beans in a broth. That was all of it.
When I cut into the empanada, I realized that there was a lot of empty air under the crust. I looked at the filling, and determined it consisted of no more than a tablespoon of ground beef, and a few tablespoons of finely chopped vegetables, in a small amount of sauce.
Now the empanada and its scanty filling was delicious. It seemed to have been prepared with a very small amount of fat. The tomatoes were good, and the beans, the first beans I had eaten in five years, were very tasty, which was a huge surprise to me. I did not touch the greens, as I did not recognize them, and some raw greens can block nutrient absorption. I finished everything else.
At the end of the meal, I was much hungrier than when I came in.
The meal Conformed to MyPlate Standards
MyPlate essentially demands that we eat mainly vegetables and fruits, filling up on legumes and grains. Very little protein or fat is allowed by these faulty standards.
The meal was almost entirely vegetables and grain, with the crust of the empanada being made of grain. There was far more crust than filling. The meat content, which was no more than a tablespoon, conformed with the low protein standards of MyPlate, and the fat content seemed non-existent, again in conformance with MyPlate.
Why I Was Hungry
I had received almost no fat or protein in this meal, nearly all of it being vegetables and grains, which, while delicious, just did not provide me with the nutrients I needed. I became much hungrier because my body was crying out for the fat and protein it expects at every meal, and because we need good fat to absorb and properly digest nutrients.
This absurd imbalance of nutrients made me much hungrier because the foods it contained needed the fat and protein that were missing to be properly absorbed and digested. When we passed a couple of fast food places on the way home, I got very hungry and wanted to eat their food, which normally never tempts me. When I got home, I quickly ate a fair amount of butter, cheese, and some leftover grassfed beef, being ravenously hungry. Only after I had eaten a lot of this was I satisfied.
The lesson I relearned was this—MyPlate is an unbalanced, starvation diet. Much better to eat the traditional unmodified foods of our ancestors, rich with healthy animal fat.