Connecting Gate to Plate Blog

Lamb lessons for dietitians: Episode 89


Did you know that a three ounce serving of lamb delivers 23 grams of protein – almost 50% of your daily protein needs? Lamb is a great meat, but largely misunderstood. Michigan farmer Elaine Palm wants to change that.

She is a partner on her family’s farm in Michigan, where she and her two parents raise sheep for meat and for breeding stock, plus the crops and pasture that support the sheep flock. She and her husband Rick have goals to raise their new baby on the farm. Like many farmers, Elaine and Rick have careers off the farm and spend many mornings, evenings, weekends and vacation days building the farm business.

Elaine shares “When people find out I raise sheep, I get two main questions: ‘Oh, like for the wool?,’ and, ‘Oh, how can you eat those cute little things?’ When people think of the image of a lamb, I think they’re often thinking about newborns at around 8-15 pounds, which can be a barrier to considering putting lamb on your plate. However, the reality is that a lamb is any sheep under one year, and lamb meat comes from animals that have, literally, more meat on their bones. Lamb meat is varied across the industry depending on age, breed type, size and body composition at the time of marketing a lamb. Lamb is often used as a specialty meat for holidays, celebrations and special events, but lamb is a great choice for lean protein any time!”

She also wants dietitians to know the choices that farmers make in their business practices allow for more choice in the marketplace. “Just because I might farm one way doesn’t mean that everyone should. We do what works best for our family, and we’re always adapting. And all of the overwhelming options in the stores…or at farmers markets, on-farm markets, wherever you’re buying food…they all come from the diversity of farm products and farm practices. That should be celebrated!”

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