Getting Your Goat!

It is believed that goats were first domesticated almost 10,000 years ago, and most likely in Asia Minor. The most recent genetic analysis confirms the archaeological evidence that goats can be traced back to the wild bezoar ibex of the Zagros Mountains in southwestern Iran. The Spanish explorers introduced goats to North America in the 1500’s, and in the 1600’s, the English settlers brought them to New England. Today they inhabit every continent…okay, except for sub-zero Antarctica. In fact, there are about 840 million goats kept around the world in wide ranging conditions, from humid tropical rain forests to hot dry deserts, and even in the thin atmosphere of high altitude regions.

Humans have long relied on these animals for their meat, milk, and as a source of fiber. In fact, the most consumed milk around the world comes from goats. So beyond their popularity and their ability to adapt to different conditions, what else is so special about goats? Plenty! Aside from the fact that studies have shown that goat milk is higher in protein and lower in fat than cow’s milk, these agile, sure-footed, foragers will eat a wide variety of plants, unlike grazing cattle. It’s like having a car that runs on most any fuel that ends up in its tank! Goats are smaller and require less land to raise than cattle, produce less climate changing methane than cows, contain only 16% of the saturated fat in beef, and somehow even found their way to yoga classes! And, did I mention the “kids” are adorable!

The consumption of dairy goat products is greatest in Asia, with Europe, having the most organized market for goat milk products, especially France, known for its cheese making prowess. However, consumer demand is steadily growing in the United States, and goat cheeses can now be found in many food markets. The tangy flavor is both recognizable and distinct. As far as the consumption of all meat is concerned, 63% of the world’s population eats goat meat, while Americans tend to prefer chicken as their white meat and beef as their primary source of red meat. Despite the American dedication to the tried and true, there is a steady rise in goat meat consumption which is not attributable to just a growing ethnic population. Indeed, goat farms are becoming an intrinsic part of the American landscape, including New Hampshire.

Main Street Cheese is a woman-owned goat farm located in Hancock. It’s a licensed goat cheese-making operation committed to the craft of producing artisan cheeses, while employing sustainable farming methods to raise their goats. Sarah Laeng-Gilliatt, is passionate about her work, and dedicated to the concept of equitable and local food production. Her vision: “I love cheesemaking—you get to attend to the curds and whey, feel them, notice how they are different or not from the previous batch, participate in the complexity of the microbial processes that unfold before you, inquire into various dimensions of cause and effect. It’s one of those processes, like art, where you can keep seeing how presence matters; reverence in the process inevitably yields a more wonderful cheese. I hope that love carries all the way through; may the eater experience all that aliveness—the sheer pleasure, the celebration, the love for life. That is my wish.”

Sarah’s farm is a reflection of her dedication and attention to details. She is also committed to holistic livestock management by providing the goats with plenty of access to pasture and establishing a rotational grazing plan to build the soil and sequester carbon. All of this passion translates into quality artisan cheeses and other goat products that are available in the farm’s honor-system shop where you can purchase fresh and aged cheeses, as well as goat meat (various cuts), and frozen, prepared stews and curries. The shop is open 8 am - 8 pm daily. This year they will also be adding bloomy-rind brie, and hard cheese to the roster.

There are also numerous fun and educational events being planned for the summer months. Beginning in June, you can participate in cheese tasting, a food feast, walking tours, and a host of other activities. Starting on June 1st, you can even enjoy a visit with the adorable, newly arrived goat “kids!” You can find the specific dates and times, as well as learn more about all the farm’s products and upcoming events at: https://www.mainstreetcheese.net/index.html. You can also visit their Facebook page or email them at: mainstcheese@gmail.com