Food and the World – The Domesticated Goat – Migration, Family, Animals – by Elijah Ortega Trimble. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
For my research project I am focusing on the modern domesticated goat, an animal which holds importance to my family. The domesticated goat is the offspring of various types of goats, mostly from Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is now the most commonly found goat in the United States. Goats have been an animal documented as being domesticated as far back as the Neolithic Period, and being low maintenance animals which provide, pelt, meat and milk many early civilizations would capitalize on this cash ‘cow’. It wasn’t until the Spanish conquest that the goats most commonly found in the United States were brought over from Eurasia to the Americas. Goat meat is relatively inexpensive and for the middle to lower class Mexicans it quickly became and continues to be an extremely viable source for meat.
For as long as I can remember my family has raised goats. From the first goat we raised from his birth, bottle feeding him everyday, to his very last days and his burial, I have always had a love and respect for them. After that first goat and the knowledge of how to care for him my father began to seek out numerous goats of all shapes and sizes. There would be many days in which I would come home to my father unloading goats from the the back of his 2008 Toyota Rav 4, mind you a vehicle not suited for carrying such animals, and I would sit there contemplating the motives.
I remember the first time my dad proposed to us the concept of eating one of these pets, I was quite young and not sure I grasped the entire situation, so I had no opposition and was all for the idea. However, my older brothers were not so thrilled. I remember hearing my eldest brother plead to my father to not kill any of our goats, but to no avail. My father had told us that much of his family was coming to town and we were to host a gathering at our home, as it is not often our family visits the United States. Being that our family is quite a large one the task of providing food for everyone has always been an arduous task. Suddenly the reasoning behind my father’s harboring of goats became clear, they weren’t there to be pets, they also served the purpose of sustaining our family. Eventually my brothers got over the fact that we were eating the goats that we helped raise for months, and began to enjoy the various ways in which the meat was prepared. Goats can grow quite large and provide an abundance of meat so for this reason they were perfect for our family to raise. From tacos to ‘caldos’ my family would make sure no part of the goat went to waste. It became almost tradition that goat would be the staple meat at many of our large family gatherings, as it was affordable and fed everyone. Now every time I hear that we are to butcher one of our goats, rather than simply feeling down about the situation for the goat, I am also filled with the excitement and nostalgia of getting to see family members and enjoy the day with people I truly care about.
From Professor Liang’s Fall 2019 Politics of Globalization class. Elijah is a student of GCL and Spanish.
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13 responses to “Food and the World – The Domesticated Goat – Migration, Family, Animals – by Elijah Ortega Trimble. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports”
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It was awesome to read about your experience with domesticated goats and your family. Growing up, every 4th of July we would get Gyros from the authentic Greek food stand that was at the parade each year. I’ve always loved Gyros, which is made from lamb meat. I did not realize this until I got much older though. For a second, it made me question what I was eating. It just didn’t feel right. Then again, I was born and raised in northern Minnesota where deer hunting season is practically a holiday. When you really think about the food you eat, it opens up a lot of room for interpretations like where we get it and how it is prepared. But, I think it is awesome that the goat is so nostalgic for you and your family.
Thanks for the read!
Your article was very interesting to me because I grew up with a different concept. Goat and sheep in my family have always been seen as something to eat. Since we grew up in a more urban area, anytime my parents brought home it was the same idea as yours, there is a celebration bound to happen. Something that I recently found out is that there is a different way of preparing the goat based on certain events. For national holidays goats were slaughters by my uncles whereas for traditional celebrations there had to call in a traditional slaughter. The slaughter was to kill the animal in a human way and without wasting any parts of the animals. The slaughter was then responsible for dividing the meat for different purposes and people based on their title in the family (elders ate different parts of the goat compared to the children). Traditionally as a reward, he (the butcher) would keep the hide, due to its value to the Kikuyu people, but today, they are paid with current currency. Thank you for sharing.
I enjoyed reading your article and about the various perspectives your family members had on eating the goats that your family raised. I find it Interesting to see where people draw the line between pet and food source. While I personally don’t eat meat, I have a lot of respect for the fact that your family raised the animal yourselves instead of it going through the typical industrial-like process that other animals such as pigs and cows go through to be sold in American grocery stores. I also appreciate the idea of not letting any of the animal going to waste. One specific aspect that I think you highlighted really well is the difference of people’s perspective of food. While companies may see an animal solely for profit, families may see it as a source of connection. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for sharing your families story. I am from the twin cities so the idea that you raised goats number one is amazing. I thought the next super cool part about your story is how you changed the way that you perceived the killings of the goats. You no longer looked at it as a sad day that you had to kill your pet, but as a celebration of what that animal gave his/her life for. The goat allowed your family to feed the rest of your family members which is an amazing thing. I thought this story was eye opening because sometimes when you just buy your food in the grocery store you forget that their is someone that had to raise these animals and that they are actual animals rather than just meat.
This is such an interesting research project, and I am super excited to see what more you have to share about the topic. I too remember going to Mexico where my family is from and seeing some of the goats they raised. When I went they had baby goats, and I named one Lupita, and told everyone that it was mine, and be kept safe because I would be coming back to visit her. I was seven and did not fully grasp their purpose. The next time I was back they told me that she was dead and that they had already eaten her. I was sad, but now every year after that, they’ve always tease me about Lupita and her “tragic” death. I agree with you though. It doesn’t make me sad anymore. I know my family, and I know that they need any resource they can get to maintain their family well.
One thing I like about this class is the fact that through everyone’s stories we catch a glimpse of the beauty of different cultures and see the similarities we all share, leaving us feeling connected to the large community of humankind. It hit home when you had said you felt as though the goats where your pets and felt disdain when they slaughtered them because I too had developed the same type of bond with a sheep (which I also wrote about in my project). Goat meat, which is widely popular in the horn of Africa as well, is something my mom would tell me is a healthier red meat with less fat content (cholesterol) which is the for the heart. I didn’t know the basis for that premise until looked further into it and that was actually proven to be scientifically true.
Thank you for sharing your story and the tradition you have started with your family. I am from a farm and I know some people who raise goats. They are some special animals and will eat about anything. Do you drink goat milk? I have never had goat, that is something I will have to try in my life. I think it is great that you raise your own goats and how you almost sacrifice it for a big family meal when you are all able to get together. I think that this makes is much more fulfilling for you raising the goat and then being able to share its meat with your family. Do you butcher your own goats or do you bring them somewhere? This was a fun and interesting article to read. Thank you for sharing.
I love that your older brothers were so against something that you were up for. I am the youngest of three brothers and I could point out a few similar situations in my life. Goat is something that I have not had in a meal before but thinking about it I would not be opposed to trying it. I think an interesting part of your story is that you had a pet that you buried and then you started to see more goats that were being used for sustenance. I wish that when I was younger I had more experience around animals that were produced for food. To date, I have not seen red meat alive before I have consumed it. I have a feeling that it would cause me to rethink consuming red meat…
This is such an interesting post, and it sounds like an equally interesting research project.
I’ve never thought about goats as being such a rich food source before. Where I’m from most of the people who have goats seem to keep them as pets and use them to keep their pastures groomed. Though, some people I know do use goat milk to make cheese and soap. It is interesting to read in your post about what a diverse resource goats are.
Thank you for sharing your research and your story!
Now that I think about, I guess I really hadn’t thought about people eating goat–I’ve always heard of goat’s milk and goat cheese (do you drink/eat this? Or are they only for meat?) and I’ve always known that one could raise goats because I would see them at county fairs growing up. My family used to raise chickens (as pets and for eggs, not for the meat) and we briefly considered getting goats (although they too would’ve been only pets). I think I’m a bit surprised that one goat can provide for so many people, in which case it makes sense that your family would butcher one for a large family gathering. Thank you for sharing this story!
I was not aware that goats had such a large presence in America. Although I have eaten goat before, I just thought that it was mostly a sub-category in terms of meat. Your reluctance to slaughter the goat reminded me of a story my dad told me of his childhood. My dad grew up on a farm, and played with the chickens, eventually befriending one that he named Hilda. A couple weeks go by and his mother decides to slaughter Hilda. She made this decision in the midst of their play session. My dad watched as my grandma killed Hilda in cold-blood. It is sad that animals must be killed, but it is only the circle of life.
Thank you for sharing about your family! I was unaware how prevalent goats were in the Americas. I am half Jamaican and goats are extremely important to the culture down there. I grew up eating my grandmother’s curried goat. It provides excellent nutrition for relatively cheap and my dad’s side of the family grew up eating it because they were very poor. Again, thank you sharing for a great post!