Food - Drink
Is There A Difference Between American And New Zealand Lamb?
By JENNIFER SWEENIE
Lamb has never been the most popular meat in America, but that means that those who love this standout ingredient will never run out of options to choose from. Beyond just the cut or price of the meat, one big decision to make is whether to buy American-raised lamb or imported New Zealand lamb, which have culinary and nutritional differences.
Lamb is often described as "gamey," and New Zealand lamb, which is almost always grass-fed, has an earthier, gamier taste. American lamb is slightly sweet and tastes more similar to beef, and since American animals are fed grain right before the slaughter, a cut of American lamb can weigh up to 50% more than a cut from New Zealand.
New Zealand lamb is also smaller and leaner since the animals are often slaughtered at a younger age; according to countrywide requirements, lambs must be under 12 months old if their butchered meat is to be labeled "lamb." Meanwhile, American lambs can be up to 16 months old before slaughter in order to count as "lamb."
As for nutrition, New Zealand lamb has less fat, fewer calories, and more omega-3 fatty acids due to its grass-fed diet. A 1988 study by the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found that U.S. lambs had less cholesterol, more fat, and less moisture, but there seems to be no difference in protein content between these two varieties.