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 Touchy Subject: Alpaca Meat
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5 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2005 :  05:24:47 AM  Show Profile
I realise that this is probably a pretty touchy subject,but I'm curious as to why the practice of eating alpaca meat hasn't followed the animals from South America to North America. Any thoughts? Is it because they are worth too much money in North America?


241 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2005 :  07:10:45 AM  Show Profile
We are just not hungry enough yet.

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4103 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2005 :  08:24:35 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message
Hi, and welcome to the AN Forum! Your question is a very good one, and one that has been discussed in several online forums. My feeling is that there are several reasons why alpacas are not considered edible here at this time. First, Americans are very finicky eaters. We have pretty entrenched ideas (except for gourmands, of course) as to what we will accept as food. Americans will travel the world over and not touch "foreign" foods. Second, of course, is the expense of the animals. I'd have a difficult time justifying a $10,000 hamburger! Third is the cute factor. One of the most common responses to a person's first view of an alpaca is "how adorable" they are. This is why most Americans (not all, certainly, but the majority) won't eat cute little bunnies or -- more recently -- reindeer, which is another new industry in this country. We're a very sentimental nation, I think, and have a very limited imagination when it comes to what meats are appropriate (for which I personally am grateful!)

The day may come when alpacas are as common as sheep or cattle, and we begin to experiment with alpaca meat. However, that transition would take a good deal of consumer education. Remember that the emu and ostrich industries, which were intended to provide meat options for the American public, failed ultimately because they could never convince Americans to try their product. It would take a concerted effort by breeders to convert alpacas to a food source, and since most alpaca breeders currently shudder at the notion, I doubt it will ever happen.

Judith Korff
LadySong Farm
2723 Bunker Hill Rd.
Randolph, NY 14772
(800) 207-9475
A Holistic Management Farm
It's Not Enough to Have a Map; You Need a Destination!
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5 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2005 :  3:43:07 PM  Show Profile
My family raises sheep for meat, so when I started telling them about alpacas, the question they all asked me was, "Can you eat them?". I was curious, so I thought I would look into it a bit. Certainly price is a major consideration. I'm interested in the psychology behind the 'too cute' factor, though. Most breeder websites I've seen are pretty clear that alpacas are 'not for eating'. Are alpacas mostly a 'hobby farm' industry? I suspect(and I could be totally wrong on this) that a lot of alpaca owners don't have a livestock farming background, so the idea of eating their animals (pets!) is quite unnatural to them.

Is there anyone in the industry that *does* eat the occasional alpaca? What if you just can't get rid of that fibre boy, and he's eating more than he's bringing in from his fleece? Are "alpaca-eaters" blacklisted in the industry? I'll bet just by posting this thread, more than a few breeders wouldn't want to sell me their stock (despite the fact that I haven't said I plan on eating alpacas!).
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4245 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2005 :  4:47:25 PM  Show Profile
One other thing to consider is that many people entered this industry because it is a livestock that you can raise and not have to slaughter. I think cows are cool, I love beef, so I wouldn't want to be in that business. Same with sheep.
If I ever go to Peru, I'll try alpaca, and would bet it tastes like chicken.
There ar those that consider alpacas to be an exotic pet, so the fiber boys that end up being "hay burners" have a home.
I would imagine that in 20 years, they will occasionally be eaten in this country, but by then I'll be in the Bahamas with a drink with an umbrella in it.

Rick & Pati Horn
All American Alpacas
35215 Avenida Maņana
Murrieta, Ca. 92563
(951) 679-7795
Life is good!
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