Cheryl Bennett works to win over a nation of lamb-skeptics. As sales and operations manager of Lava Lake Lamb near Sun Valley, Idaho, she shepherds all online sales. And it's not unusual to see her—cowboy boots and all—visiting chefs on their turf extolling the delicious other red meat. What makes Lava Lake Lamb unique is its broader mission of environmental stewardship.
Since 1999, Lava Lake Ranch has preserved and restored thousands of acres of wild landscape and is working to protect natural predators like wolves with nonlethal deterrent techniques. That philosophy immediately appealed to Bennett, who was looking for a change in her life when she joined Lava Lake four years ago. On Lava Lake's organic range, a handful of shepherds and their faithful canine companions watch over the 6,000 free-range sheep that graze on 60,000 acres of natural grasses.
These lambs are never inoculated with antibiotics or growth hormones and, unlike their industrially raised cousins, never step hoof on a feedlot. Their grass-fed diet creates a lean meat with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Being so close to the ranch's day-to-day life and enjoying leg of lamb and lamb burgers is a vital component to the Bennett family's food philosophy. "It's very important to know where and how your food is raised," says the health conscious mother of two. "I see the choice to eat all-natural and organic foods, like our lamb, will serve my kids health in their future."
By Vanessa Chang, a food writer in Salt Lake City, Utah.