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The Tender Story of Icelandic Lamb

Icelandic lamb is a wonderfully flavorful, exceptionally lean meat from animals raised with no antibiotics, ever and no added hormones. Pesticides and herbicides are seldom used in Iceland where the climate naturally protects the land. All in all, Icelandic lambs are amazingly robust and live in an idyllic, geographically isolated country' whose strict agriculture regulations protect the integrity of the lamb you are buying.


This blog post previously contained an outdated video about a supplier. We have removed the video to prevent confusion. We have always believed in and fought for the improvement of welfare for farm animals industry-wide, and all the pork, beef, chicken and turkey in our fresh meat cases comes from producers who have achieved certification to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step® Animal Welfare Rating system.


 In early fall, farmers mount spirited, pony-sized Icelandic horses and ride high into the mountains to collect their lambs. Although the lambs wear tiny identifying markers, their owners often recognize them by sight—even from afar. This annual event, called réttir, culminates in a celebration with singing, dancing and traditional delicacies such as lamb soup. But since roundup only happens once a year, fresh Icelandic lamb is, alas, only available from September through early December. Iceland has always been a leader in sustainability, and remains one of the purest environments in the world. There's little pollution. And farming is conducted in a way that preserves the land for future use, incorporating aspects of social responsibility. Through a special arrangement with Iceland, this superb lamb is exclusive to Whole Foods Market. We couldn't be prouder, or more delighted, to offer it to our customers. Note: Icelandic Lamb is not available in all of our stores. Check with your local store for availability, and you should find it in our stores in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, North Atlantic, Florida, South, Southwest, Southern Pacific, Pacific Northwest and a few stores in the Midwest.

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117 comments

Comments

Ed says …

Any grain finishing or completely grass fed?

paig292 says …

@Ed The lambs are completely grass fed. Thanks for asking.

Mara says …

Thank you for sharing that video. It is so freshing to hear that there is still such pure farming celebrated!!

Ann Marie Korsak says …

I am very happy to see the way the sheep are cared for BUT what happens to them after they are brought down from the mountains? What then are they shipped off on packed trucks to slaughter. I appreciate the fact that you are treating your animals with care and consideration while they are alive allowing them to follow their own natural instincts but I am very concerned to know what happens next. The film shows them being put into the holding pens and then people eating. What happens in the middle. How are they brought to slaughter? How are they slaughtered? A animal can have a wonderful life but if the ending is filled with fear and terror then it is still just as bad well ok it is better than factory farming but the end is the same. Thank You I would appreciate a response.

paig292 says …

@ Ann Marie The Icelandic lambs are loaded onto trucks and transported to a slaughter plant that has passed an exhaustive audit that evaluates animal welfare. For the past 10 years Whole Foods Market has required that all plants that slaughter animals for Whole Foods Market meat cases pass annual audits for both food safety and animal welfare. The animal welfare audit criteria for slaughter plants were developed by Temple Grandin and can be found on her website. http://grandin.com/

Scott Haas says …

I'm writing about Whole Foods and the lamb today!

Tricia says …

Absolutely the best Lamb we have ever tasted! And the pure & natural way they are farmed, makes them all the better!

Bepkom says …

Susan, sorry for any confusion. Our Midwest region has limited availability as it says in the note at the end of the post. The Ann Arbor store is part of that region.

Susan says …

I called Whole Foods here in Ann Arbor and they just flat out told me Icelandic lamb was not available at Whole Foods. I don't understand. Is it only available at certain stores?

Kathy says …

We loved the Icelandic lamb in September (at my sisters in the Boston area). The sign in the store explaining the Icelandic lamb said it was available for only limited times during the year. But now it is Easter and I wondered if it was available again in PA area so I can cook it for the rest of my family.

Bepkom says …

@Kathy: Unfortunately Icelandic lamb is only available from September through December. However, your store should still have lamb available for Easter.

Kathleen DePelisi says …

I was so looking forward to my country's lamb for Easter. But unfortunately, the store near me does not have any. BOO HOO Please read your own website Whole Foods... It says available at Easter time as well.... For all you other people who wonder about it.... It is the best lamb in the world..... Yummm! I give you my word on this. Just try it and you'll see. Come on Whole foods, get some more items from Iceland... You should try our fish......Love your store! Have a nice day all!

Bepkom says …

@Kathleen: I apologize for the confusion. Out stores carry locally sourced lamb year-round, but Icelandic lamb is only available from September through December.

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Linda Townsend says …

We just experienced our first taste of Icelandic lamb. We purchased a rack at your store in Ft. Lauderdale. It was the best lamb my husband and I have ever tasted, and we've had them all. We lived in New Zealand and loved their lamb, we enjoy Australian lamb and U. S. lamb, but the Icelandic was oceans above any of the other lamb. We will be back for more!

says …

@Brooke Our recipes index is rather extensive and growing every day. The link below will take you to a search of our recipes that use lamb. Have a search for something that will excite your taste buds! And no, our butchers at Whole Foods Market are happy to remove the bone and/or membrane for you at no extra cost! Happy cooking! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/search/recipe_search.php?q=lamb&num=10&start=0&output=xml_no_dtd&client=default_frontend&filter=0&site=Recipes&btnG=Search&sa.x=0&sa.y=0&sa=Search

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The suggestions you contributed here are very precious. Rrt had been such an exciting surprise to have that awaiting me after i woke up today. They are often to the point and straightforward to grasp. Thanks a ton for the valuable ideas you have shared in this article.

Brooke says …

Hi! Do you have recipes online that you could link to from the article? Also, does it add to the price if I have the butcher remove the bone and or membrane? Thank you! PS I'm very excited to cook this for dinner tonight. It's my first lamb.

Michael says …

I am glad to see an alternative source of imported lamb. I have several questions I would like you to answer: 1. Although the term organic is not used to describe the lamb, the word sustainability is mentioned but not directly ascribed to the lamb. Should I infer the lamb is not organic but is produced sustainably? 2. How does WFM define sustainability? This term is broadly used with various shades of meaning depending on what one wishes to convey. (Not unlike the word organic before the USDA codified its meaning and use.) 3. What cuts of lamb will be offered? 4. Because of the seasonality of this offering, what will be done with any surplus? Are there no plans to extend its availability by offering it in a frozen or preserved form? Respectfully yours,

says …

@Michael To learn what cuts and availability your store will offer, I recommend you contact your community Whole Foods directly, since each store does things a little differently. The link below will help you identify your store's contact information. We're winding down on the Icelandic Lamb availability for this season. As for frozen product, we do pull in frozen product in addition to the fresh and run the product until the supply is completely sold. As for how Whole Foods defines terms for organic and sustainability, please see the following links www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/quality-standards.php http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/meat.php

rswatkins says …

I'm always glad when the Icelandic lamb is in my store. There is also superb US raised lamb, but I never see it in any Whole Food stores (I much prefer it to the always-present New Zealand lamb, which I intensely dislike).

John Kyriakides says …

Is Icelandic Lamb available at Whole Foods Store in Folsom, California? Hope so.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JOHN- You'll need to call the Folsom store directly to see what they have in stock. You can reach them at 916-984-8500. Good luck!

Hordur says …

Just read on an Icelandic news website that they have started slaughtering lambs for Whole Foods (15 August). How long until it will be in stores and will it be available in Dallas stores?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@HORDUR - Since our products vary at each store, reach out to your local store in Dallas to see if they carry this lamb. You can find their contact information at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Lisa Qualls says …

The lambs do not want to die, humans do not need to eat them, therefore we have no right to kill them.

Simone de Lima says …

And then... they get to be killed. Why don't you include scenes of the slaughter, so that each person can decide if they can live with how that death happened? Also, what about the environmental cost of shipping meat halfway accross the planet? What happened to "buy local". ?

Julie Dexter says …

For shame, Whole Foods!! You are supposed to represent progress & cruelty free. Slaughter is slaughter, whether the little lambs were happy for a few days or not. Every Being fears death....and all panic on the approach to slaughter. Very sad about this

sarah kiser says …

in the article, you say..."whose strict agriculture regulations protect the integrity of the lamb you are buying." hmm, i don't know, call me crazy but I kind of doubt that the integrity of the lambs was protected considering that the lambs end up dismembered and disemboweled and wrapped in plastic....and just in case my sarcasm didn't come through, of course the integrity of the lambs was NOT protected. You can't hack apart an animal but turn around and say you protected the animal's integrity!

Diane Gallant says …

I think the way you are portraying ending an animals life is wrong. All animals deserve to live. Butchering an animal is not right and trying to make it look like that is wrong

JC says …

What sets carnists apart from higher forms of life is their seemingly infinite capacity to love, nurture and care for other animals and then to betray, kill and eat them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org

Jenny H says …

I want to start by saying that my family shops solely at WFM but this story is insulting. This "tender" tale and "protecting the lambs integrity" reads like a children's story book. In the end these lambs will tremble in fear while they await their slaughter, and for what? A few moments of "pleasure" on ones taste buds? If you're going to portray this as such a "tender" event why not show the ENTIRE process. Show the customers the slaughterhouses and how the lambs meet their end. At that point the consumer can decide if they'd still purchase this sentient being. And I also have to agree with the previous comments as far as buying local. Shipping this lamb from Iceland, what's the environmental impact of that? I look at WFM as being the most progressive grocery store chain that exists. I look to WFM to set the standard for other stores to follow. But then I read this and it's like taking 10 steps back. You're moving in the wrong direction WFM.

Kayla says …

That lamb sounds delicious : )

Heather says …

I Whole Foods is proud of this, then be honest and show a video of the *whole* story. How about letting people see firsthand what is actually happening from this "idyllic" scene of their life, to transporting them, until each baby sheep is slaughtered, packaged and sent to your stores. I don't think you'd have as many buyers. I'm disappointed you'd try to wrap something link this up in a pretty bow to sell it. What *actually* happens is extremely upsetting to see...even for a devout meat eater. Also, I urge you to look into the environmental impact taking place to try to feed the world meat. Animal agriculture is not sustainable.

charlotte clare moncrieff says …

I do find this very sad as I became when I was wandering happily through your store and suddenly came across the meat section. Why not have a few of these darling little lambs in a pen in the store and see if your majority of meat eating customers really want to tuck into them for the feel good factor. Humans have become very selfish and greedy over this so called welfare or ethical meat eating, I would not want this on my conscience.

Magga says …

This is the best lamb! I should know, I'm from Iceland!

Enrico says …

is this lamb "Halal" or "Kosher"???

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ENRICO - Thanks for your question. This post is a couple of years old so I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see if they have any Halal or Kosher items in stock as our products vary between locations. You can reach them at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Ralph says …

What is the carbon footprint for Icelandic lamb? Compared to Australian or domestic lamb?

Elizabeth says …

This is the best lamb ever. I made stew and Italian Wedding soup with this last year, and the taste was incredible. When should we expect it to arrive in the Park Lane store?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ELIZABETH - I would encourage you to reach out to the Park Lane store directly at 214.342.4850 to see when they will be expecting this.

People Eating Tasty Animals says …

Heh ... The "womyn" / sock puppets of 09/06 need to get a life. I'm going to eat some yummy veal now!!!

Hordur says …

Hi. Can I buy the Icelandic Lamb in your stores in Canada, and order online. I am from Iceland and would love to be able to order this product online and get it here in Canada. Thanks Hordur

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@HORDUR - Thanks for your question. Unfortunately we do not offer online ordering. I would suggest reaching out to your local store location in Canada to see if they will carry this product. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Chris says …

We roasted a boneless leg of lamb for Thanksgiving; the lamb was well worth extra trip two towns over for the purchase. Very little to no waste due to silver skin, excess fat, and remaining tendon/cartilage.

Melissa says …

I am so excited to see that Whole Foods is carrying Icelandic lamb. My husband is from Iceland and for years we were forced to have someone bring it to the states for our Yule celebrations. Going today to pick ours up. Thank you Whole foods!

Frederick booth says …

I was recently in argentina where they pride themselves. In their lamb which is roasted over open coals and is exceptional. I have realized that I have been eating mutton here and that I have never seen real lamb from a sheep of only months old. Is this what I would get with your Icelandic lamb? Are there other sources? Thank you in advance as I would love to be able to cook this for myself.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@FREDERICK - The sources of lamb will vary between stores. Check with your local store's butcher to see what options they have and if it is similar to the Icelandic lamb mentioned above. You can find a list of stores at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

carol Orr says …

Is that Icelandic lamb certified organic? Is it in the Mn stores, edina and minneapolis? I know you had New Zealand lamb at one point in edina.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CAROL - I spoke with the Edina location and they carry lamb from South Dakota and New Zealand. Both are grass-fed but not certified organic. The butcher mentioned that the Lake Calhoun store often gets the Icelandic lamb. You can call them at 612.927.8141 if you have specific questions regarding its organic certification and to see if they have it in stock right now!

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