Whole Story

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The Tender Story of Icelandic Lamb

By Kate Medley, September 7, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Kate Medley

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This blog post previously contained an outdated video about a supplier.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.

Category: Farm to Market




Ed says ...
Any grain finishing or completely grass fed?
09/08/2010 3:31:42 PM CDT
paig292 says ...
@Ed The lambs are completely grass fed. Thanks for asking.
09/08/2010 4:34:41 PM CDT
Mara says ...
Thank you for sharing that video. It is so freshing to hear that there is still such pure farming celebrated!!
09/09/2010 4:47:10 PM CDT
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.
09/09/2010 6:13:12 PM CDT
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/
09/10/2010 8:45:25 AM CDT
Scott Haas says ...
I'm writing about Whole Foods and the lamb today!
09/12/2010 12:21:23 PM CDT
Tricia says ...
Absolutely the best Lamb we have ever tasted! And the pure & natural way they are farmed, makes them all the better!
10/20/2010 8:59:22 PM CDT
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?
11/27/2010 8:06:50 AM CST
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.
11/27/2010 11:12:31 AM CST
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.
04/13/2011 10:50:22 PM CDT
bepkom says ...
@Kathy: Unfortunately Icelandic lamb is only available from September through December. However, your store should still have lamb available for Easter.
04/14/2011 9:52:43 AM CDT
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!
04/20/2011 9:54:27 AM CDT
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.
04/20/2011 10:22:33 AM CDT
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07/12/2011 10:40:31 AM CDT
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.
10/11/2011 10:26:59 AM CDT
janejohnson 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
10/11/2011 4:26:56 PM CDT
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!
10/25/2011 8:46:49 AM CDT
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10/28/2011 2:25:56 PM CDT
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,
11/10/2011 9:52:29 AM CST
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).
11/11/2011 1:16:59 PM CST
janejohnson 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
11/17/2011 2:51:07 PM CST
John Kyriakides says ...
Is Icelandic Lamb available at Whole Foods Store in Folsom, California? Hope so.
08/10/2012 11:20:39 PM CDT
nikki.newman 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!
08/14/2012 12:10:48 PM CDT
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?
08/15/2012 4:48:38 PM CDT
nikki.newman 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.
08/16/2012 11:21:03 AM CDT