the ethnic markets because of their smaller carcass size, presence of a tail, and lower likelihood of feedlot finishing. The changing ethnic backgrounds of major U.S. cities away from the New York and California coasts are expanding the populations from these ethnic groups and their associated ethnic markets into areas such as Chicago, Detroit, and Houston.

Seasonal Consumption and Religious/Ethnic Effects

For many U.S. ethnic groups, lamb is consumed on a regular basis throughout the year. In other words, for these groups there is no particular seasonal pattern to their lamb consumption. Although lamb is consumed throughout the year by various religious groups (which often overlap the ethnic groups noted above), lamb is the preferred meat for specific religious holidays. Muslim, Greek, and Eastern Orthodox populations are the only significant ethnic groups that, because of religion, consume lamb during specific periods of the year.

In the Muslim calendar (Alnaseej, 2007), two major periods are associated with lamb consumption. The first is the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Hijri calendar). Then, Eidu al-fitr is celebrated on the first day of the month immediately following Ramadan. The second period is the Eidu al-adha, which occurs on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, celebrating the end of the annual Hajj. Eidu al-adha is the most important Moslem holy period for the consumption of lamb. Because the Hijri calendar does not contain the same number of days as the Gregorian calendar, the holy periods for Muslims change each year, advancing 9 to 12 days annually, taking 31 to 33 years to return to the same month in the Gregorian calendar. For Muslims, the consumption is mostly lamb, although some older ovine animals also enter this market. Because of the Eastern and Greek Orthodox population, as well as a large and growing U.S. Muslim population, the question is whether these holy periods affect the seasonal consumption or disappearance of lamb in the United States.

The U.S. Census is prevented by law from collecting information regarding religious affiliation. As a result, little information on religious affiliation is available on a consistent annual basis. One source is a study of religious affiliation in the adult population comparing 1990 and 2001 (USCB, 2007). By telephone survey, adults were asked to indicate their religion, without prompt or verification, or membership in a religious group. The results for the Jewish population indicated 3.1 million adults for 1990 and 2.8 million adults for 2001 (1.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, of the adult population). For Muslims, there were 527,000 adults in 1990 and 1.1 million adults in 2001 (0.3 percent and 0.5 percent of the adult population, respectively). Although Eastern Orthodox groups made up only 0.3 percent of the U.S. population in 1990, their growth rate was about 2.7 percent an-



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement