We’re proud to be partnering with Brian and Kathleen Bean of Lava Lake Lamb, our “neighbors” about two hours southeast of us here at Alderspring Ranch. This amazing lamb is the perfect addition to our wild protein offerings of grassfed organic beef and Chris and Heather Maxcy’s wild Copper River Sockeye Salmon.
Lava Lake lamb is used by some of the finest chefs in the upscale resort town of Sun Valley. But beyond the taste of the lamb is a compelling story of the careful, sustainable husbandry of Idaho’s pristine wild landscapes.
Lava Lake’s grazing lands extend over nearly 800,000 acres from the deserts of the Snake River Plain to the high peaks of the Pioneer Mountains near Sun Valley. The lamb is raised with care by seasoned shepherds in much the same way they have been raised for centuries. They graze on the natural bounty of a pristine, vast, and biologically diverse working wilderness landscape.
The result: fit, healthy animals that make the most delicious, tender, nutrient-rich meat. Unlike grassfed lamb finished on cultivated fields, Lava Lake lamb has a depth and complexity of flavor that reflects the diversity of the wild, native plants on which they graze. Tender and juicy, pure and delectable.
“Not only have I found the quality of the lamb to be outstanding but I also happen to agree 100% with the company philosophy. Ideally, you want lamb that has been raised sustainably, humanely, and without antibiotics or growth hormones.” Stephane Lemagnen, classically trained French chef, NY, NY.
Is Lava Lake certified organic? No, but there is a good reason. Like Alderspring Ranch, Lava Lake manages a large area (over 800,000 acres) that crosses many administrative boundaries. Coordinating with so many players in an organic certification is very difficult. Alderspring has it a little easier because we only work with two federal offices and 2 county weed boards to develop a weed management plan that meets the organic certification requirements. Lava Lake has multiple federal, state and county offices to coordinate with that makes the certification process nearly impossible. But like Alderspring Ranch cattle, Lava Lake lambs graze on remote, pristine mountain country, so their lamb is not exposed to herbicides or pesticides. It is difficult to convey the size and wildness of this primal Idaho country, nearly 1/4 the size of the entire state of Connecticut.
Lava Lake is committed to organic agriculture, however. Their home ranch and over 60,000 acres of grazing land is certified organic, and their ewes are fed organic hay in the winter. And, of course, their sheep are never given hormones or antibiotics. If a lamb were to become ill and need antibiotics, it is not sold as Lava Lake Lamb.
Brian and Kathleen Bean are passionate about the conservation of Idaho’s wild landscapes and have put their talents and resources to work making a significant difference. You can read more about what they do by visiting their conservation science nonprofit, the Lava Lake Institute.
“Ninety percent of what I do in the kitchen depends on the product I begin with. The fact that Lava Lake Lamb is so tasty and the cuts they make available to me are so unique means that the dishes I serve are delicious and exciting. But that’s only part of the story. It is equally important to me that those lambs are raised in a natural, sustainable manner – grass-fed, free of hormones and antibiotics and co-existing with predators. And I think it’s important to my customers, too.” CK’s Real Food; Ketchum, Idaho