Well, it isn’t dead yet, but it will be illegal in California as of July 1st, 2012
This may not be important to you because you aren’t into foie or, like a few, you assume that it is cruel to feed a duck with a metal tube in order to enlarge its liver. Hey, I don’t blame you. It looks scary and painful, but it isn’t.
This is a risky post for me to be writing because it is a very polarizing topic, but I feel like I owe it to you and myself to tell you what I know to be true.
I love to eat foie gras. It is definitely a headliner on my last meal on earth menu and I am fortunate to have enjoyed it many times in my lifetime thus far. I am not one of these people who eats something even though I think it might be cruel.
I did my homework and found out the facts about foie gras production in the US and abroad and the science behind the accusation that it is a cruel practice and I came to what I consider to be an educated conclusion. Foie production in the US is not cruel nor inhumane.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
I got a chance to do something that most foodies don’t get to do. I got to visit a foie farm in California, in fact, the only foie farm in California. I got to see how ducks on a foie farm are raised and “fattened” for myself.
I went into that experience with an objective mind. I was prepared to come away with a changed opinion about foie. I certainly had my questions, but they had more to do with the type of corn the ducks were fed than how the ducks were being fed.
What I did realize is that as long as people anthropomorphize animals, there is no chance that this ban will be overturned. Unless you have done your homework and understand the anatomy of a duck and realize that ducks don’t have a gag reflex, you will assume that feeding a duck with a metal tube is cruel. Your assumption will be false.
I am a believer in establishing humane standards in farming especially when it comes to factory farms, but foie farms in the US use artisanal methods and are humane.
THE REAL BAD GUYS
The extreme factions of the animal rights movement, whose goal it is to eradicate meat from the American table, know that most people will deem hand feeding ducks with metal tubes to be cruel, so it is the easiest first step towards realizing their goal. These activists have terrorized, vandalized and threatened foie producers and chefs.
My take on the foie farm: I found the barns and areas where the controlled feeding occurred to be clean and spacious. The employees of the farm were kind, professional and some had been with the company for 20 years. The birds from the little ducklings to the fully grown ducks that were ready to meet their maker were healthy and perfectly mobile.
The timeline of a foie duck as per the producer:
The ducklings are received when they are one day old. They spend the first 5 weeks in a barn, under heat lamps and on bedding of wood shavings while they develop their feathers. They walk about, flap their wings freely, and have access to all natural feed and water. Once they have enough feathering, they are brought out to the walnut orchards, where they continue to roam free range for about 6-8 weeks. Here again, they have access to all natural feed (no hormones or antibiotics), water and shade.
During the final two weeks, they are housed in temperature-controlled barns, where they are kept in groups of about 8-12 ducks per pen measuring about 33 square feet. They are fed twice per day by the same feeder.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Ducks and geese do not have a gag reflex and have an insensitive, collagen-lined esophagus,
enabling them to swallow large fish and other prey without discomfort.
- Foie Gras is not a diseased liver. In nature, ducks and geese fatten their livers for energy prior to
migration, and the effect is reversible. Foie gras produced from domesticated ducks is possible because of the duck’s natural capacity to have enlarged livers.
- Independent veterinarians, scientists, chefs and journalists who have witnessed the feeding,
conclude that if it is done to humane standards, it causes no harm to the animals.
- American foie gras is raised on small-scale farms using skillful and correct methods.
ONE LAST THING
I am a concerned citizen and these are my opinions based on the facts that I have found. You may form whatever opinion you would like. I am not listing all of my sources here to protect innocent people’s identities. I don’t know if you have heard, but a few of the anti-foie activists are dangerous people. I acquired all of my information first-person. I am not just quoting other articles that I have read or using interviews and footage that is 10 years old and meant to sensationalize this topic in order to get “clicks”. I care about this topic, I care about the people who will lose their family businesses and jobs and I care about freedom of choice and fighting for truth. If you have any specific questions, please e-mail me and I will try to answer them in the best way possible and/or point you in the right direction.
For information on what is being done to fight the ban, Click on the CHEFS web site here: http://chefstandards.com/