FOIE GRAS IS DEAD. LONG LIVE FOIE GRAS.

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.

THE FARM

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/

By |2018-10-03T10:59:41+00:00February 23rd, 2012|

13 Comments

  1. Lynn Quan February 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Is there anything we can do besides attend the fancy expensive foie gras meals being put on. I would love to go but can’t afford it. I am uproared by the fact that the government can tell people what they can serve, eat etc. it’s a huge indication that we have given away so many of our rights that the government feels at liberty to take ones away that don’t have anything to do with them. We are feeding into an epidemic of government control and giving up of our Liberties. Let me know what we can do…who we can write etc.

    Thanks
    Lynn

  2. claudia February 24, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Thanks Lynn,

    The best thing that you can do for now is spread the “facts” to as many people as possible and get a positive buzz going for foie.

  3. shan February 24, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Seriously the pictures alone make me hungry! I love foie, I grew up on a dairy farm, and trust me, there is far more in humane treatment of animals out there in processing plants and such not to mention dangerous to our health because of unclean conditions. If the protesters fighting to ban foie would open there eyes and minds they would see that animals raised to be food are for the most part raised as humanely as possible, but the difference between foie producers and mass chicken and beef producers is comparable to choosing a hotel. Foie farms are the equivalent of staying at the Villagio while the cows and chickens get the best western down the street. Hard to say you “suffer” while staying at the Villagio and the all you can eat gourmet breakfast.

  4. Piper February 24, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    I visited a foie gras farm in France (where the California producer learned his trade). Here is a video (http://youtu.be/tQzH58WJt0Y) that I took while watching the hand feeding. The geese look very calm.
    If you want to see one over the top reaction by one of the activists, look at the all caps comment by Dominatrixxx7 — and than decide if you want your dining choices dictated by these folks.

  5. kerry February 27, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I love this article Claudia, thanks for doing the research! Although I know I shouldn’t dine on foie regularly, I certainly do love it as a rare occasion treat, and it drives me crazy that activists are limiting my eating habits and causing people to lose their livelihood due to lack of or inaccurate information.

    If you haven’t yet eaten at Lafitte, go! Chef Russell Jackson is a man who loves good food and has a deep respect for it, and that man loves foie! I trust his research, and if he feels like eating foie is humane, I’ll happily continue!

  6. kerry February 27, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    And BTW, I think we should do our own foie gras dinner in June to celebrate the last of it!

  7. Rick Bishop March 1, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    Claudia, why would you ruin this un-bridled, un-informed, crazed campaign by inserting facts into the argument, and then you visit the farm for yourself…..you might start something here and the truth might prevail! Thank you

  8. Liver Talk « The Om Blog March 14, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    […] the most unfairly notorious.  Claudia, over at Tasty Bits, wrote a fantastic piece challenging the upcoming ban on Foie Gras in California).  There are many regulations in most countries about the purveyance of liver so, be […]

  9. Maris Taraval March 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    You go girl! And once we get this ridiculous intrusion into our lives overturned, I would like to enlist your help in overturning the ban on viande de cheval. Animals are put on earth for us to use, and anthropomorphizing them is how the extremists are going to control the agenda. There is nothing wrong eating duck or horse or any other traditional farm animal.

  10. claudia March 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    I am not an activist. I am not super on board with the term “using” animals, but I do believe that it is natural to eat animals. I also believe that we should strive for the humane treatment of animals for slaughter. I don’t eat horse, but I would. I think it would be great if we could all visit a farm where our food is raised. I feel like a bit of a coward having someone else do the slaughter and purchasing pristine cuts at the the store. If you can face the animals alive on the farm and see them slaughtered and still eat them, then you have a more believable voice in these matters. I am speaking to myself.

  11. Jeremy May 3, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Nice post and thanks for fighting the good fight. Here’s my post on the same topic.
    http://www.mrdelicious.ph/stand-up-for-foie/

  12. […] I wrote about my visit to the Sonoma Foie Gras farm, I had not yet gotten to know the Gonzalez family very well. They […]

  13. RIP Foie Gras » Spillerena July 2, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    […] well-written exploration into the facts behind foie gras, I’d suggest reading Claudia’s post over on Tasty Bits) Posted […]

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