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Fois Gras, Anyone?

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The European Union has announced its intention to outlaw the force-feeding of geese for fois gras — in 15 years.

The lengthy time frame is to allow French producers to find alternative production methods. In France, fois gras is very nearly the national food. Demand for fois gras outpaces supply. So much so, that a significant fois gras industry has developed in Hungary, where there are 30,000 small fois gras farmers, with the majority of the fois gras going to France.

No word yet on why it should take 15 years to find alternative methods to replace and outlaw a practice that animal rights activists have called cruel.

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  • Eric Olsen

    I will stock up now

  • I’m sorry but Fois Gras is just plain good stuff. Some things aren’t worth the cruelty that’s needed to produce them. Veal, for example, isn’t. But Fois Gras… yeah. It’s worth it.

  • Chef Nick

    I happened across this article while searching for vendors, anyways just to be a stickler for terminology Fois Gras is the truffel itself. The geese are involved in the production of pate de Fois Gras. As an American I say to hell with the French and thier double dealing politicians as a chef I am compassionate to my Franco bretheren in the kitchen who have worked for centuries to define the culinary standards worldwide, only to be undermined by tree hugging hippies who hold nothing sacred. I would gladly burn my chefs hat in protest.

  • Thanks for the pointer on using the correct terminology, Chef Nick.

    15 years is a long time, so I think you can hang on to your chef’s hat for a while longer.

  • CK

    I don’t need 15 years to think of a suitable replacement delicacy for those who enjoy partaking in a little fois gras. Perhaps they could get chained to a chair in their chosen restaurant and have a tube shoved down their necks to fill their stomachs until they rupture.


  • Indeed.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    And those who eat cheeseburgers should be chopped up in little pieces, fried on a griddle, and served to fat folks in a diner.

    I think there’s a legitimate discussion about cruelty to animals in the food industry, but stuff like comment 5 convinces me that some people aren’t particularly serious about it.

    Foie gras is delicious.

  • Eric Olsen

    what’s the deal with livers, and why are cowards called “lilylivered”? Why is “liver” used to represent the whole? Why isn’t it “lilyspleened” or “lilyduodenum”? By the way, all of my younger daughter’s organs are named “lily”

  • ClubhouseCancer

    During the middle ages, the liver rivalled the heart for the organ most considered to be the seat of life and health and fortitude, although I’m not sure exactly why.

    I’m also not sure exactly how to source this, but I guess there’s something in the OED. Anyone got access?

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Also, with love from Tom the Dancing Bug.


  • >>No word yet on why it should take 15 years to find alternative methods to replace and outlaw a practice that animal rights activists have called cruel.<< Because it's yummy? And because animal rights activists cry wolf so much that no one takes them seriously. And I imagine it's 15 years so that those in power now can enjoy it until they die and leave their children deprived after they're gone. Dave

  • Frankie

    I can’t believe that in the 21st century there are still people who think that this sickening level of cruelty is tolerable because the result is ‘yummy’.

  • Not only do I tolerate it for yumminess, I keep pet geese and like them a lot and I’m still not traumatized by it so long as it’s not being done to MY geese. Am I sick or what?


  • Eric

    Not sick, just hypocritical, but that’s ok, it is no less than one can expect from half-wittedness.
    And it is all very well saying that those who eat cheese burgers should also be chopped up etc, but at least the animals that wind up as burgers, chops, fillets etc can almost certainly be guaranteed a reasonable quality of life beforehand. Not like the ducks and geese who have to remain immobile and wind up losing the use of their legs and dragging themselves round on their wings

  • bhw

    but at least the animals that wind up as burgers, chops, fillets etc can almost certainly be guaranteed a reasonable quality of life beforehand.


    Never a more untrue word was spoken. It’s all a nasty business, unless you’re specifically talking about free-range cattle and what not.

  • Eric

    As it is, we are top of the food chain and we have been hunting and killing for meat for thousands of years. You’re right, it did start to get nasty. Why should we get to invent such cruel ways of producing a delicacy?

  • bhw

    Well, because we’re at the top.

    But I’m not a vegetarian or animal rights activist. My family eats all sorts of meat. I just choose to not think about how that meat got on my table, for the most part.

    But this mad cow disease potential is changing that. I’m starting to pay attention, and it’s grossing me out, such as when I learned that calves are fed cow blood instead of milk, so that the milk can be sold to us instead.

    That’s n-a-s-t-y beyond belief.

  • Eric – it’s like I tell my dogs all the time, yeah, I talk to my dogs, we have opposable thumbs, we get to make the rules!

  • Eric Olsen

    opposable thumbs and toilets – we rule!

  • I only rule if I remember to put the seat down! Daughters!

  • If you wonder why the liver, in some cultures, was seen as the seat of emotions like love and courage, look at a 3-D model of the human anatomy. (Or take a university-level biology course that has you dissect a fetal pig.)

    Even in those of us who have not been force-fed through tubes, the liver is huge. It is much larger than the heart, and the liver’s red tinge makes it visually more prominent than larger organs like the intestines.

    As for cruelty in food production, I am torn in two. (How’s that for a graphic image?)

    When I learned of the methods used to produce veal and foie gras, for example, the information repulsed me. Now I cannot eat these foods no matter how delicious they may be. (Please note that I am not telling anyone else what they can or cannot eat.)

    On the other hand, if we think about it too much, all food can be thought to suffer in some way. Fresh fruits and vegetables are still alive, at least at the cellular level. That’s why they are fresh. When the cells die, we call the food rotten.

    If I eat a fresh apple or carrot, the living cells of the plant will dissolve in my stomach acid, which is indisputably fatal. Even if it does not cause pain such as we might recognize in a dog, a cat, or a human, dissolving in acid is a grisly end for any living being.

    Since I am not yet enlightened enough to survive as a Breatharian, I cannot avoid causing this kind of suffering. But I don’t lose a lot of sleep over it.

    After all, it’s not as if the carrots (or the cows) would have lived forever had I not eaten them.

  • I like veal. When I eat it I think about how I’m taking one more farting cow out of the cycle that is destroying the ozone layer.


  • While I haven’t become a vegetarian, I have chosen to remain willfully ignorant of a great deal of what goes on in the world of meat production (you mean chicken doesn’t grow on those little plastic trays — in parts?). Like you, Victor, I avoid veal and foie gras. It seems to me that if we choose to eat meat, we owe the animals a humane existence and a swift death.

  • fois gross

    Whoa. sorry, you are all fois GROSS. Please look at http://www.gourmetcruelty.com. At least give it a fair shot. People with compassion passed recent legislation in california banning fois gras production. And it’s banned in 13 countries including the UK. Live and let live has a certain arrogance when animals are completely at our mercy.
    There are so many other things to eat. Ducks that are force fed literally explode alive, and fully conscious, from the pressure, many live with gaping wounds thru which water pours when they try to drink. It’s not just an unnecessary evil, it’s unthinkable. And the person who raises geese? oh my god.

    Yeah, OK, we all get the last laugh. We’re human. We don’t HAVE to show any mercy to those that are defenseless. But we all know that animals want to live, and they suffer, as we do. Why create more suffering in the world? It makes me sick that people are so sadistic that would participate in this cruelty. Maybe that’s the real difference between them and us.

    god help us.

  • Did you actually read any of the comments here before posting, foie gross? Or are you just jerking the knee?

  • I too wonder about the 15-year window. Ban it outright, I say; that’s the only decent course.

    Personally, I *love* paté de foie gras, but knowing how the geese that produce it are treated is too much for me, so I choose not to eat it, just as I eschew veal. Others will do as they will — they have to live with their choices; they don’t need me tossing paint onto their plates even metaphorically.

    I will admit this, however: Some of my favorite “Iron Chef” episodes involve foie gras. I should probably refuse to watch them, but I don’t. Too busy lusting after food I can only imagine eating and know I will never have again. Life is tough sometimes. I do miss paté…

  • Karen Tracey

    Delicacy it is not — fois gras is a diseased liver of a force-fed duck/goose. Not only is that unappetizing, it is extremely cruel. These animals are force fed until they regurgitate the feed. Some of them die from choking on their vomit. They are man-handled and lay in piles of puke and excrement. There’s nothing “romantic” about that. Anyone who knowingly eats fois gras is a cruel person… there is no exception.

  • I absoluely appreciate what you are trying to do in terms of protecting geese, but here is a bit of advice: Judge not lest ye be judged.

  • Jo

    Dave, why are you trying to get a rise out of people whose only thought is for preventing the suffering of another animal? The only reason that you can possibly enjoy fois gras is simply that you are not a goose. But hey- here’s believing in re-incarnation!

  • Jo

    PS it is a tad naive for someone to think that farmed animals are ‘almost certainly be guaranteed a reasonable quality of life’. Their lives are probably the most intolerable existences in the world today. NOBODY rushes to their aid despite the intense suffering they go through.

  • Fois gras is divine and served up by my friends on special occasions. However, the force feeding was labeled to be inhumane. (I’m thinking KFC here). Since all the hoopla, I don’t eat fois gras when it’s on the table.

  • MJP

    After hearing about fois gras and what it actually was, I decided to become a Vegan. I will never understand the lack of compassion on this topic. Who thought this up to begin with? All I can think is that those who continue to indulge on this unnecessary “delicacy” will some day experience the same level of pain and hopelessness these animals have had to endure for their entire, short lives.
    “What goes around, comes around”.

  • Mike

    I have yet to meet a vegan or a vegetarian who (1) could cook, (2) had a palate, or, (3) was compassionate toward human beings. Bring on the fois gras, veal, and other delicacies!

  • LesM

    I remember as a kid feeding ducks at the local park. They never seemed to get full. Needless to say, these full-time park dwellers were quite popular with the kids and far from thin little wadlers. (most were so fat they could barely walk or fly)

    This leads me to the question…why can’t we have fat and happy ducks? Could we get a reasonably good product by not force feeding but just free feeding a lot?

    The fois gras has been around a lot longer than the force feeding technique. There have to be alternatives. There are plenty of rabid animal rights activists who will never consider anything but forcing everyone to be vegan but where are the realists who can offer an alternative method of producing fois gras?