The Ethics of Foie Gras

If one were to make a list of the most unethical foods a person could eat, Chilean sea bass would be on there, as would shark fin soup and perhaps unanimously so would Foie Gras — the sumptuous duck liver delicacy.  (As an aside, the list would probably not have candy, fried foods, soda, or fast food of any type on it, which would just be silly as those are the most unethical foods going, imho)

Serious Eats Kenji Lopez-Alt travels to a foie farm in the Hudson Valley for an all-access look at the practice of making the French gastronomical delicacy.  It should be noted that to make foie, ducks or goose are force fed up to three times per day to fatten up their livers.

But video or photographic footage of one badly managed farm or even a thousand badly managed farms does not prove that theproduction of foie gras, as a practice, is necessarily harmful to the health or mental well-being of a duck. Foie gras production should be judged not by the worst farms, but by the best, because those are the ones that I’m going to choose to buy my foie from if at all.

So the real question is: is the production of foie gras torturous under even the best of conditions?

Those on one side would answer yes. How could force feeding an animal ever be considered anything but torture? On the other hand are those who claim that American foie farms are positively idyllic with ducks waddling around spacious pens, even queuing up for their gavage, that for a duck, none of the things we consider uncomfortable stress them out in the least. But who’s right?

To answer this question, me and a few fellow Serious Eaters (yes, including Dumpling) set out on a brisk fall morning for La Belle Farms in the idyllic Hudson Valley in what was promised to us as a 100% full-access, bottom to top tour of the operation. We’d be free to see anything we liked, no doors would be locked, and we’d be taking cameras and notebooks with us.

Just another great piece of writing from Lopez-Alt.  He takes a difficult issue and presents it plainly for the world to see and determine for themselves.  He also gives concrete reasons why he believes the production of foie is not unethical.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bizdata December 17, 2010, 5:54 am

    This is old news and has been debated and written about for decades. My advice is not to eat foie gras.

    • James December 17, 2010, 6:20 am

      Yeah I've had it once or twice at restaurants. Don't really go out of my way to eat it, but I did think it was a fairly interesting piece on the subject by Lopez-Alt.