An article on the Independent reignites the debate over the methods used to produce foie gras and whether it is ok to eat it and utlimately whether restaurants and chefs should serve it in their restaurants.
Having been banned in many counties for being inhumane, but with more "ethical" versions being produced is it coming more acceptable?
What are your thoughts? Do you eat it? Do you serve it in your restaurant? Does the way it is produces put you off?
I have been working for many years in Michelin star restaurants and eaten at quite a few in London. I think pretty much all of them had foie gras in their menus. Although I have always known how it was produced, I never really thought of it when ordering it at a restaurant. Sometimes one doesn't really make the connection between the animal they have got in their plate and the animal that "used to be". In the foie gras case though it's hard to keep ignoring the methods used to fatten up the geese, so a while ago I took the decision to stop eating it.
Until Katherine mentioned it on Twitter I didn't even know there are now ethically produced foie gras, I did a brief research online and although I am not fully convinced about this alternative method, this might be a viable alternative.
This is an extract from wikipedia: The terms ethical foie gras or humane foie gras is also used for gavage-based foie gras production that is more concerned with the animal's welfare (using rubber hoses rather than steel pipes for feeding). Others have expressed skepticism at these claims of humane treatment, as earlier attempts to produce fattened livers without gavage have not produced satisfactory results.
I think whatever way it is produced I will just give it a pass.
It's a very interesting debate (the Independent article can be found here by the way).
Personally, I have known for a while how foie gras is produced and that hasn't stopped me eating it. I have always looked at it like this: gavage, or something like it, is a process that dates back as far 2500 BC and you could argue that it only replicates the natural feeding habits of migratory birds.
While I knew that modern production sees the use of steel or rubber hoses being pushed down the birds' throads, I did not realise the sheer speed at which they are fed and this does give me cause to rethink my ways. It may only be a short period at the end of their lives and it may be that farmed geese consume up to 2,500 grams of food a day of their own accord, but I bet they don't do it in less than 60 seconds.
Like Salt&Pepper, I am not fully convinced by the ethical methods either. You are still effectively coaxing the birds to consume more than it appears they would in the wild. And from a disinterested consumer's point of view, will you end up with an inferior product at much greater cost?
We shadowed restaurant Alimentum, in Cambridge, on a trip to a free-range foie gras production farm in Spain a few years ago. You can read the article here.
It makes interesting reading.
Very interesting article indeed and yes frogs is another food I don't eat as I am fully aware of how they are killed, hopefully I will regain my appetite before dinner.