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janeer

Farewell to Foie Gras

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In answer to point 1, I guess I would think about it for a bit. Then if I disagreed I would simply ignore.

For point 2 actually I literally mean that I have not personally come across any "meat is murder", anti-fur, etc. rallys or adverts or whatever, though I have heard about them second hand. I don't watch TV, I don't read magazines, I visit quite specific places on the internet, etc. so maybe I am not exposing myself to the right sources. I also do not know anything about what America is like, so maybe things are different there.

And by the way "my side" is not trying to do anything. I am not on anyone's side. Notice that I have not grouped you with the people who have gone on and on about my eating habits.

But you can't simply ignore it if they successfully ban and criminalize the food you eat, can you?

And yes, you're on a side. You're not trying to force your ideals on anyone else. But there are a lot of vegetarians who ARE. They are actively trying to ban my food. They want to make it a criminal act to have sausage and eggs for breakfast. Your gentle "mentioning" humane animal treatment is just more polite than the hard-core vegetarians who want to outright ban and criminalize my breakfast.

You're argument is nothing more than a slippery slope fallacy. Your meat will never be banned, no matter what you, or some vegetarian says. You will be able to eat suasage and eggs for breakfast until the day you die.

And Jenni is not on a "side" just becuase she is a vegetarian. Just because there are some vegetarians attempting to ban some foods doesn't make all vegetarians responsible for the acts of a few.

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I don't have any issues with vegetarians until they start to have issues with me and that is exactly what this foie gras ban is trying to do when I visit California to see my parents and to visit the wineries. Your option to "ignore" the ban is not possible if the item, the foie, is banned!

Thankfully, the people of the state of Oklahoma don't get to dictate to the people of California how they choose to govern their state any more than the people of California get to dictate how the people of Oklahoma choose to govern their state.

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Yes! Isn't that representative government thingy great!

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I was a vegetarian for several years, but came to the conclusion that I am happy to eat, and kill an animal provided it had a decent life and had a pain and stress free death.

I believe if your not prepared to kill it, then you should not eat it so if you can't kill it don't eat it.

I also am a huge advocate of British (or pink veal), I used to think veal was cruel and yes milk fed in a crate is, but now male calfs are just discarded often not humanely as the cost to humanely slaughter something worth nothing prevents, far better to raise humanely, kill humanely and sufering reduced and we benefit.

Foie is at it's worst extremely cruel, at it's best (flavour wise as well http://www.gansoiberico.com/ ) cruel free, driving underground will (in the same way as drugs) can only increase cruelty, improved regulation I am in favour of but how could the foie from www.gansoiberico.com be illegal when the same place can serve a battery chicken!


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I think animal rights groups are mostly pragmatic, and I don't think even the most fervent AR group thinks that they'll be able to outlaw meat consumption entirely. And while many of the groups may have a stated goal of everyone being vegetarian, not only do they understand that this is unlikely to happen in the near future. But, as pragmatists, of course they do focus on practices that are both cruel and seen as elitist (fur, foie gras being two obvious examples). Yes, on an absolute level, there are other practices that may be as cruel or more cruel, but these ones are easy targets because they're seen as things which are enjoyed by a very small percentage of the population. At the same time, these groups usually spend quite a bit of time advocating for smaller changes to the standard of living for larger numbers of industrially "farmed" animals (and it's worth keeping in mind that California also recently passed Prop 2, so I think there is interest by voters in the welfare of other types of animals). PETA is purposely extreme to provoke reactions, and that's part of their strategy; while I'm not a card-carrying member, I really don't think they deserve all the ire directed at them, and they have done quite a bit to improve the lot of animals in the US and worldwide.

I really enjoyed Mark Caro's The Foie Gras Wars -- while I don't agree with all of his conclusions, I think he does do his best to portray both sides of a very contentious issue fairly. I think it's worth a read, regardless of your stance on this particular issue. I definitely agree with him that an egg-laying hen in a modern industrial factory farm is probably subjected to more cruelty (over the course of its lifetime) than ducks subject to gavage.

I do think it's quite different for a state to ban production and sale of foie gras vs. a city -- there is at least slightly more control of food products traveling interstate, and it's a lot farther for most of us to drive to a neighboring state - as someone said above, CA has several states bordering it, but it is also a huge state -- I don't think many folks are going to be driving to Vegas or Arizona just to get their foie fix.


Edited by Will (log)

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driving underground will (in the same way as drugs) can only increase cruelty

That I'm not so sure about -- there are very few producers of foie gras in the US already (mostly in upstate NY, if memory serves). While I am sure that foie will be brought from out of state into California in defiance of the ban, I'm less worried that you'd see unlicensed producers of foie operating within the state. California is already an expensive place to do business - it would be easier for such an operator to start a new operation in a different state.

Now the operation in another state might be more cruel than the operations which currently exist in California, but that wouldn't be due to being driven underground, since the operation would be legal in another state.


Edited by Will (log)

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There was quite a kerfuffle in Philadelphia several years ago regarding a group known as Hugs for Puppies. They were, in fact, violent and terroristic. I know a young lady who was a manager at one of the restaurants being picketed. She was addressed by name over a bullhorn from across the street, with the ominous threat of "we know where you live". That is not acceptable under any circumstances and there's no reason this young lady who was merely performing the duties of her job as manager of a restaurant that happened to have foie gras on the menu should fear walking the few blocks to her home at night, or fear living in the privacy of her home because of some fringe lunatics. I don't believe that most vegetarians have an agenda, but as Obese-Wan pointed out, some certainly do. This group is an example of the sort of extremism he mentioned. They do exist.

I'm a big believer in live and let live. Don't tell me what to eat, and I won't tell you. If you are a guest in my home I will accommodate your dietary restrictions to the best of my ability. And that goes for choices like vegetarianism or keeping kosher, to cooking gluten free for you if need be. It's what we do for our friends, right?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm a big believer in live and let live. Don't tell me what to eat, and I won't tell you. If you are a guest in my home I will accommodate your dietary restrictions to the best of my ability. And that goes for choices like vegetarianism or keeping kosher, to cooking gluten free for you if need be. It's what we do for our friends, right?

The "don't tell me what to do, and I won't tell you" compact doesn't apply if one side isn't OK with the premise. And one side obviously isn't.

I'm quite OK with the slippery slope argument, because that's exactly what it is in this case. First foie. What next? Cuy? They're cuddly. Ban the consumption of cuy next. Keep chipping away at the menu until meat is off limits. Don't kid yourself, there is a large, well-funded, single-issue, single-mindset group of fanatics who will work tirelessly to see the day when sausages, milk and braised short ribs are ancient history.

There are plenty of things I don't eat -- Patagonian toothfish, for instance. Any billfish. Any animal raised in the horrific squalor of industrial ranching. If, at the stroke of a dictator's pen, I could ban the consumption of endangered animals, and animals raised in the most inhumane of conditions I would be tempted.

Tempted is the operative word. I do not want, nor would I accept that kind of power. I do my part quietly, by not purchasing things that I find ethically questionable. I don't like something, so I don't buy it. Why can't "the other side" simply do the same?


Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Once again, though I feel you don't hear me, why do you have to make it this side and that side? As if only two sides exist in this world? As if it was vegetarians versus meat eaters? It's a very sad and negative way of thinking, as well as drastically oversimplifying the issue.

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And there is at least one remaining objective question: If the current process of force-feeding is distressing to the birds, is it possible to develop an approach that give the same results, but is not distressing, or at least only very mildly so?

Yes

http://www.lapateria.eu/company.html


Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!

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Will .. I have to agree with you as to the treatment of hens in egg battery farms being much more mistreated than foie gras farming.

There are other animal husbandry practices in beef and pig farming that are more stressfull as well I think.. in both they castrate without anesthetic, docking of tails and clipping of teeth in piglets is also done without. Hens in batteries can often have their beaks clipped.

Geese and ducks are force fed for about 2 to 3 weeks... the more advanced farms use a process that takes no more than 2-3 seconds per feeding. So even geese that go for 3 weeks have maybe a minute of accumulated force feeding. Add to that , the fact I have seen on two different programs geese and ducks rushing to the feeding station for their turn . For the farms that do traditional feeding, it can take significantly longer, but one of those programs I mentioned was a farm that feed this way. The geese and ducks still rushed to the guy feeding them, tt makes me wonder where the lines of what constitute mistreatment really should be drawn.

I don't eat foie gras btw, No moral qualms, just not something I enjoy. I still eat pork, beef and eggs though, but I know what it takes to get it too me . I don't delude myself that meat just appears on little plastic wrapped styrofoam trays.


"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Don't kid yourself, there is a large, well-funded, single-issue, single-mindset group of fanatics who will work tirelessly to see the day when sausages, milk and braised short ribs are ancient history.

The day that animal rights activists have even a hundredth of a percent of the power and influence that the livestock, meat-packing, and fast-food industries have is the day that you will see pigs flying over the ice rinks of hell. Yes, there are single-issue, single-minded fanatics out there - but large and well-funded? Not so much.


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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I've been reading this thread with interest, having lived and worked for some years in France where foie gras is a central part of the end of year feasting (Sometimes Christmas, at others New Year) when it is found in many variants in every epicerie or supermarket. I came back to England in 2007 and in the same year a council local to where I now live considered banning foie gras from sale in shops and restaurants. As I recall the debate was much the same as you are now engaged in. There was also mention of a more ethical production method, I thought in England but the only reference I could find today concerns a Spanish Producer. Here is a link

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6301715.stm

As to the traditional method, some years ago I was invited to a farm in Perigord where I watched the geese jostling for their turn for feeding. In isolation the equipment looks horrific but this was a working farm not a tourist attraction and the geese were absolutely free to roam around. Of course I have no idea if the Producer is typical, much of the commercial foie gras on sale in France is duck rather than goose and I'm aware that ducks are often raised in far from ideal intensive units for meat, let alone foie gras.

It seems to me that there is no right or wrong that can be broadly applied on this topic, rather it is for each of us to make a personal decision. History indicates that prohibitions are less than effective, criminalising some and causing parallel markets where there can be no controls in respect of welfare issues. In order that we can each make an informed decision it would perhaps be good to have more objective information available, narrowing the gap between food production and consumption which seems ever more vast as many rely increasingly on processed 'ready to eat' nutrition - perhaps this doesn't apply to readers of these forums but it certainly seems to be increasingly the case for many.


Edited by DianaB (log)

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I'm quite OK with the slippery slope argument, because that's exactly what it is in this case. First foie. What next? Cuy? They're cuddly. Ban the consumption of cuy next. Keep chipping away at the menu until meat is off limits. Don't kid yourself, there is a large, well-funded, single-issue, single-mindset group of fanatics who will work tirelessly to see the day when sausages, milk and braised short ribs are ancient history.

The slippery slope is a fallacy. It is logical argument that is simply incorrect.

There are "large, well-funded, single-issue, single-mindset" groups for everything. Pro/anti nuclear power, pro/anti gay marriage, pro/anti gambling. You name it and there is likely a group for it and a group against it. The very existence of a groups is neither unreasonable nor something to be feared.

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Not sure if this background is relevant, but I'll throw it out there. I was vegan between the age of 19 and 33. I now farm sheep and pigs. I can slaughter an animal although I'm not thrilled about it. I take great pride and satisfaction is butchery. Foie gras, I like, but it's 40 quid a liver in the UK, and outside London very, very hard to find. As opposed to just very hard in London.

To me it's an easy target. I don't know many people who have eaten it. The majority of people won't miss it. There's enough apathy for an argument to be won.

If we really cared about animal welfare we'd stop raising pigs in intensive units. I keep a few pigs, they are the lovliest, friendliest, intelligent creatures. To think about them stood on a slatted floor in a crate really does turn my stomach. We'd also stop rearing chickens in cages. I never eat pork or chicken I'm not certain of the provenance of. Battery eggs stop in the EU in the next couple of years. I don't think there is legislation yet to suggest battery hens for meat are to go. Too many people eat cheap chicken. Much harder to win hearts and minds on that one.

The what will they ban next argument was used in the UK when fox hunting with packs of dogs was legislated against. I was told by several neighbours, they'll ban fishing next. Or at least game shooting. Well, no one has. In fact hunting with dogs turns out to be tricky to legislate against and goes on still anyway. We just pretend it doesn't.

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To produce foie gras, ducks and geese must be force-fed; force-feeding is accomplished by inserting a tube in the the birds' throats, to deliver the food.

These the objective points, not speculation.

Have you read the reporting of what goes on in Foie farms in the Hudson River Valley? It's on another food site, so I don't know if I'm allowed to link it. Just Google it.

The farmers allowed a team of reporters and bloggers to tour their facility, top to bottom. No locked doors. I learned some things. First of all, ducks breathe through their tongues. So shoving a tube down their throat -- while not pleasant -- isn't painful. And while they don't line up for thier gavage, they don't run away, either.

The ducks are very well cared for, because that's how the farmers get class-A foie. Stressed out, abused ducks aren't going to produce class-A, and therefore all that effort and money yields a lower return.

And while I'm sure there are industrial foie farms that savagely abuse animals, just like CAFOs and battery eggs, I don't buy from those places.

And YES, for the umpteenth time, there are TWO SIDES (or more) to this. There is the side that wants to ban food because they find it ethically questionable, and there is the side that doesn't. I'm on the latter side. If any vegetarians want to join us in the struggle to keep the food we like from being criminalized, all the better. But I don't see a mad rush of vegans demanding that foie remain legal. I would LOVE to be proven wrong on this point.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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It seems to me that there is no right or wrong that can be broadly applied on this topic, rather it is for each of us to make a personal decision. History indicates that prohibitions are less than effective, criminalising some and causing parallel markets where there can be no controls in respect of welfare issues. In order that we can each make an informed decision it would perhaps be good to have more objective information available, narrowing the gap between food production and consumption which seems ever more vast as many rely increasingly on processed 'ready to eat' nutrition - perhaps this doesn't apply to readers of these forums but it certainly seems to be increasingly the case for many.

Well, that personal decision is being made for us by people who think they know better.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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The Anthony Bourdain article entitled Food Terrorists pretty well sums up the militant vegan morons who terrorize innocent civilians. The ban is ridiculous, but will probably stand in California given (what seems to me to be) the ultra liberal overriding theme. They already won with Wolfgang, it's not a huge stretch to see them creating enough noise to see the ban stand.

It's a sad day when hysteria and misinformation pass for fact.


James.

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I am a meat eater and oppose any laws that restrict my freedoms to eat meat, animal products, etc., unless such laws address a documented case of abuse, neglect or other malfeasance. That said, the people that disagree with me, unless they are employing weapons that harm people, are not "terrorists". They may be liars, propagandists, deceivers, etc., but unless they are actually harming another person, causing physical damage, or threatening the same, they are not terrorists. I believe it is important to be careful of our words and strategies. If we are alarmist, calling our opponents names they don't deserve, then our message is lessened. If we are the reasonable ones, then our message is strengthened. Instead of calling someone a terrorist, identify the silly parts of their argument (in this case, show video of the animals running to be fed, not the behavior of a tortured animal), and let the viewer see who is the extremist.

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For those interested in learning more about foie gras production in order to inform opinion the following link is to an academic paper published in 2004 when the Council of Europe was reviewing the industry.

http://www.lefoiegras.fr/content/download/173/1441/file/doc_inra.pdf

The focus here is on industrial production rather than the small artisanal units like I visited. While the paper focuses on French production, the vast majority of foie gras originating there, it is written in English.

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I am a meat eater and oppose any laws that restrict my freedoms to eat meat, animal products, etc., unless such laws address a documented case of abuse, neglect or other malfeasance. That said, the people that disagree with me, unless they are employing weapons that harm people, are not "terrorists". They may be liars, propagandists, deceivers, etc., but unless they are actually harming another person, causing physical damage, or threatening the same, they are not terrorists. I believe it is important to be careful of our words and strategies. If we are alarmist, calling our opponents names they don't deserve, then our message is lessened. If we are the reasonable ones, then our message is strengthened. Instead of calling someone a terrorist, identify the silly parts of their argument (in this case, show video of the animals running to be fed, not the behavior of a tortured animal), and let the viewer see who is the extremist.

Read the Bourdain article, where he describes a friend who had his business vandalized, his car doused with acid, and had video of his wife and children at home (along with a threatening message) sent to him, then tell me that they're not terrorists.


James.

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To Broken English, I specifically said "unless they are actually harming another person, causing physical damage, or threatening the same, they are not terrorists". You discuss "business vandalized", "car doused with acid", and "had video of his wife and children at home (along with a threatening message) sent to him". That is causing physical damage x2 and threatening the same x1, all terrorism per my definition. Those are all cases of unacceptable behavior, people that should be locked away for the rest of their natural lives, and overall detriments to society.

Someone proposing the outlawing of a food product is not a terrorist, someone damaging property or threatening violence towards families is. It is important to maintain the distinction, we can find common ground with people of principle that we disagree with, but those that threaten families have no place anywhere in decent society.

To Mjx, I didn't mean that those that disagree with me are liars, etc, but that using those terms was within the bounds of reasonable argument, albeit on the extreme. I meant to make my agrument in the abstract but see that it could easily be understood to be specific. I mean this to be a discussion about how to disagree, not specifically about foie gras.

If I truely believe someone is telling a falsehood, I believe it is ok to call them a liar, say they are a propagandist, etc. However, in the absence of them causing or threatening violence, I do not have the right to call them a terrorist. This was my point. Not that those that disagree with me are such people, but that that is the upper limit of what I can accuse them of.

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To produce foie gras, ducks and geese must be force-fed; force-feeding is accomplished by inserting a tube in the the birds' throats, to deliver the food.

These the objective points, not speculation.

Have you read the reporting of what goes on in Foie farms in the Hudson River Valley? It's on another food site, so I don't know if I'm allowed to link it. Just Google it.

The farmers allowed a team of reporters and bloggers to tour their facility, top to bottom. No locked doors. I learned some things. First of all, ducks breathe through their tongues. So shoving a tube down their throat -- while not pleasant -- isn't painful. And while they don't line up for thier gavage, they don't run away, either.

The ducks are very well cared for, because that's how the farmers get class-A foie. Stressed out, abused ducks aren't going to produce class-A, and therefore all that effort and money yields a lower return.

And while I'm sure there are industrial foie farms that savagely abuse animals, just like CAFOs and battery eggs, I don't buy from those places.

And YES, for the umpteenth time, there are TWO SIDES (or more) to this. There is the side that wants to ban food because they find it ethically questionable, and there is the side that doesn't. I'm on the latter side. If any vegetarians want to join us in the struggle to keep the food we like from being criminalized, all the better. But I don't see a mad rush of vegans demanding that foie remain legal. I would LOVE to be proven wrong on this point.

Entirely agreed.

The problem, as is often the case, is the drastic difference between industrial foie gras production (which is cruel and can be harmful to animals; besides it yields a lower-quality product) and traditional-style artisan production, in which I see no trace of cruelty except in the fact that ducks and geese, like all animals raised for food since the beginning of agriculture, are eventually killed.

It really eludes me why anti-foie-gras activists never mention or take in account the biological facts about palmipedes, which are not speculation but reality.

It puzzles me even more to see whole states banning foie gras, period, regardless of the conditions of production which are the real issue. It is simply not true that foie gras production is, per se, cruel to animals. Industrial, large-scale force-feeding is.

Ducks and geese have no "throats", they have crops, i.e. direct connection from the mouth to the digestive system. The upper part of their digestive tube can expand dramatically to swallow large items. A feature that these birds have in common with reptiles and enables waterfowl to swallow whole fish before digesting them.

One of the effects of this anatomical disposition is that ducks and geese have no gag reflex. Their throat is not lined with cartilaginous rings and is very extensible. All that allows that tube-feeding, done in normal, non-intensive conditions, is not traumatic to the animal.

I will only briefly go back into the natural ability of ducks and geese to store energy in their livers in the form of fat before migration, a reflex farmed birds have kept from the time when their ancestors were actually migrating, for everybody normally should know those facts before debating about the supposed cruelty and unnaturalness of foie gras. They can be found in scientific studies and reports on the subject. In the same way, everybody should know that fattened liver in palmipedes is not a "diseased organ". Diseased organs have to be cured or they lead to death. Fattened liver, after migration (or after a period of force-feeding if the bird is not killed), returns to normal, with no trace of extra fat, in a period of about four weeks.

Now for personal experience. I had never seen duck force-feeding until last week when I visited a small artisan duck farm in the Pays basque. The farmer produces foies gras and other duck products of the highest quality, at the end of a carefully thought process that involves the soil the birds are bred on, the food they eat at various stages of their lives, the feeding methods, etc. Aside from the modern-style feeding machine and a home-devised solar-powered corn drying plant, all details of the process are traditional.

Ducks spend the first two weeks of their life in a warm room, on a litter of finely crushed corn cobs (soft, elastic and very absorbent). Then they are left to roam freely in an apple orchard, feeding on grass and insects and fertilizing the ground all the while. In order to prevent attacks from other animals (birds of prey, mustelidae, foxes), they are accompanied by a couple of geese which are the best (and noisiest) protection against predators. The apple trees also protect them from the sun (ducks don't like heat). They are also allowed into a field where they eat young sprouts of various cereals and plants sown by the farmer.

When they have grown larger, they live on a 10-hectare surface of corn fields bordered by a small stream until it is time for the final force-feeding period.

One important point is the breed of ducks. This farmer breeds criaxera ducks, a cross of wild mallard duck and muscovy duck which used to be the traditional local breed. Fifty years ago they could be found at every duck farm in the Pays basque. Now only a few, including this farmer, have decided to revive that beautiful, hardy breed.

The fattening period takes 15 to 18 days. It is done on large elevated cages in which the ducks have plenty of room for moving around. Fans are turned on to keep them cool. I have seen the feeding, which happens twice a day. The feeding machine is strictly calibrated to dispense a precise amount of boiled corn kernels (organic and grown on the farm) to each duck. The farmer recalibrates the quantity every day according to the season, the outside temperature, and the ducks' appetite. He has to be very precise: a little too much and the duck gets sick, not enough and the liver does not grow. We're rather far from stomach-ripping quantities.

Just before the feeding, the ducks looked stiff, attentive, a little tense. Some were panting (from a little excess heat on that day - yes indeed, ducks breathe through their tongue). As the farmer and machine approached, they got a little more lively, but by no means frightened or alarmed. Lowering the tube closer to each duck's head, the farmer gently seizes the head, opens the beak with one finger and plunges the tube into the neck. Each feeding lasts no more than three seconds. Tube is removed and he goes to the next duck. When the tube is removed, the duck looks quite peaceful.

When the feeding is over, the ducks, formerly rather quiet, seem to come alive. They cackle gently, move around, clean their feathers and spread their large wings. The farmer told me that spreading wings is a sign of duck satisfaction.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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I get what you mean, and I agree, those opposing foie are not terrorists, it's those that go further. It just seemed as though you were defending them, but upon re-reading your post I see that I just misinterpreted. I blame my iPhone's small screen, either that or I should just stop getting distracted with my modernist cuisine books I'm browsing while reading the forum. *red face*


James.

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