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Trotter and Tramonto square off over Foie Gras

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Front page of today's Chicago Tribune!

Charlie T. is a hypocrite.

Rick T. is an idiot.

The foie gras wars has turned Chicago chefs against one another.

rikkitikki


"the only thing we knew for sure about henry porter was that his name wasn't henry porter" : bob

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Interesting article in the Tribune here

"It's a little hypocritical because animals are raised to be slaughtered and eaten every day," Tramonto said. "I think certain farms treat animals better than others. Either you eat animals or you don't eat animals.

"Rick Tramonto's not the smartest guy on the block," Trotter retorted. "Yeah, animals are raised to be slaughtered, but are they raised in a way where they need to suffer? He can't be that dumb, is he? It's like an idiot comment. `All animals are raised to be slaughtered.' Oh, OK. Maybe we ought to have Rick's liver for a little treat. It's certainly fat enough."

Upon being told Trotter's comments, Tramonto would say only, "Charlie's in my prayers.""

If nothing else, maybe this will result in a Trotter vs. Tramonto grudge match on Iron Chef America :biggrin:

-Josh


Edited by jesteinf (log)

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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Front page of today's Chicago Tribune!

Charlie T. is a hypocrite.

Rick T. is an idiot.

The foie gras wars has turned Chicago chefs against one another.

rikkitikki

Charlie T. seems most upset by battery cages (though the reporter might have slanted it that way). Did he think to visit, say, any of the U.S. producers, none of whom use them?


Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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"Rick Tramonto's not the smartest guy on the block," Trotter retorted. "Yeah, animals are raised to be slaughtered, but are they raised in a way where they need to suffer? He can't be that dumb, is he? It's like an idiot comment. `All animals are raised to be slaughtered.' Oh, OK. Maybe we ought to have Rick's liver for a little treat. It's certainly fat enough."

Maybe they should bring Minister Farrakhan in to settle the beef (no pun intended) before it gets physical.

Charlie = Tupac

Rick = Biggie.

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Famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter is no one's idea of an animal-rights activist. He has devised mouth-watering preparations featuring just about every creature deemed fit for human consumption,

I have beside me The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The man raised his own livestock, slaughtered it and ate it too. And he had painstalkingly documented it so we can see it all in glorious colour in print and it was televised for the Idiot Box.

I'd call Fearnley-Whittingstall an animal rights activist. There is a panel illustrating the slaughter of a young bovine creature. It begins with the animal being ushered into the back of a vehicle and proceeds to show the stunning, hanging, bleeding, skinning and complete dismantling of the animal. This is followed by recipes(with pictures even) using the very same dismantled parts of the dead animal that becomes nourishing food.

Starting from his 'Meat Manifesto' and through the 500+ pages, his message is clear.

Respect.

Foie gras, said to have its origins in Egypt 5,000 years ago, is created by force-feeding the birds with grain, thus causing their livers--and the rest of them--to grow dramatically.

This always -always- annoys me. So what if foie gras has its origins in Egypt 5000 years ago? What IS the point? Does a 5000 year old practice have more credence over a relatively younger one?

Trotter said he became uncomfortable with serving the delicacy after visiting three foie gras farms (he refused to identify them) and concluding that the ducks were suffering as they were kept in small cages and fed grains through tubes inserted down their esophagi.

Ermm. Arent there only three farms in the States?

Upon being told Trotter's comments, Tramonto would say only, "Charlie's in my prayers."

No comment.

Nevertheless, Guillermo Gonzalez, owner of Sonoma Foie Gras in California, argued that Trotter and those who follow him are just furthering the animal-rights cause.

"They may not realize that they are being instrumental in the ultimate agenda of the movement, which is to terminate the consumption of animals for food altogether," Gonzalez said.

WTF? Is Gonzalez suggesting that Trotter have no opinion and that it should be sacrificed at the altar of Foie Gras Producers?

Hudson Valley Foie Gras co-owner Michael Ginor, whose New York company produces about 4,000 foie gras ducks a week, accused Trotter of taking a stance based on calculation.

Hmm. Let us see. What Ginor and Gonzalez are saying is that Charlie Trotter has to protect the Foie Gras Producers(2, arent they?) and their fat profits. How utterly ungracious of Charlie.T!

I think I will stop quoting because there is limit on the number of words that can be quoted from news articles.

some more points:

I think the person who spoke about growing up in south-west France in Foie Gras farms should stop imagining that SW France is in anyway similar to California or New Jersey. There is no history of Foie Gras production in this country. What is very interesting to me is the rigid stance of these FG producers and their insistence that they are doing nothing wrong. There is enough material online and video/photographic evidence of the horrible conditions in these Foie Gras farms.

Maybe people should start taking note of other exceptionally cruel practices and appalling conditions in the animal rearing industry instead of turning a blind eye to FG farm conditions in the US.

They definitely ought to stop imposing their opinions on others. It is one thing to whine that they are 'not understood' and a completely different issue to demand sympathy.


Edited by FaustianBargain (log)

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Thanks for the link, Josh. When it comes to foie gras, I'm in the "for it" camp but the "anti" arguments stated in the article are not without merit. To me Trotter seems like a hypocrite not because, as Tramonto states, "'animals are raised to be slaughtered and eaten every day. . .'' but because Trotter's 2001 tome ". . .contains 15 recipes that use foie gras . . ." Still, I suppose that a change of heart is a change of heart. But Trotter's stance kind of reminds me of the most militant non-smokers in the world, former smokers.

In the end, the local battle between the 2 sides is more compelling to me than the actual issue. Sure, I enjoy foie gras, yet I know I could easily live without it. But, when business owners attack each other publicly over this, they risk alienating themselves from the potential customers who share the other side's view; and seeing them do so -- in print -- surprises me. I guess it reflects the intense passion behind their beliefs.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Those are some strong words by Chuck Trotter. I wonder if he has personally inspected all the places that he buys meat products from? Furthermore, some of the seafood he serves is not enviornmentally sound (example Blue Fin tuna according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium should be avoided).

Justin

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I'm surprised at the name-calling by Trotter. Not exactly taking the high road, is he? In my opinion, calling your opponent names like that never strengthens your case.

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Most people here know that I like foie gras. I've seen Guillermo's farm and in no way believe what he is doing is cruel. He respects his ducks and I respect the product he produces. No sense beating THAT dead horse and we can certainly go round-and-round again debating the issue, but I see no point in that.

I'm just curious... Didn't anyone think it was remotely odd that the Chiciago Tribune article was written by the entertainment reporter? (Yes, I know, the restaurant critic also contributed...)

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I said this a long time ago, but I'll say it again. My German Stepgrandpa raised "fat Geese" and "fat Ducks". They were fed noodles cooked with butter every day, separated from the other birds. They certainly were not forced. And hon, they would knock you down if you were between them and the feed gutter.

Therefore I believe that fois can be humanely raised.

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I could be convinced by some of the anti-foie gras arguments, or at least convinved of the non hypocricical motivations of those in the anti camp. But here's the thing: if we're going to talk of "humane treatment" and "quality of life," there is simply no way a duck raised for foie gras doesn't have a much better life than the average factory chicken.

I've said before that if I had to choose between living as a duck faised for foie gras or living as a Tyson chicken, I'd choose to be the duck in a heartbeat. Does this mean that some of the foie gras criticisms don't have merit? Of course not. But it does say to me that many of the anri foie crusaders have their priorities mixed up. You want to crusade to improve the lives of animals raised for slaughter and consumption? good for you. Where do you think you'll affect the greater number of animal lives -- working against foie gras production or working for better conditions in chicken factory farms? I'd say it's around one million to one in favor of the latter, if not more.

Trotter wants to ban foie gras and refuses to use it in his restaurants? Fine. Well, he ought stop serving chicken and beef and lamb in his restaurants as well, unless he can demonstrate that the animals slaughtered for his restaurants have a substantially better quality of life than ducks raised for foie gras. And hey, while we're at it, let's talk about "line caught" fish, which are dragged through the water by a hook piercing the jaw and then "drowned" to death in the air. If Trotter thinks all the animals he served at his restaurants live "suffering free" lives, by his definition, he's sadly mistaken. Does he suppose every piece of beef he serves came from a cow raised as the beloved pet of an Amish family until it was lulled to sleep with a reading of Charlotte's Web and then gently, lovingly killed as it dreamt of sweet clover?

Now, of course, there always comes the question of what is acceptable treatment for any animal raised for slaughter. For this, it helps if one has an understanding of the animal's physiology and, to the extent possible, psychology. The esophagus of a duck, for example, is lined with something very similar to the material our fingernails are made of. And, of course, ducks and geese have a natural gorging instinct. One reads of ducks gathering around the feeder and standing in line to be gorged. Is this unnatural? Yea, to a certain extent. So is feeding grain to cows. Domesticating an animal and raising it for slaughter is inherrently "unnatural." But it's not clear to me that doing any of these "unnatural" things necessarily makes the animal "suffer." Could the gorging method be done in a way that was inhumane? Certainly. But that doesn't mean that the gorging method is inherrently inhumane. So I say it is a flawed premise to declare foie gras production inhumane based simply on the gorging method. This would be inhumane for humans, and probably for most mammals, but not for ducks and geese.

So, I invite everyone who renounces foie gras for reasons of conscience to also renounce any animal that is not raised free foraging on a family farm, including any animals "finished" on grain.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I said this a long time ago, but I'll say it again. My German Stepgrandpa raised "fat Geese" and "fat Ducks". They were fed noodles cooked with butter every day, separated from the other birds. They certainly were not forced. And hon, they would knock you down if you were between them and the feed gutter.

Therefore I believe that fois can be humanely raised.

The last statement is true only if all the fois(sic) in the world is the same and nothing but the same ones that resided inside the geese and ducks your German Stepgrandpa raised.


Edited by FaustianBargain (log)

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I said this a long time ago, but I'll say it again. My German Stepgrandpa raised "fat Geese" and "fat Ducks". They were fed noodles cooked with butter every day, separated from the other birds. They certainly were not forced. And hon, they would knock you down if you were between them and the feed gutter.

Therefore I believe that fois can be humanely raised.

The last statement is true only if all the fois(sic) in the world is the same and nothing but the same ones that resided inside the geese and ducks your German Stepgrandpa raised.

Could you clarify this, FaustianBargain? I'm not sure it makes logical sense.

As I read it, Mabelline is saying that she believes the way her German Stepgrandpa raised geese and ducks for foie gras was humane, and that this means it is possible to raise geese and ducks for foie gras humanely. This makes logical sense to me. If we accept that her German Stepgrandpa could do it humanely, then it is possible for anyone to do it humanely.

I'm not quite sure what you're saying but it sounds like you're saying that Mabelline's statement to the effect that it is possible to raise geese and ducks for foie gras humanely is true only with respect to the geese and ducks already raised by her German Stepgrandpa? This doesn't make logical sense to me, but perhaps I am not interpreting your statement correctly.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I've said before that if I had to choose between living as a duck faised for foie gras or living as a Tyson chicken, I'd choose to be the duck in a heartbeat.

You'd choose to be a factory farmed, force fed duck rather than a factory farmed chicken?

Hmmm...Why, pray do tell?

I realise that it sounds as if means something, but it is merely a meaningless statement repeated over and over again without people understanding the import of the words that are strung together in that order. But I have always wanted to know why someone would choose and prefer forcefeeding over and above what factory farming has to offer.

Where do you think you'll affect the greater number of animal lives -- working against foie gras production or working for better conditions in chicken factory farms?  I'd say it's around one million to one in favor of the latter, if not more.

I think this foie gras issue has attracted the attention of many who werent even aware of factory farming. Thanks especially due to those who prefer being forcefed factory farmed ducks over factory farmed chickens!

See? One stone, two birds.(bad example, but you get the idea)

The esophagus of a duck, for example, is lined with something very similar to the material our fingernails are made of.  And, of course, ducks and geese have a natural gorging instinct.

Yet another quote that is popular and has been used ad-nauseum, ad-infinitum without sufficient understanding.

One reads of ducks gathering around the feeder and standing in line to be gorged.  Is this unnatural?  Yea, to a certain extent.

A small producer of foie gras(think about 200-300 ducks a year, not in the 1000s) exploits this natural gorging instinct. These artisanal farmers allow their ducks to be free range and I believe these birds do show the least amount of trauma while being 'force fed'. This is known as 'gavage' and the French term for such artisanally raised ducks is fermier. Even in France, highly intensive and cruel gavage does takes place. The percentage of fermier that comes to your favourite restaurants is rather small. I dont think even the chef can tell unless he sources them directly from a producer he knows well.


Edited by FaustianBargain (log)

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I've said before that if I had to choose between living as a duck faised for foie gras or living as a Tyson chicken, I'd choose to be the duck in a heartbeat.  Does this mean that some of the foie gras criticisms don't have merit?  Of course not.  But it does say to me that many of the anri foie crusaders have their priorities mixed up.  You want to crusade to improve the lives of animals raised for slaughter and consumption?  good for you.  Where do you think you'll affect the greater number of animal lives -- working against foie gras production or working for better conditions in chicken factory farms?  I'd say it's around one million to one in favor of the latter, if not more.

It's easier to win your battles if you start small instead of going for the big picture. It's no different with the anti-foie forces. By going for a relatively small number of producers and using the power of the pocketbook as a wedge issue, the anti-foie groups see themselves as effectively positioned for the long-term.

The fact that there's a debate going on right now amongst restauranteurs and the dining public is a victory for the anti-foie groups. If the legislative bills in Illinois and elsewhere don't pass, it still won't matter. What does matter is that the court of public opinion has been engaged. The legislative hocus pocus is just gravy as far as these people are concerned.

Soba

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Alright, semantics aside, I was attempting to relate the ability of raising big healthy, over-fattened ducks and geese in a humane way, such as voluntary feeding. And yeah, take away my keyboard, I wrote fois for foie ; so sue me. All the folks who've never raised animals, but "KNOW" how they should be brought up need to go live on a real working farm for a month. I dare ya.

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If we accept that her German Stepgrandpa could do it humanely, then it is possible for anyone to do it humanely.

Her German Stepgrandpa does not represent everyone.

She also indicated that he raised ducks and geese. Even if we assume that they were raised for foie gras, I doubt if anyone these days are 'forcefeeding their ducks and geese with noodles cooked in butter in a feed gutter.

Also, I would question whether there was a need for intensive farming of ducks or even such a high demand for foie gras during her German Stepgrandpa's time.

If they are free range, they are not factory farmed. I dont think her Stepgrandpa ran a foie gras factory. (Did he, M?)

I'm not quite sure what you're saying but it sounds like you're saying that Mabelline's statement to the effect that it is possible to raise geese and ducks for foie gras humanely is true only with respect to the geese and ducks already raised by her German Stepgrandpa?  This doesn't make logical sense to me, but perhaps I am not interpreting your statement correctly.

I am saying that the conditions under which Mabelline's German Stepgrandpa raised his ducks and geese should be the same conditions under which ducks and geese raised for foie gras today if we are to believe that most foie gras that comes to our tables isn't the product of excessive, unnecessary and irresponsible cruelty to animals.

Just because something can be done doesnt mean that it is being done. Just because something was done in the past under different circumstances, in a different enviroment, time and culture doesnt mean that that behaviour is passed on unaltered. There is no room for such an assumption and it cannot be validly supported.

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Alright, semantics aside, I was attempting to relate the ability of raising big healthy, over-fattened ducks and geese in a humane way, such as voluntary feeding. And yeah, take away my keyboard, I wrote fois for foie ; so sue me.

Ok, we can clarify here.

Mabelline, did your German Stepgrandpa raise his ducks and geese for foie gras?

All the folks who've never raised animals, but "KNOW" how they should be brought up need to go live on a real working farm for a month. I dare ya.

I'd take that offer.

What do you think will change a person who has a stance against factory farming if he/she goes to live in a real working farm for a month? Explain this to me, please. Do you think that anti-animal cruelty folks will enter a "real working farm" and start campaigning for cruelty towards animals? Or pro-factory farmed foie gras, in this case.

P.S. I am sorry if I gave you the impression that I was mocking your spelling. God knows, I am fluent in typo.

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Based on my reading, admittedly of other people's experiences but at least of those I respect, I don't find that gavage is inherently cruel. If there are conditions at duck farms that are unnecessarily cruel they might offer reasons to eliminate these conditions. I've read no evidence, that beyone the controversial practice of gavage there is any practice that is not equally or more unsavory happening at any number of chicken factories, yet we are faced not with a campaign to improve the conditions under which all poultry are raised, but a campaign to outlaw foie gras no matter how it's raised.

If the campaign has raised consciousness about all poultry farming why doesn't it shift its target. The answer is simple. The majority of Americans want cheap chicken. They neither need nor want foie gras. It's an easy target and the forces working against foie gras will keep these targets separate. FaustianBargain can reconize the difference between small foie gras producers and large ones just as she can recognize the difference between chicken factories and free range farms. Those who call for the elimination of all foie gras seem to favor politics over morality in this campaign.

That a water fowl's esophagus is quite unlike that of a human continues to be glossed over with the lack of understanding given as a reason for dismissal of the difference is far too disingenuous a argument. That geese will run towards the feeder is proof alone that they don't mind the tube. Banning foie gras in lieu of banning factory farming of fowl is simply not going to make farmyards better places for chickens. It sends the wrong message to farmers. Working to improve barnyard conditions and working to get the fowl out into the yards may. It may also provide healthier poultry for us to eat.


Edited by Bux (log)

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I've seen Guillermo's farm and in no way believe what he is doing is cruel.

Can you tell us what you saw, Carolyn? I'd like to know.

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OK--I have a confession:

I have never liked missionaries. Practice your religion and go to Heaven. Don't try to convert me from my religion. It's none of your fucking business!

You don't want to eat/serve foie gras? Great! Don't do it.

Don't want to drop that lobster in the boiling water (after reading last year's Gourmet article on lobsters)? No problem.

Likewise, cute little lambs & baby cows.

You say you don't want to eat bunny tacos? Okay by me.

What about those chickens that never see the light of day? And if you would see the way modern pig farming is conducted; you probably would swear off that, too.

This is all okay by me.

And if it's okay with you, I would like to make my own choices, too.

Thank you.


"the only thing we knew for sure about henry porter was that his name wasn't henry porter" : bob

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AGHHHH, I hate it when I try to make a simple statement. FB, Paul, who married my gram in the 40's and adopted all 7 of her kids, was German from Dueseldorf. The raising of the poultry and fowl were my gram's provenance and money. He was, however, the one who advised on the geese and ducks, as the way they were raised in his homeland. I am real sorry you mistook GUTTER. That is the trough for birds.

Don't ever think consumers are pickier today. The folks then all knew what a good bird looked and smelled like.

We raised about 700 poults, 50 geese, and 100 ducks each year. I'm talking about the 50's and early 60's, and we only had 960 acres. So yeah, they weren't taking on the market, but everything got sold.

My point was exactly as slk took it. You do not have to be cruel to raise an animal.And I did not EVEN mean to imply that working with animals for a month would induce to be nonchalant about cruelty---quite the contrary.

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He was, however, the one who advised on the geese and ducks, as the way they were raised in his homeland. I am real sorry you mistook GUTTER. That is the trough for birds.

Hmm...I understood that feed gutter=feed trough. I also assumed that feed gutter/trough means that they werent forcefed with a tube stuck down their gullets. And if it were the case, the fact that these birds were active and running around meant, to me, at least, that they werent confined to cages like most factory farmed birds are...

Which part did you think I misunderstood?

My point was exactly as slk took it. You do not have to be cruel to raise an animal.

You do not have to be cruel to raise an animal. Yes. And?

This doesnt eliminate the possibility that an animal can be raised in a cruel manner.

And I did not EVEN mean to imply that working with animals for a month would induce to be nonchalant about cruelty---quite the contrary.

No, I didnt think you implied anything like that. I just did not understand the challenge direct at those non-farm folks to work in a farm for a month. What would that achieve? It would, just as you said earlier, would only increase the strength of their convictions. Anti-cruelty people will be unchanged in their point of view. Those who are unaware of farming practices and apathetic towards perceived cruelty may or may not change their opinion, but the other group is unlikely to change their stance.

I dont know where the disconnect in our communication occured. If it was because I misinterpreted something you said, I apologise for the confusion.

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I do not know of a single rancher or farmer in my circle of acquaintances who does not have a deep feeling for the animals they raise. Those who don't, do not stay for long.

Factories are vile. Be they animals or humans, the point is to make the most out of the least possible outlay.

No offense taken, none meant.

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