Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Osnav

Trotter and Tramonto square off over Foie Gras

Recommended Posts

Curiously, amidst all this talk of banning foie gras, I've recently heard of two operations starting or thinking about getting started. Still very small levels, but an interesting side note for the moment.

Probably obvious to all, but that would be American producers. Two new French producers is probably not all that newsworthy.


Derrick Schneider

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

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Derrick, do you have any links to this info? I'm interested in finding out more.

P.S. Thank you, scordelia.


Edited by Jennifer Iannolo (log)

Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Derrick, do you have any links to this info?  I'm interested in finding out more.

Not yet. One of them seems to be underway, but it's very tiny and still developing its product. I don't think they're ready to "go public" yet, but I don't know. I heard about them from a chef from the area, and I'm trying to get more info, because, you know, I've become a foie gras geek of sorts. The other one is someone who's thinking of starting one; I met him the other night and need to follow up. He's got the geese (geese! in the U.S.! that would be something), and he knows someone who has the gavage knowledge, but I think it will be a little time yet.


Derrick Schneider

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

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like foie gras geeks. :wink:

Do let us know when you find out something new. This is exciting.


Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What hasn't been proven to my satisfaction is that raising ducks for foie gras, given the best modern methods and techniques such as are in use at Hudson Valley (the largest foie gras producer in the US), is inherently inhumane.

The EU investigatory group argued that because the ducks couldn't engage in "normal" activities (within the universe of livestock animals), it constituted poor welfare. But I thought their case was much weaker without battery cages (which is why they requested a ban on them). But even they, with their noticeable anti-foie-gras bias, had to acknowledge that the few experiments that have tried to measure stress in foie gras birds couldn't come up with any chemical indications that the birds are stressed during gavage.

Right. And the EU group still doesn't address the issue of inherrently inhumane. It is, of course, absolutely possible to raise ducks and geese for foie gras in a way that is inhumane. The question is whether it is impossible to raise ducks and geese for foie gras in a way that is not inhumane. As to the question of what is and is not a "normal activity" in the contect of domesticated livestock animals, I'm not convinced that gavage prevents this any more than finishing cows on grain in feedlots, cooping chickens in henhouses, keeping milk cows in stalls, etc.

As far as I know, by the way, Hudson Valley Foie Gras does not use battery cages.


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right.  And the EU group still doesn't address the issue of inherrently inhumane.  It is, of course, absolutely possible to raise ducks and geese for foie gras in a way that is inhumane.  The question is whether it is impossible to raise ducks and geese for foie gras in a way that is not inhumane.  As to the question of what is and is not a "normal activity" in the contect of domesticated livestock animals, I'm not convinced that gavage prevents this any more than finishing cows on grain in feedlots, cooping chickens in henhouses, keeping milk cows in stalls, etc.

The report comes down on the side of the idea that gavage represents poor animal welfare, but doesn't call for a ban because of economic factors. It strongly encourages producers to look for alternate means for fattening the birds (and there's a good chance that the EU will call for a ban when the issue comes up again--2020? 2015?--it was pretty close by all accounts). I don't remember the reasoning; it's been close to a year since I last read it. But, like I said, I don't think their arguments hold as well for facilities without battery cages.

As far as I know, by the way, Hudson Valley Foie Gras does not use battery cages.

They don't. Nor does La Belle/Bobo or Sonoma Foie Gras.

edited to clarify EU's stance


Edited by derricks (log)

Derrick Schneider

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

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right.  And the EU group still doesn't address the issue of inherrently inhumane.  It is, of course, absolutely possible to raise ducks and geese for foie gras in a way that is inhumane.  The question is whether it is impossible to raise ducks and geese for foie gras in a way that is not inhumane.  As to the question of what is and is not a "normal activity" in the contect of domesticated livestock animals, I'm not convinced that gavage prevents this any more than finishing cows on grain in feedlots, cooping chickens in henhouses, keeping milk cows in stalls, etc.

The report comes down on the side of the idea that gavage represents poor animal welfare, but doesn't call for a ban because of economic factors. It strongly encourages producers to look for alternate means for fattening the birds (and there's a good chance that the EU will call for a ban when the issue comes up again--2020? 2015?--it was pretty close by all accounts). I don't remember the reasoning; it's been close to a year since I last read it. But, like I said, I don't think their arguments hold as well for facilities without battery cages.

Hm. I just noticed that I repeated myself, more or less. So I'd say that many members of the EU committee consider gavage in its current form to be inherently inhumane. But they were only focused on welfare (which they define within the report).


Derrick Schneider

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

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark Caro (the journalist who wrote the piece which spurred this thread) visits Sonoma Foie Gras:

Although Charlie Trotter had visited foie gras farms years before he decided to pull the dish from his menus, he says the moral choice becomes clear once one has observed the process. `I invite anybody, if they're able, to go to a farm and see what's up and then draw your conclusions,' he said. So we did.

From today's Chicago Tribune . . .

Duck farm flap

=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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did I miss something, or did he fail to draw any conclusion whatsoever?

That was the impression I got, as well.

=R=

I was wondering the same thing. Glad I'm not alone. :laugh:

Maybe (gasp!) he's aiming to allow his readers to draw their own conclusions? :huh: Nothing but the facts, ma'am. Hmmmm...


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact is that, unless you are a duck, it's not entirely possible to draw any 100% definitive conclusions. All we can do is rely on as much evidence as we can gather. But, it has to be the right evidence. What I have observed on the anti-foie side is a pronounced tendency to anthropomorphize and a failure to take into account the fact that duck physiology/psychology differs markedly from human physiology/psychology.

As far as we can tell with any reasonable certainty, based on an understanding of duck physiology and psychology and relying upon whatever other scientific investigative means are at our disposal, ducks raised for foie gras do not seem to suffer any more than other animals raised for slaughter. The author did not observe any overt signs of undue distress on the part of the ducks who were being subjected to gavage. Just about the "worst" thing he seems to have observed is that the ducks tend to pant as a means of cooling themselves down and have some difficulty getting around for the last few days before slaughter, when they are at their very fattest. This strikes me as not dissimilar from anything one is likely to observe in animals who are being raised for slaughter in their final days (say, a cow in the feedlot).


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was merely noting that while he says "So we did." [draw our own conclusions], he didn't...unless the Trib forgot to include part of the article.

The reporting seems pretty even-handed, though.


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

News on the French front:

Paris — Foie gras is a travesty for some, a delicacy for others but for French legislators it is part of France's cultural heritage, to be protected like a great work of art.

Lower house deputies approved a draft law Tuesday that declares foie gras “part of the cultural and gastronomic patrimony, protected in France.”

This article appeared in The Globe and Mail.


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't slogged through all 15 pages of posts on this subject, so please forgive me if I am repeating something someone else has already said. However, the posts I have read suggest to me that people have danced around this aspect of the argument, but none of them have attacked it head-on.

The aspect I have in mind is a form of class resentment.

As has already been pointed out, the biggest difference between foie gras and factory-farmed chicken is that not only is the chicken raised less humanely, it's cheaper. I've seen enough comments about the practices of the big poultry processors to know that some activists take the latter as seriously as the former, but it seems that the highest volume of outrage is reserved for the more expensive item.

Now let's substitute "SUVs" for "foie gras" and "older cars" for "factory-farmed chicken" and make the appropriate adjustments in the arguments.

Then do the same thing again, only this time with "fur" and "leather".

See a pattern here?

Part of what fuels this argument's intensity is really outrage over conspicuous displays of wealth--a subject that has sparked moral outrage for at least as long as people have been stuffing ducks to death. The problem is, as long as people are status-conscious, the passage of one sumptuary law or another will simply lead those with sufficient disposable income to dispose of it on something else that will communicate the same distinction. Free-range, grass-fed beef, let's say.

If plain old chicken cost as much as foie gras, I would predict that the voices in favor of outlawing its production would be as loud--or the attention paid to the issue be as disproportionately great--as the voices now raised against the duck farmers.

Maybe this disproportionate emphasis is morally just, for after all, outlawing inhumane chicken farms would hurt far more people than outlawing foie gras. But if all we are really doing by pushing such bans is stroking our own sense of moral superiority, then maybe, as so many of us posting here have suggested, we all should just pipe down and work to raise the consciousness of the producers rather than punish them.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicely said, and you did add something new to the discussion after all these pages!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the article linked above by VeryApe77:

Turning aside objections from restaurateurs who said it was not the city's business to dictate what diners could eat, an aldermanic panel today recommended that the full City Council ban the sale of foie gras in Chicago, WGN-720 AM reported.

The measure, proposed by Ald. Joe Moore (49th), has the backing of animal rights advocates who say it is produced by inhumanely force-feeding ducks or geese. . .

=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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The insanity continues...

Eatery vandalized after owner criticizes foie gras ban

A River North restaurant was vandalized overnight, just hours after its owner testified against a proposed city ordinance banning the sale of foie gras in Chicago.  "I think it's not a coincidence," said Didier Durand, chef and owner of Cyrano's Bistro, 546 N. Wells St.


-Josh

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The insanity continues...

Eatery vandalized after owner criticizes foie gras ban

A River North restaurant was vandalized overnight, just hours after its owner testified against a proposed city ordinance banning the sale of foie gras in Chicago.  "I think it's not a coincidence," said Didier Durand, chef and owner of Cyrano's Bistro, 546 N. Wells St.

That really is a shame. Everyone has a right to their opinion. Hopefully, Chicagoans will express their opinions to their aldermen:

Proposed Chicago Foie Gras Ban


S. Cue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Chicago City Council has delayed the foie gras vote:

Also today, a measure that would ban the sale of foie gras in Chicago stalled when an alderman threatened to use a parliamentary maneuver to delay a vote.

See full article from the Chicago Tribune


S. Cue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Chicago City Council has delayed the foie gras vote:
Also today, a measure that would ban the sale of foie gras in Chicago stalled when an alderman threatened to use a parliamentary maneuver to delay a vote.

See full article from the Chicago Tribune

Sometimes I just love Chicago politics. So old skool :smile:

=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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Chicago Tribune updated this story in today's edition:

Mayor Richard Daley has scoffed at the notion of city intervention in restaurant menus, but it was unclear whether he played a role in delaying consideration of the measure.

For now, aldermen duck vote on banning foie gras

=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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The gossip I have heard is that Mayor Daley did indeed engineer the delay. Hizzonor is very well traveled and is very knowledgable about food and wine and enjoys his foie gras!


S. Cue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...