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Another look at the foie gras issue


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Rand Richards Cooper takes an interesting look for himself at the foie gras issue. Although we have a debate over this issue going on other threads, I'd be interested in hearing about any issues you think he has left out, or anything else that should be mentioned. It was an educational article for me, and I learned a few things.

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Rand Richards Cooper takes an interesting look for himself at the foie gras issue.  Although we have a debate over this issue going on other threads, I'd be interested in hearing about any issues you think he has left out, or anything else that should be mentioned.  It was an educational article for me, and I learned a few things.

Comments?

Beat me to it, jgm. Interesting and true point, I think, about PETA and the anti-foies not being able to take on the meat industries -- too much money and power comin' right back at them. I always liken the foie gras battles to the anti-fur and leather crowd, who'd rather chase old ladies down Park Avenue than head up to Montana or Wyoming. Easier marks, yanno.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I think another aspect that places foie in such a position that it is in is that there is no way to make the production method of it much more humane. Regardless of all other factors, you still have to force feed the animals by a tube to produce the desired level of fat in the liver. All other forms of meat produced can be more humanely obtained, but foie must remain as it is.

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I have great respect for the concept that it's unethical to kill a living thing simply to eat, in spite of the fact that it's apparently a very natural thing in the wild. I have trouble with the position that it's simply unethical to force feet a bird, given the evidence that in some circumstances, geese, who do not normally seem to be friendly to humans, will come running to a feeder with his (or her) feed and tube.

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'll have to take a look at this article, though I doubt it will change any of my thinking at this point (and I've now ranted enough about that).

Food chain. Top. The end. :smile:

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)

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Sure other forms of meat can be produced more humanely, but they aren't.  Chicken factories are far worse than foie gras farms, but no one seems to care.

I couldn't agree more.

Foie gras producers are generally smaller, non-factory style enterprises where the animals are permitted some sense of freedom and an outdoor existence.

The number of birds used to produce foie rounds to zero when compared with the numbers that are caged by the corporate factories to produce boneless, skinless chicken breasts wrapped in non-recyclable plastic; or even more repulsively to manufacture such vile products as chicken nuggets.

At least the duck gives up its life for something delectable and magnificent.

The cowardly mission of certain groups, particularly lawmakers, to appear to be concerned about animal rights by banning foie gras is perplexing when they pander to the corporations that create much more hardship for many more animals.

Edited by gruyere (log)
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This is what happens when humans transfer their own feelings and experiences onto animals, mistakenly assuming them to be the same.

My son (a doctoral candidate in microbiology) assures me that the digestive system of waterfowl is entirely different from our own. Due to the fibrous nature of their diets, they have evolved a much tougher and less sensitive tract (consider the texture of gizzards) making it highly unlikely that they truly feel any discomfort during the feeding process.

Just my two cents.

Edited by The Apostate (log)

I'm so awesome I don't even need a sig...Oh wait...SON OF A...

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This is what happens when humans transfer their own feelings and experiences onto animals, mistakenly assuming them to be the same.

My son (a doctoral candidate in microbiology) assures me that the digestive system of waterfowl is entirely different from our own. Due to the fibrous nature of their diets, they have evolved a much tougher and less sensitive tract (consider the texture of gizzards) making it highly unlikely that they truly feel any discomfort during the feeding process.

Just my two cents.

That's the most interesting argument I've heard yet and certainly the most likely to get someone to shut up about this topic...... Thanks for posting!!!!

Chantal

www.kawarthacuisine.ca

"Where there are vines, there is civilization"

from Mondovino

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I have great respect for the concept that it's unethical to kill a living thing simply to eat. . .

You mean there is a way to feed yourself without killing living things?

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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The article in question actually showed a fairly balanced approach to the question. That the ultimate conclusion of the author was indecisive was, however, IMO a copout. This was probably because the magazine wished not to offend either camp.

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

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This is what happens when humans transfer their own feelings and experiences onto animals, mistakenly assuming them to be the same.

My son (a doctoral candidate in microbiology) assures me that the digestive system of waterfowl is entirely different from our own. Due to the fibrous nature of their diets, they have evolved a much tougher and less sensitive tract (consider the texture of gizzards) making it highly unlikely that they truly feel any discomfort during the feeding process.

Just my two cents.

That's the most interesting argument I've heard yet and certainly the most likely to get someone to shut up about this topic...... Thanks for posting!!!!

The beautiful irony here is that anti-foie advocates' anthropomorphizing of geese is actually one of the most grossly human-centric things they could do.

I keep hoping that come some August or September PETA will organize a trip to the Arctic to hang out with all those cute and cuddly-wuddly polar bears, and in the process come face to face with the food chain issue brought up by others here...

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This is what happens when humans transfer their own feelings and experiences onto animals, mistakenly assuming them to be the same.

My son (a doctoral candidate in microbiology) assures me that the digestive system of waterfowl is entirely different from our own. Due to the fibrous nature of their diets, they have evolved a much tougher and less sensitive tract (consider the texture of gizzards) making it highly unlikely that they truly feel any discomfort during the feeding process.

Just my two cents.

Nothing like a tough gizzard to make having a metal pipe shoved down your neck feel like a Swedish massage! And then the force-feeding followed by slaughter! I don't know which is more fun, eating the foie gras or being the duck that gives it up!

In my experience, both sides in this debate have an unfortunate bent for ludicrous oversimplification. I eat foie gras, I have friends who won't. We all agree, however, even at the top of the food chain, there is merit in avoiding needless cruelty. Whether foie gras production falls into that category is a legitimate question. Building up straw men and knocking them down ("The beautiful irony here is that anti-foie advocates' anthropomorphizing of geese is actually one of the most grossly human-centric things they could do") or falling back onto glib observations ("Food chain. Top. The end.") brings very little illumination to the discussion.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I did not say "Food chain. Top. The End." to be glib. As I've stated before, that statement comes from the philosophical perspective that we, as conscious beings, can put the creations of nature to our use as we see fit. Whatever one's opinions are regarding morals, processes, etc., they don't change the reality of that.

Is that the illumination to which you were referring? :smile:

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)

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I am always amazed at the hostility that people in the food business visit on those who believe that animals should be treated humanely. Does that mean you would feel just fine about kicking your neighbors dog because he pooped on your lawn? I doubt it.

Why does it seem incongruous that folks who love well crafted food necessarily must treat animals cruelly?

I eat meat, but not foie or veal. My diet also includes a lot of vegetarian meals as well. Not because I have any emotional reason for it, it just feels healthier.

I only buy free range, non factory farmed meat. It tastes better, is healthier, and generally has a higher yield because it isn't pumped up with saline solution.

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In my experience, both sides in this debate have an unfortunate bent for ludicrous oversimplification.

I couldn't agree more. Here's a particularly ludicrous example.

Nothing like a tough gizzard to make having a metal pipe shoved down your neck feel like a Swedish massage!

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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I eat meat, but not foie or veal. My diet also includes a lot of vegetarian meals as well. Not because I have any emotional reason for it, it just feels healthier.

I only buy free range, non factory farmed meat. It tastes better, is healthier, and generally has a higher yield because it isn't pumped up with saline solution.

How about free range veal?

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I did not say "Food chain. Top. The End." to be glib. As I've stated before, that statement comes from the philosophical perspective that we, as conscious beings, can put the creations of nature to our use as we see fit. Whatever one's opinions are regarding morals, processes, etc., they don't change the reality of that.

Is that the illumination to which you were referring?  :smile:

Even as you elaborate your thoughts -- "as conscious beings, can put the creations of nature to our use as we see fit," -- it seems pretty insubstantial. If we, for example, decide to put nature "to our use as we see fit," by say, turning a productive river into an open sewer to keep manufacturing costs down, is that ok? How about Bear-baiting on ESPN? And why have any animal cruelty laws at all? If it's cheaper for me to starve and beat my horse, why not? And all that complaining upthread "what about the chickens and the sturgeon?" I guess we needn't worry about them, either.

I'd suggest thatrather than absolute masters, we are, in fact, stewards, with responsibilities as well as rights.

Also, I've noticed that other animals besides humans tend to be conscious, as well. My cat, for example, is only conscious a couple hours a day, but appears to feel pain, respond to stimuli, crave affection. I'm not saying that you have no right to turn her into violin strings, but being cavalier about such an act is, well, glib.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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In the grand scheme of things, ducks and geese having too much to eat doesn't rank very high on the list of problems with modern food production. We've got downer cows ending up in the food supply. Factory chicken farms with beak-less chickens crammed into tiny cages stacked on top of each other. Dead chickens being processed for food. Poorly run salmon farms polluting our coastal waterways. Stocks of wild fish dwindling from over fishing. Never mind all the problems with agribusiness vegetable production.

There's no shortage of responsibly raised veal - something has to happen with all the male offspring that are born on dairy farms. I'm sure that the geese and ducks that are raised on foie gras farms would rather be flying around free, but the same is true for any other animal raised for food. I'd much rather be a goose at a foie gras farm than a chicken at a Tyson's factory farm - though neither would let me be as snarky as just being myself, so I'll pass on both of those alternatives.

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This argument of where humans are in the food chain always reminds me of A. Whitney Brown's famous quote:

"I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals... I'm a vegetarian because I HATE plants."

It all comes down to your own personal perspective, I guess. No one has been able to submit the "Killer argument" so far.

TomH...

BRILLIANT!!!

HOORAY BEER!

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I did not say "Food chain. Top. The End." to be glib. As I've stated before, that statement comes from the philosophical perspective that we, as conscious beings, can put the creations of nature to our use as we see fit. Whatever one's opinions are regarding morals, processes, etc., they don't change the reality of that.

Is that the illumination to which you were referring?  :smile:

Even as you elaborate your thoughts -- "as conscious beings, can put the creations of nature to our use as we see fit," -- it seems pretty insubstantial. If we, for example, decide to put nature "to our use as we see fit," by say, turning a productive river into an open sewer to keep manufacturing costs down, is that ok? How about Bear-baiting on ESPN? And why have any animal cruelty laws at all? If it's cheaper for me to starve and beat my horse, why not? And all that complaining upthread "what about the chickens and the sturgeon?" I guess we needn't worry about them, either.

I'd suggest thatrather than absolute masters, we are, in fact, stewards, with responsibilities as well as rights.

Also, I've noticed that other animals besides humans tend to be conscious, as well. My cat, for example, is only conscious a couple hours a day, but appears to feel pain, respond to stimuli, crave affection. I'm not saying that you have no right to turn her into violin strings, but being cavalier about such an act is, well, glib.

Mr. Sweeney, should you choose to be a steward, you are of course free to do so. I choose to be a captain.

The world around me is mine to mold, and my morals dictate how I will mold it. I'm not on my way out the door to pollute a river, nor do I take the life of any animal lightly -- particularly one that has served as a source of nourishment to prolong my life. No rational human being would. That is not cavalier, glib, or (insert morally condescending adjective here).

I should have been clearer in stating that human beings are the most conscious, which by default puts us at the top of the food chain. However, I have said as much repeatedly, and such details seem to matter little at this point, as you will assign whatever descriptors seem to suit your agenda, and I've had quite enough of that. Good day.

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)

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