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Another look at the foie gras issue


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Well, yes. I suppose I should say that the perception "this is pain" is a psychological interpretation of (usually) neurological signals, which in turn are (usually) generated by physiological stimuli. And, of course, there is the fact that psychology and consciousness are artifacts of neurological activity.

I was more speaking to the point that a given stimulus leading to a given neurological signal does not necessarily equal the same interpretation (of, in this case, pain) in all organisms. As previously explained, I don't think one could describe a lobster as experiencing pain.

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No, personally I can not think of one.

But on the other hand, I think it is just as cruel and hurtful (inhumane?) to see those human beings that inhabit McDonaldland (hmmm. . .Old McDonald had a farm ee ii eii o) shovelling huge double burgers jumbo fries and supersize sodas down their gullets apparently in search of the goal of their own bodies becoming every bit as engorged as any lovely piece of foie gras.

What a waste. After all, nobody bothers to make a fine meal out of them.

You forget Hanable. Fava beans.

Edited by Bill Miller (log)

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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Exactly.  (You said it better than I, and better than the article.)  The writer also makes the point that some say the larger agenda is veganism for all.  You know, because it's better for us physically and morally. Or so they say. Whoever the hell they are!

Well, at least one of the whoever is Farm Sanctuary. I was doing some research about Farm Sanctuary, whose local respresentative has convinced state representative, Chris Halford of Maui, to introduce legislation banning the production of foie gras in Hawaii. Not surprisingly, there is no one producing foie gras here nor is there anyone planning to do so; the real goal is to ban the sell of foie gras. I spoke with Farm Sanctuary's national campaign director, Meghan Beeby, from her office in their headquarters in upstate New York. I asked her if they promoted a vegetarian lifestyle and she answered, "We promote a vegan lifestyle." So it would appear that converting one and all to veganism is the goal of at least this group.

Edited for clarity.

Edited by glossyp (log)

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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If the decision as to moral or ethical finalities comes down to a measurement of anthropomorphism as deductive reasoning, then probably one should bring in the discussion of plants, too.

There are several biology professors I know who can argue well and long that plants (even the ones we eat) feel pain.

Based on things like stress tests, you know.

Personally my own viewpoint turns more often to seeing people who resemble animals (whatever that word would be)  or alternately, plants - (people and cornstalks always seem a good comparison to me) in many ways, not in seeing animals who resemble people.

Seems a bit self-involved, this anthropomorphism idea.

I think anyone who's had mammals as pets perceives some similarities between their pets and human beings, including similarities is their reactions to hunger and pain. Pets can't tell us in words what they're thinking, but we can infer things from their behavior. Having raised some chickens, I also think it's pretty evident that they feel pain, so that, for example, I oppose unnecessary vivisection of chickens, if anyone were doing that.

But if we're going to anthropomorphise geese, we might as well face the fact that there are many human beings who voluntarily fatten themselves up to extreme degrees and some of them might find the process pleasurable...

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I guess my point in that rather sarcastic post that I made was to flip the thinking on things over (simply for the exercise of it) and also to attempt to extend the thought process to include some of the ways that we as humans, perhaps do things to ourselves that might be perceived as being hurtful as what we might do to geese. In this discussion, that focus was on the idea of stuffing food into a live thing as being hurtful (or not).

Of course, though, humans do have the choice of what they do and finally the geese do not.

It was the line that was being drawn that was defining humans as being somehow hurtful to animals in raising geese for food in this manner that disturbed me - my point was that humans have a way of doing whatever things they do to *themselves* as well as to other creatures.

Just trying to clear the name of the human race by showing its soft underbelly.

No idea why I wanted to do this, ( :biggrin::blink: ) except that to me, when attempting to decide questions that have a moral or ethical part to them, I try to look at the question from each and every angle I can find before finally attempting to come up with an answer that I can live with more than not.

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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?

It's impossible to live without killing bacteria, but if we limit this to visible creatures, it probably is possible to eat without killing any, if you restrict yourself to dairy, fruits and seeds (no plant killing), and you could throw in unfertilized eggs. You could also eat certain kinds of leaves without killing the plant. For example, I used to pick young leaves off cashew trees, and it didn't seem to do any damage to the trees, because there were plenty of older leaves and new leaves grew quickly.

Stone crabs grow new claws. I'm not sure they don't feel pain when a limb is ripped off, but it seems preferable to death, even for a fowl that's never been force fed.

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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No, personally I can not think of one.

But on the other hand, I think it is just as cruel and hurtful (inhumane?) to see those human beings that inhabit McDonaldland (hmmm. . .Old McDonald had a farm ee ii eii o) shovelling huge double burgers jumbo fries and supersize sodas down their gullets apparently in search of the goal of their own bodies becoming every bit as engorged as any lovely piece of foie gras.

What a waste. After all, nobody bothers to make a fine meal out of them.

would you want to eat meat from an animal that had been largely fed quarter pounders??? :shock:

That's not a comforting thought. For one thing it means that when the URO's finally land, I may be considered one one of the more organically raised livestock earth has to offer. Grizzly bears, lions, tigers and certain mosquitoes remind me to be wary of claiming to be at the top of the food chain.

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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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!!!!

At least once, and probably more often than that, I've quoted my web site in regard to the physiology of water fowl. In particular, I've noted that "Ducks naturally swallow grit and stones. The esophagus of a duck is lined with fibrous protein cells that resemble bristles and does not bear comparison to that of a human. The activists attempts at anthropomorphism are understandable when the intent is propaganda, not enlightenment."

Somewhere I read that the bristles are composed of a material much like finger nails. Now stick that in that in your throat for comfort. It really seems that simply have the condition of being a goose is inhumane.

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 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?

Not necessarily, but there's honor in sacrificing oneself, or taking the bullet so a comrade can live. hara-kiri, or seppuku, is an honored tradition. No, I'm not offering to commit hara-kiri, although perhaps if I had more respect for life, I might. All I'm saying is that I can respect a man who thinks an ant's life is as valuable as his own. At the moment, the only reason I wouldn't order foie gras might be that I trusted the restaurant to prepare something more interesting, or that I didn't trust the restaurant enough for them to prepare foie gras.

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 believe one of the Fruitarian subgroups embraces that diet because the consume only food that would have naturally fallen from the tree without harming it.  There is, I believe, some controversy about grain, given the threshing thing.

FRUIT IS FREEDOM

Tord Åredal 1996...

Why not just become a BREATHARIAN? ( As in the book Survival Into The 21st Century by Viktor Kulviskas) or HERE>Just Breathe!

Personally, I've said it many times, I have seen our insides, and I've seen my own teeth. I believe that regardless of theology questions, we're omnivores. I live accordingly. You may make your own choice. For as long as it's legal to, that is. :wink: Soylent green may come to pass.

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...I believe one of the Fruitarian subgroups embraces that diet because the consume only food that would have naturally fallen from the tree without harming it.  There is, I believe, some controversy about grain, given the threshing thing.

FRUIT IS FREEDOM

Tord Åredal 1996...

Why not just become a BREATHARIAN? ( As in the book Survival Into The 21st Century by Viktor Kulviskas) or HERE>Just Breathe!

Personally, I've said it many times, I have seen our insides, and I've seen my own teeth. I believe that regardless of theology questions, we're omnivores. I live accordingly. You may make your own choice. For as long as it's legal to, that is. :wink: Soylent green may come to pass.

GREAT Charlton Heston, Rebecca! :laugh::laugh: And really, is there anyone who didn't fall down laughing at the Fruitarian in "Notting Hill?" And this Breatharian thing is a joke, right? Please? :blink:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Several thoughts about foie gras ran through my mind today.

The first is of its history. Where did it come from, and what was the original intent of the people who produced this product?

There is proof that the idea of force-feeding geese was known as long ago as Ancient Roman times - and even perhaps earlier.

It would seem to me, that then as today - the original intent of the producer was to practice good animal husbandry. It would be interesting to know of how it was "discovered" that a goose's liver was a most exquisite thing to dine upon when enlarged by force-feeding the goose. It would seem to me that as with most things "discovered" in long-ago days that this was not found to be so by lab tests but more likely by some gluttonous goose with a habit of overeating. Gus the Gluttonous Goose. (It has been known to happen.)

Farmers then, as today (unless they are a conglomerate) were not generally known to be among the wealthy. Careful husbandry (care - with an overlying hint of thrift attached to it) was the only way they might survive well - if they survived well at all.

To the farmer, a goose is a product.

Now the moral question must be raised as to whether an animal has the same rights to freedom as any human being, and that is something that each person must answer for themselves. . . but to my mind - well.

It used to be that when I thought of chickens my mind raced to The Little Red Hen. How cute! How sweet! A little hen, anthropomorphized into a quite sane and literate teller of How To Best Live Life. I loved chickens. Till I visited my first chicken farm.

It was there that I discovered that most chickens did not have the same innate and marvellous intelligence of the hen I loved - and indeed they stunk to high heavens and they tried to bite me.

Cows. Yes - there were always the beautiful cows out in the fields, decorating the landscape so nicely.

Visit one. It most likely will try to step on you, and will be quite difficult to get six hundred pounds of Daisy off your foot.

Lambs are adorable. But ask any farmer how much trouble a young male lamb can cause just because he is himself.

My final conclusion came to be that most animals (unless they are wily enough to pretend to want to be happy-go-lucky companions to the wonder that is the human race) are best raised to be eaten. For if they had their chance, I have no doubt at all that they would eat us.

But back to the idea of husbandry. The production of foie gras is the practice of good animal husbandry at its highest level. Here is a goose. This goose can provide a roast for dinner OR it can provide foie gras and perhaps later a nice braise. The notion of thrift, careful and thoughtful management of the natural resources that we as human beings consider ourselves to be the stewards of in this world, is drawn well in the example of foie gras production.

And thrift, itself, when practiced in this manner, is a classical virtue. It ties together a sense of care for what has been provided for us with a living reality of care shown through husbandry.

That foie gras is a luxury item perhaps causes some of the anger that is attached to it. It reeks of conspicuous consumption - there is a taint of lack of care given to the animal - there is a sense of a product being made for the wealthy while putting a poor animal at risk of pain in the process.

Yet there is no proof that the animal suffers and indeed there is evidence that these geese enjoy their feedings when properly done as any good working farmer should know how to - and as the production of foie gras is monitored by governmental agencies it probably behooves farmers to know how to do it in the right manner.

Foie gras, besides being something delicious to eat (to my mind) finally, exemplifies a virtue, not a sin. So I will thank the goose (in my mind) and be grateful to the farmers of all times past for being able stewards of many good things, and will sit down with grace intended to dine upon it.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Several thoughts about foie gras ran through my mind today.

The first is of its history. Where did it come from, and what was the original intent of the people who produced this product?

There is proof that the idea of force-feeding geese was known as long ago as Ancient Roman times - and even perhaps earlier.

Indeed, older... there Egyptian heiroglyphs depicting the force-feeding of geese that pre-date the Ancient Romans by several thousand years.

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[...]Cows. Yes - there were always the beautiful cows out in the fields, decorating the landscape so nicely.

Visit one. It most likely will try to step on you, and will be quite difficult to get six hundred pounds of Daisy off your foot.[...]

A friend of mine in Malaysia has what I guess we could call a pet bull. She lives in a village where the bull can roam around and graze, and she feeds him starfruit (not expensive locally). He was friendly and let me pet and pat him, and he did not show any inclination to butt me or step on my feet. :laugh: So I have to suggest that the way animals behave has a lot to do with how they are treated by their owners.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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So we can all have a good laugh about "Fruitarians" but it's a real religious belief.

Um, being a FRUITARIAN is NOT a religious belief, it is a LIFESTYLE choiceWhat is Fruitarianism?, and it is completely separate from being a Jain. I have known both, and they are worlds apart. Jains are not fruitarian, they eat vegetables and grains, and many of them eat roots, too. I don't think that the Jain Dharmic way has anything to do with people laughing at Fruitarians. Let me reiterate, Fruitarianism is NOT a religion.

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I would fault the periodical and not the author for this article, which should be marked 'Incomplete' and, as a result, inconclusive. It's a shame that it did not see fit to invest more space, however other MOR food glossies are now only just getting around to sustainabilty and other environmental issues, let alone battery poultry operations and the subject of real or perceived cruelty.

First, I think it would have been useful to visit more than one operation and compare them. My experience is that there is considerable variation in husbandry, technology-levels and methodologies between operations. There is also a difference in philosophies.

In short, all foie is not created equal.

Although much has been made of various gavage procedures, and the potential for pain (cruelty), in my experience there are a number of other potential stress points for the animals. It's been some time since I read the article, but these are the questions that I think need need to be answered in order for the reader to make an objective and informed choice:

1. Are the chicks hatched on site or bought-in, and from where? What species? Are the chicks allowed to roam outdoors or are they shed-raised?

2. What is the diet?

3. How are the birds tricked into false-autumn in order to trigger gavage? Starve, feed, starve, feed method? What is the in-barn lighting and refrigeration cycle. What is the bird:floor space ratio?

4. How are the birds constrained once in the gavage sheds? Metal racks? Are they wet-chilled and air-conditioned during gavage? What are the sanitation proceedures?

5. What is the proceedure for disease control and level of medication such as antibiotics?

6. What is the gavage diet?

7. What is the average weight per harvested lobe? Are the livers permitted to grow outside the ribcage (i.e. more than 500 gram lobes)? (In my experience this is a critical question.)

8. What is the morbidity rate at the chick, pre-gavage and gavage stages?

9. What are the abbatoir proceedures? Are the birds shipped for kill or slaughtered on site?

10. What is the damaged lobe loss ratio? What happens to damaged or bruised lobes or portions/

11. What is the carcass recovery methodology? Are breasts and legs harvested? Are carcasses recovered?

[Edited for spelling (it's not easy being a Virgo)]

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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First, I think it would have been useful to visit more than one operation and compare them. My experience is that there is considerable variation in husbandry, technology-levels and methodologies between operations. There is also a differnence in philosophies.

In short, all foie is not created equal.

Hmmm. Your list of pertinent questions leave me feeling rather impertinent in having made up my own mind on this question.

Although my sense of "eat or be eaten" is unlikely to be changed (as I noted, too many years of living in Brooklyn can make one this way) it still would be good to know some answers to that really good and detailed list you had the b. . b. . brains to post.

In the sentence above, you note that your experience is that there is considerable variation in several particulars between operations. I believe you, but would like to hear more if you would wish to jostle your pen into giving us more details upon your specific experiences.

(?)

Pretty please with sugar on top. :wink:

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Hey, how many people have actually lived on a beef farm? Raise your hands! Ok, I have. My inlaws raise beef and we lived there for a few years in one of the rental houses while we went to collage. Some true things: they separate the calves from the moms at a certain age and put them in different fields. I think I came close to turning into an alcoholic from hearing those calves cry out to their mothers for days. It finally stopped when they were literally whipped into a meat truck and driven away. People don't want to hear about this and would love to "kill the messenger" but it's true. Spend some time on a farm and then report back before you flame me, ok? As for the duck thing: I know they eat all sorts of crap but trying to use that to rationalize stuffing a tube down its throat? No, still not cool. It has to hurt or at the least be very uncomfortable. Good for you that they're not verbal huh? Ok and then there is this whole other argument that because we're at the top of the food chain we can do whatever we want. Think about it and think about history. People used to treat other people as animals, things that were just there for their own uses. Slavery anyone? See, now we know that it was wrong but it took a while didn't it? Just food for thought people.

Melissa

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Hey, how many people have actually lived on a beef farm?  Raise your hands!  Ok, I have.  My inlaws raise beef and we lived there for a few years in one of the rental houses while we went to collage.  Some true things: they separate the calves  from the moms at a certain age and put them in different fields.  I think I came close to turning into an alcoholic from hearing those calves cry out to their mothers for days.  It finally stopped when they were literally whipped into a meat truck and driven away.  People don't want to hear about this and  would love to "kill the messenger" but it's true. 

Quite honestly, reading that, alone, would not make me stop eating beef. Even stories from my uncle (in-law) about his working at a meat slaughtering plant didn't make me stop eating beef.

Think about it and think about history.  People used to treat other people as animals, things that were just there for their own uses.  Slavery anyone?  See, now we know that it was wrong but it took a while didn't it?  Just food for thought people.

Slavery still exists in the world. Are you going to stop drinking coffee or eating chocolate because of it?

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Your testimony as to the way those animals were treated again raises the question of different operations handling animals in different ways, Toasted. And it would be good to hear more about this if there is more to hear, if there *is* any finally solid reasonably acceptable way of knowing the percentages on how different places do things differently.

Aside from the fact that I often give voice to my thoughts in a flippant manner, this is of course nothing to be taken flippantly. My own family owns a chicken farm and a lab that develops antibiotics and other drugs specifically for poultry, so yes, I've been around chickens. Cows. . .I lived for four years in a rural area where raising beef was the source of most of the income of the folk that lived in that area. . .and while yes - I did see some examples of what you described with what might be considered unneccesary roughness to the animals (mostly at the livestock market), most farmers, including the one whose land nestled right up onto mine so that the fields connected, the barns were visible and within hearing range - did not exhibit anything except the fondest sort of care for their livestock.

Again, the best thing to do in my mind is to each educate ourselves as much as possible.

One of the problems in finding reliable sources of information, of course, is the unreliability of some of the studies undertaken. Unless one knows a subject well enough to really know how to question it correctly, one can end up misinformed by studies.

An example of this (again, somewhat in this area of livestock/animal husbandry/ animal rights/what we should eat or not) is something I saw myself several years ago. A questionnaire was sent out to the elementary school children here in the town I live in - a university town, filled to the brim and overflowing with personnages with degrees of all sorts of higher educations. The study asked questions with the intent to define what children thought about "animal rights". It asked questions like: "Is it right to kill a deer for food?" and so on. There were fifty questions of this sort. My son was given the questionnaire to fill out - and naturally I saw it.

I asked him how his friends were answering the questions - how they felt about this (as they did discuss this at school). I then asked him how his friends from where we lived before (the rural farming area) would have answered the questions. He sort of hooted with laughter. "They would have answered completely differently, Mom" was his answer to that one.

A week or so later, I called the scholars that had administered this test, who all were doing research at the university. Upon asking them if they thought this test showed a good, fair, even sampling of the population's opinion - they said "Yes, of course it does." When asked if they were going to make a note on these results (which were going to be published) that the sampling they took was based upon a population of children who were basically suburban townies from families with college-level education and a certain income level (and that this study did not include the responses of the rural children less than an hour away living in vastly different circumstances) they said "No."

There *will* be different "takes" on this question of "should we eat foie gras", for different reasons. Finally, though - I personally can not equate animal husbandry to human slavery.

And in my house, truly, it is me who is slave to my cat and to any stray animal who happens to be in my path. And I daren't ever wish that they would go to the grocery store to buy something for me to eat - because really, I do not think they would.

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... there is a religious sect, Jainism, or Jain Dharma, who are devoted to not killing any living organism for any reason. 

Strictly following the Jainist principle of not taking life has certain problems in the face of modern science. My father once knew a medical missionary to India who had worked alongside a Jainist spiritual leader. Learning of the principle of reverence for all life, he showed the Jainist a drop of water under a microscope, thus revealing that he could not even take a drink without killing thousands of minute life forms invisible to the naked eye. The Jainist was fascinated and offered the doctor an enormous amount of money for his microscope. Knowing that he could buy several new microscopes with the money he accepted. Whereupon the Jainist took the microscope out into the courtyard and smashed it.

It’s a common reaction to unpleasant information which persists to this very day.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Hey, how many people have actually lived on a beef farm?  Raise your hands!  Ok, I have.  My inlaws raise beef and we lived there for a few years in one of the rental houses while we went to collage.  Some true things: they separate the calves  from the moms at a certain age and put them in different fields.  I think I came close to turning into an alcoholic from hearing those calves cry out to their mothers for days.[...]

Perhaps we should discuss this practice in a separate thread on cattle husbandry, but why is it considered advisable to separate the calves from the mothers so early? For veal?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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