Have your foie gras and eat it, too.

Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for this one. Kevin posted this on Foodists.ca, and I can’t believe that I hadn’t heard about it sooner.

This video sums up my sentiments about the importance of sustainable agriculture, eating local/seasonal food, and how you can taste all the love and hard work that goes into your food. Surprisingly enough, Dan Barber uses foie gras to illustrate his point.

He talks about his trip to Spain to visit a farm that produces humane foie gras. The geese feast on figs, olives and seeds. They’re happy and plump. And the resulting foie gras won the 2006 Paris International Food Salon Coupe de Coeur award for innovation. Dan Barber calls it “the best culinary experience of [his] life.”

The video’s 20 minutes long, and it will change your life. I’ve watched it twice, both times rapt with attention. Watch the whole thing, but pay attention to the second half. I mean, the first half is great, but it really hits its stride after the 12:50 mark. I wish I had said it, but Dan says it better.

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One response to “Have your foie gras and eat it, too.

  1. That one farmer in Spain is able to get geese to produce foie gras caliber livers is no excuse for eating and endorsing foie gras. Technically, his livers are not foie gras, as foie gras is, by definition, force fed. But that’s just semantics. It’s all liver, but this liver is not from animals who have been confined and force-fed, so it avoids most of the humane issues of foie gras production.

    This process is only practical in geese who have an instinct to migrate. I have read that he was unable to produce the quality of liver this past year as the weather was unseasonably warm and the geese didn’t eat the same amount as they had in previous years.

    Geese are not commonly used for foie gras anymore (I think they’re about 10% of total production) for two reasons. One, they can’t handle the intensive farming practices under which most foie gras is produced. They get sick to easily in those sorts of crowded circumstance. Secondly, geese are not able to be artificially inseminated, so they can’t be bred as easily or as cheaply as ducks.

    For these reasons, PdS’s foie gras costs nearly twice what even the most expensive duck foie gras costs. It is also not available outside of Europe. I’ve heard of a place in Nanaimo that claims to have it, but looking at the price per plate I doubt it.

    There are other alternatives to foie gras available currently. Polderside has been working on naturally fattened duck livers that are not force fed, but they are not “foie gras” and chefs in the area have been unwilling to use them. Oyama actually uses these livers in their faux gras pates, but they do not taste or feel the same when pan-seared.

    An easy alternative to the force-feeding of foie gras would be to avoid force-fed foie gras until there is an alternative. Just as Michael Pollan avoids beef unless there is grass-fed beef, one can not order foie gras unless it has not been produced through force-feeding. Also, just because someone CAN get geese to gorge until their livers are enlarged to a foie gras level, doesn’t mean that ALL foie gras is ok. In fact, it seems to me all the more reason to not eat foie gras. Until chefs see that people won’t eat an inhumane product, they’re unlikely to source a different product.

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