By Saintra Thai
San Bernardino, Calif.
I am a foodie. But I have ethics. And my ethics prevent me from eating foie gras. Being an ethical foodie isn’t always easy, however.
After all, foie gras is considered a delicacy throughout the world. It is widely used in French culinary recipes because of its compatibility with other ingredients. It’s popular practically everywhere, from European bistros to three-star Michelin restaurants in New York.
Yes, it may taste delicious. But rather than consuming foie gras without a second thought, consumers should know where it came from before taking the first bite.
The method of making foie gras is detestable and has gained much scrutiny and condemnation from animal activist organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Indeed, foie gras has been banned in California and parts of the Middle East and Europe — even though that idea is appalling to some diners and chefs.
But here’s the truth about foie gras, which means “fat liver” in French: It’s made primarily from ducks and geese, and requires an intense process known as “gavage” that is inflicted on the bird at an early age.
The bird is deliberately kept in a cage to prevent it from exercising. When it is fed, it is strapped down and forced to consume a diet high in starch, protein and fat. Through a tube, the animal is essentially stuffed with more food than it can handle. The process often results in the bird’s esophagus being punctured.
Forcing the bird to consume up to four pounds of feed per day causes it to develop hepatic steatosis, also known as fatty liver, a disease that causes the liver to enlarge to up to 10 times its normal size. Indeed, this is the whole goal.
I cannot vocalize enough how unnecessary and cruel it is to produce foie gras in this way, especially when there are humane ways to produce foie gras, such as the method discovered by renowned chef and scholar Dan Barber. He forgoes gavage and only uses wild geese, which are more prone to overeat themselves in comparison to their domestic counterparts.
I am a foodie with ethics. Even though I will never be a vegetarian, there is no logical reason to torture an animal just to get the makings of a fancy appetizer. It’s inhumane, and my stomach won’t tolerate it.