Fois Gras Revisited: Delacacy or Disease

I’ve written about this issue before. But with the holiday season comes a renewal of the controversy over this French liver paté.

As I already noted, many people have a mistaken idea about how fois gras is produced. They believe it is cruel. But while it’s not pleasant for the duck or goose, it doesn’t really hurt them. Does this make their liver diseased? Yes. But these birds are going to be killed for food anyway. In the meantime, they are well treated, unlike most other food animals you find parts of in the supermarket.

Fois gras means “fat liver.” It goes back more than 5,000 years to ancient Egypt, where someone learned that the liver from ducks preparing to migrate was tastier than regular liver. Ducks and geese store fat in their livers in preparation for the long migration flight. But otherwise, birds don’t overeat. So, to get the livers of domesticated ducks and geese fat you have to force feed them, a procedure called gavage.

Some animal activists say this process is mistreatment. They say it causes a fatty liver, which is a state of disease. To that I say, “DUHHH!” They have tried to make fois gras illegal. But American fois gras producers have fought back and had most prohibitions repealed.

About 300 tons of this liver paté are produced in this country every year, about one-sixth the amount produced in France. The only forms of fois gras that can be imported must go through extensive sterilization procedure, which many gourmets believe ruins the taste. Fresh versions are not allowed into this country.

My questions to those who oppose the use of this treat is: Is this any more cruel than any form of slaughter? Do you want domesticated food animals to be kept as pets? Or are you just against the eating of any animals or animal products? The fact is, we humans are omnivores, meaning we eat animals and plants. If you choose not to eat animals or animal products, that’s fine. But don’t tell me what I can or cannot eat!