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5000 years old and still causing quarrels… Foie gras

5000 years old and still causing quarrels… Foie gras

by Eliot Collins 01 February 2015

Foie gras: the perennial ethical dilemma. Should we focus our efforts on foie gras specifically? Why not campaign against all poorly treated animals produced for human consumption?

Eliot is Chef Partnership Manager at Great British Chefs.

Foie gras: the perennial ethical dilemma. Recently, The Guardian published an article about a producer of foie gras that was being prosecuted for animal cruelty - for many, the notion that ‘gavage’, or force feeding, could be seen as anything other than cruel would be quite laughable. But one of the biggest voices in Britain’s culinary scene, Raymond Blanc, tweeted about the subject, urging us to keep perspective and pointing to other cruel production methods in food.

Chef Pascal Aussignac from Gascony, the owner of Michelin Starred Club Gascon, is a proud user of the product, but believes it needs to be treated with respect and sourced in the same way you would when looking for ethically sourced fish, meat, fruits, vegetables and cheese.

Another French-born British industry leader is removing another meat from the menu of his second London restaurant, Grain Store, because he believes the environmental impact of beef farming will have dire consequences for generations to come. The internationally inspired menu only had one dish that featured beef previously, and despite many cattle farms treating our local cows with wide green pastures, Loubet is not one to shy away from making a statement against the consumption of this world-wide staple protein.

Maybe we need more happy-go-lucky geese farmers, like Eduardo Sousa whose fascinating story (which you can read here) paints an idyllic picture of making 'foie gras' - the only problem is, because it doesn't involve gavage, it can't technically hold the supposedly coveted foie gras label!

Should we focus our efforts on foie gras specifically, or should we be taking the moral high-ground on all poorly treated animals?

The foie gras debate is perhaps even more hotly fought in the US. Mark Caro, reporter, journalist and author of ‘The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight' has written an entire book on the ethical debate on the consumption of foie gras in the US.

The San Francisco Bay area in particular has a big voice when it comes to ethics, morals and social consciousness. So what did some of area's best cooks have to say about the recent overturn in the banning of foie gras? You can read more here, but it seems they too are more open to small-scale foie gras producers than the factory-like production that supplies most of the country with other forms of meat.

Should we focus our efforts on foie gras specifically, or should we be taking the moral high-ground on all poorly treated animals that are produced for human consumption?

We force cows into a pen for milking; we cram live sheep onto trucks to travel long distances for slaughter; and our never ending hunger for chicken has created hellish industrialised practices.

 

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