What is foie gras?
Translated to English, foie gras means fatty liver. It is known as an expensive, even luxury food, especially popular in French cuisine. This delicacy is actually made out of duck or goose liver that has been enlarged by force-feeding animals large amounts of food. Foie gras is a highly-priced gourmet food that can be prepared in a variety of ways but tends to be served as a pâté with bread or crackers. However, it’s not the price that makes the dish so controversial. The production of foie gras is considered extremely cruel by many, as it involves force-feeding young ducks or geese until their livers swell to at least eight times their natural size. This is known as gavage, a labour-intensive force-feeding process that had been practiced by the ancient Egyptians who force-fed domesticated geese.
Foie gras has a velvety texture and a meaty flavour, it is also fatty, rich, and highly nutritious. It is extremely pricy as it requires force-feeding labour and huge amounts of feed to fatten the livers of the animals.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding foie gras – the well-known delicacy popular in French cuisine. Many animal rights and welfare groups contend that the production methods of foie gras are cruel and inhumane to the animals. In some countries, the production or even import of foie gras is illegal. But what exactly is it and why does it cause so much dispute? To learn more read on and visit foiegrasfacts.com.
Is foie gras really cruel?
Foie gras is a cruelly produced food that causes the animals to suffer enormously. Birds that are raised specifically for foie gras production are fed multiple times a day by forcing a thick pipe down their throats and pumping huge amounts of grain directly to the animal’s stomach. Foie gras is a product of a diseased animal that had its liver enlarged in an unnatural way. Moreover, animals suffer from infections and painful punctures in the beak and throat caused by forcing the pipe down to their stomachs. Not to mention the fact that these ducks and geese become too heavy for their own legs to hold them which means they are not able to move normally in already cramped, small, and dirty pens they are locked in.
Many investigations into foie gras production sites show that the animals who get sick from the conditions mentioned above, die and are thrown into a garbage heap. These investigations reveal appalling conditions where the dead ducks or geese are tossed into trash cans or simply left alongside living animals who are already unable to breathe or move.
Summing up, here are some of the procedures that make foie gras so cruel:
- Birds are confined in small, cramped cages that sometimes can be so packed that the animals are not even able to turn around, and definitely not to walk freely
- The torture begins already when the birds are 8 or 10 weeks old and lasts for around 4 weeks; workers shove metal tubes down birds’ throats and pump enormous amounts of food into their stomachs. This process is known as gavage and is repeated multiple times a day. This causes ducks’ and geese’s livers to swell up to ten times their normal size
- Force-feeding can also cause organ failure, infections, pneumonia, and injuries to the birds’ beaks and throats
- The wire cages often cause foot and leg injuries
What measures have been taken to ban it?
Many welfare activists and animal rights groups started the fight against the production of foie gras. Here is a list of some of the actions taken to ban this cruel procedure.
- In 2001, a letter was written by the Director of the New York State Government Affairs & Public Policy Dept. for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (leading American environmental activist group) to NY Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, in regard to prosecuting foie gras producers for violating animal cruelty statutes
- In 2003, the French group Stopgavage had published the Proclamation for the Abolition of Force Feeding. It is a document that asks representatives of the justice system to find the production of foie gras as a practice that violates existing animal welfare laws.
- In 2005, APRL, IDA, and PETA released a video showing footage inside the three US foie gras farms and several in France
- In 2014, Compassion in World Farming partnered with other organizations to pressure the EU Commission to take action against the production of foie gras
Foie gras has been unilaterally banned in several countries, including the Czech Republic, Finland, Denmark, Italy, most of the Austrian provinces, Germany, Poland, Norway, Luxemburg, and Israel, and also in some of the states in the USA.
What you can do
There are some steps that you can take to help end this cruel practice.
- The Animal Legal Defense Fund has set up a tracker form that allows the public to report illegal foie gras sales in California.
- There are various groups that advocate for the ban of foie gras, including the Humane Society, and you can join them in contacting lawmakers to make a change.
- One of the best ways to help is to be informed and spread the word about the cruelties of foie gras. By spreading information about the cruelties behind the production of foie gras, restaurant-goers will become discouraged on partaking in ordering, eating, and economically supporting the foie gras industry.
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