Skip Nav
Food Video
Japanese Hotcakes Instantly Make Mornings Happier
Cooking Basics
5 Meals Tyler Florence Thinks Every Millennial Should Master
Food Video
You've Been Cutting Cakes Wrong, but We Can Teach You the Right Way

Village Voice Article: Foie Gras Humanely Produced

Foie Gras May Be Humanely Produced After All

When it comes to culinary controversy, there are few things more divisive than the fatty duck liver known as foie gras. The reason? The allegedly inhumane "gavage," or force-feeding process, which involves placing a metal tube down a duck's throat to deliver large amounts of food. In fact, the 5,000-year-old French delicacy has had such a bad reputation that it was once banned in Chicago, and will be banned in California by 2012.But in a recent investigative piece, Village Voice contributor Sarah DiGregorio visits the nation's biggest foie gras farm, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and finds the process to be relatively inoffensive. She writes:

The sights could not have been more different from the horrifying images I'd seen on the Internet . . . the actual process with the tube didn't seem to bother them . . . Each waddled calmly away, looking unfazed: no breathing problems, no vomiting, and no trouble walking. Their feathers were fairly clean, and I didn't see any lesions on their feet or bodies . . . If I had seen with my own eyes that Hudson Valley produced foie gras by abusing ducks, this article would have turned out very differently. But that just wasn't the case.

I found myself relieved to read at least one perspective demonstrating that the production of foie gras was far less harmful than PETA and its opponents have portrayed it. Were you surprised by DiGregorio's investigation? What impact do you think this will have on the foie gras industry?


Join The Conversation
Just-Oh Just-Oh 8 years
Unfortunately there are articles like this one printed a couple of times per year and the misconceptions about foie gras are only slowly fading. It would be nice if science, rather than raw emotion, informed our public policy. Chicago already reversed its ban on foie gras, California should abandon its misguided plan.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Well at least a journalist is being honest about this practice (at this farm at least) people like me who love foie gras have always known that there are places to purchase it where it is humanely produced...and entirely yummy.
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
I am not surprised but then I worked at a beef abbotair in my university holidays when I was younger. And I can honestly I was impressed with the way the animals were treated. Unfortunately the process of obtaining food from animals is never going to be cruelty free and meat is an excellent source of protein.
OhMyDragonflys OhMyDragonflys 8 years
I don't agree with force feeding any animal. I buy my meat from publix (I forget the brands name) where the animals were free range and lived comfortably before being slaughtered. I used to be a vegetarian but I got really sick, I hate eating meat but really...what can you do? I eat as little as possible and am hopeful of the prospect of humane death of the animals in the future.
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
@ lommie, not just bulemics: pornstars too.
lommie lommie 8 years
Just because they don't "seem" to be bothered, or appear unfazed and don't vomit, doesn't make the act any more acceptable. It's likely that they've become so accustomed to having a foreign object shoved down their throat unwillingly that their gag reflexes no longer get activated. Similar to bulemics.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
kmckay I agree. Just because they don't look in pain doesn't mean they aren't. I think this is horrible just the same.
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
Well, duh! :)
DCStar DCStar 8 years
I once visited a duck farm, and let me tell you - those ducks are treated so much more kindly than chickens ever are. If you want to have issues with animal cruelty then look to poultry farms and stockyards.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I basically agree with shoneyjoe. I don't think that this is going to change people's minds. The veg people will continue to find ways to label the practice as inhumane, and those who eat foie anyway will just use it to justify the practice to those who find fault with it. Basically, I'm guessing it will just preserve the status quo.
Smacks83 Smacks83 8 years
I've heard of places that do overfeed (not forcefeed with tubes) ducks (which as was pointed out is a natural action for them to do before migration). The livers are smaller than forcefed ones and do cost more but for me personally I wouldn't mind tryig it at higher prices (never had it though). All the animal products (meats, dairy, eggs..ect) come from local farms that allow animals to roam, eat organic grass, sit in the sunshine and do what they naturally do. There is a much higher price tag on these types of products, but I'm willing to pay more and eat less if it means animals have better quality of life. Maybe I'll give it a shot (when its in season later).
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
"What impact do you think this will have on the foie gras industry?" I think it's clear from the three people who have already commented so far: a vegetarian who is "still against the practice", a vegan who still uses the term "diseased" to describe livers that the article concluded were not so (see p. 4, quotations by Dr. Jaime Ruiz and Dr. Tirath Sandhu), and an omnivore who reacts rather predictably as well. More answers to your question can be found in the heated arguments available from the Village Voice article's comments, which strongly suggest that nothing amounting to actual change is in the air. Very rarely does a story like this change people's minds about their actions. The general response is either "Oh, I knew that already" or "I don't believe it." In this case, we can add a third: I'm mildly less opposed, but I'm still opposed. I eat foie gras - I like it a lot. And this article hasn't changed my opinion of how tasty it is. And since I'm already OK with my food having once been alive and now no longer so, I've worked that part of the morality of meat into my cost-benefit analysis of eating the stuff. I weep no more for the cow that has been slaughtered than for the carrot that was cruelly plucked from the ground, skinned and roasted for my amusement. What does get to me is that Hudson Valley spent more on legal bills this month than I will this semester on tuition and housing. Passed on to the consumer, that's a lot of extra money to charge, and the only people benefiting are the lawyers, most of whom would likely eat foie gras, and now have the income to do so. Come to think of it, keep suing - I need a job when I get out of law school.
kcmpls kcmpls 8 years
With a little research, you will learn that Foie Gras was discovered because ducks naturally stuff themselves before they migrate. "Force feeding" them is just helping them along with what they would do to themselves regardless. Au Bon Canard, here in Minnesota, is another producer of humane foie gras. All the restaurants that use foie gras here use this brand. Not only is it humane, but it is also better tasting according to experts. And people act like KILLING a duck is humane. If you are going to be okay with killing a duck then there should be no problem with humanely raising them. Is it any different than force feeding cows corn and other grain at the end of their lives?
kmckay kmckay 8 years
ooh happy ducks with tubes shoved down their throats so they could be forcefed, get diseased livers and have wealthy people enjoy eating them. awesome.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i think that it's really nice to know that it's not as inhumane as once suspected. i'm still against the practice, but i think that it's a bit better to know that it's not quite as bad as everyone's thought. i feel like we need to hear things like this -since everyone's always so against how animals are raised for food. (granted i'm a vegetarian, so i can't believe that i'm saying that this isn't so bad).
JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case Information
Transgender Texas Woman Posts About Bathroom Bill
Undocumented Father Detained by ICE
Adam West Dead
From Our Partners
Latest Food
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds