Home > Gathering Ingredients, Maundering > Foie is not your foe

Foie is not your foe

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I know you’re a pretty avid supporter of pate de foie gras and, to put it slightly diplomatically, irked by folks who are lobbying to get it banned.  So I’m sure you’d be happy to read the following post about the physiology of duck-feeding, de-bunking some of the worst misconceptions about how foie gras is produced.

Certainly from the point of view of this writer, responsible producers maintain a facility that’s as humane as any farm where animals are raised for slaughter. The ducks aren’t crowded, they’re in good health, they have room to roam, and they’re basically unruffled (get it? See what I did there?) by the gavage process.  In fact, ducks swallow their food whole, store it in their crop,  and grind it up in their gizzards like many birds. So giving them more food than they can digest at once just mirrors what they do when they’re storing food for a migratory journey, albeit to a greater extent.

The one thing that blew my mind? Ducks have a trachea completely separate from their esophagus – and it runs from their lungs out through their tongues! So ducks breathe through their tongues.  That’s just weird, man. It’s so weird, I think we should eat them.

So there you go, chef – if ever you want to do something other than spit bile and mock anti-foie gras activists, you can give them as a rational rejoinder. Anyone who eats chicken – which are fattened in their pens like any domestic animal – should feel ethically okay about eating foie gras.

I still can’t find any locally though. What a pain in the liver!




  1. Mary Poplin
    December 27, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Ethical Foie Gras:


    Locally, though, I have no idea. Though I saw an article about a CA hunter finding it in one of the wild pintail ducks he shot.

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