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Foie Gras Production

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alanbarnes Dec 16, 2010 09:28 AM

Linguafood pointed out an article that Kenji Lopez of seriouseats.com posted today. He and some other folks went on an all-access tour of a duck farm where foie gras is produced. He talks about the conditions there, the production methods, and the ethical issues that have been raised. IMO it's well worth a read...

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/12/th...

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  1. The Chowhound Team Jan 16, 2011 01:17 PM

    The discussion of how foie gras is produced never seems to go well, and we've had to remove a number of angry responses from this thread. The discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.

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    1. Caroline1 Jan 16, 2011 12:56 PM

      Yup. Well worth a read, and thanks, Alan. But it does leave a question or two for me. The first one is, if ducks breath through their tongues, WHY do they have nostrils? Huh? Huh? Will somebody please answer me that! And this is not exactly a question, but I'm forced to assume they must have immune systems from hell, else why don't they get sick from having the same tube used for gavage, duck after duck after duck, with no pause to clean it? Curious minds and all that jazz. I do prefer the flavor of goose foie gras to duck, on the other hand, if that brand of duck foie gras holds its fat well when grilled... Well, just think. If the geese in France had the same quality in the foie gras they produce, we might never have had sous vide come our way! Interesting article. I like the way that guy thinks!

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      1. re: Caroline1
        sunshine842 Jan 16, 2011 01:14 PM

        for the same reason that men have nipples?

        I can't speak for the farm in the referenced article, but I know that on small farms in France, the "sharing" is limited to a small group of ducks, fed by one individual (usually a woman...just because the ducks seem to prefer women, for whatever unknown reason).

        And yes, like most animals, they have a highly developed immune system. One of the most popular over-the-counter immune system enhancers sold in France is called Oscillococcinum, which is a homeopathic remedy prepared from....duck livers (I'm guessing the regular ones), because of the legendary powers of a duck's immune system. EVERYBODY takes it, and everybody swears by it.

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      2. s
        soupkitten Jan 15, 2011 02:37 PM

        btw the article states that there are only 3 foie gras farms in the country. *error.* perhaps "3 foie gras farms that distribute nationally" would be a better way to avoid not glossing over the smaller producers. smaller producers may have a limited area of distribution, but they are also quite likely to be humane and ethical (and very traditional) in their animal husbandry practices.

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        1. ibstatguy Dec 18, 2010 01:53 PM

          Just read the Lopez article and felt that it was as thorough as any I've seen elsewhere

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          1. c oliver Dec 16, 2010 01:59 PM

            Terrific article. Thanks, alan and lingua. I'm going to show my ignorance by admitting that I always thought foie gras was from geese. Learned LOTS of new things here.

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            1. re: c oliver
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              soupkitten Dec 16, 2010 07:05 PM

              hey if you'll feel better, you ain't wrong, foie gras can be made with either duck or goose liver!

              in fact it used to be much more commonly made from goose liver, i just think that ducks are the more commercially viable option these days in america (meat aside from liver more popular). geese also are also some cranky sons, ducks make more sense for a bigger operation.

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              1. re: soupkitten
                c oliver Dec 16, 2010 07:17 PM

                Oh whew. I feel better. I AM pretty old.

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              2. re: c oliver
                alanbarnes Dec 16, 2010 07:08 PM

                Foie gras just means "fatty liver." Duck, goose, whatev...

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              3. Veggo Dec 16, 2010 12:45 PM

                I recall a write up of Hudson Valley Foie Gras at least a year ago, with very parallel content. The writer concluded with a comment I enjoyed and I paraphrase, "Ignoring for the moment the destiny of the duck, they live a pretty good life. "

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                1. re: Veggo
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                  doctorandchef Dec 16, 2010 01:24 PM

                  It was a well researched and well written article, although some may interpret as being a little biased but the information it contained is mainly accurate. I did find the comments more interesting than the article, lots of opinionated people with agendas out there!

                  I visited a foie gras farm in Perigord last year, a small family run operation. The farmers genuinely seemed to care for their ducks and treated them quite gently. Plenty of room in the barn to waddle around, plus they had access to an open field. They certainly looked a lot more comfortable than caged chickens. From all the videos I have seen the ducks didn't seem to be averse to the feedings (unless they have zero memory and are not "intelligent" enough to avoid it)

                  It is in the farmer's best interest to keep the ducks as comfortable and healthy as possible to maximize the quality of the product (therefore getting the best price for each liver).

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                  1. re: doctorandchef
                    Veggo Dec 16, 2010 01:37 PM

                    A bit deflating that the price begins at $30 /lb wholesale and escalates to $129 /lb retail at my local fancy store for whole cryovac'd frozen lobes.

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                    1. re: Veggo
                      Caroline1 Jan 16, 2011 12:19 PM

                      Once in my life -- ONE TIME! -- I tried to create my own foie gras by force feeding a goose, then having him for Christmas dinner as well. Believe me, paying the retail price is easier! On the other hand, you don't end up with enough down to to make a king size comforter and three pillows! I'm glad I did it. Once! I will not do it again. Ever! Besides, it didn't work very well and it's a royal pain to have to keep force feeding the damned goose. But Christmas dinner was delicious.

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                2. linguafood Dec 16, 2010 11:12 AM

                  Makes it taste soooo much better!!!!

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