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Jan 12, 2011 05:49 AM

Foie gras farm tour near Montreal?

I'm wondering if anyone has had the opportunity to visit a duck farm that makes foie gras in the Montreal area (up to 2 hours away).

While I'm a huge fan of foie gras, I often find myself defending the practice to friends who claim it's inhuman and cruel. While I think it's challenging to definitively confirm or deny that allegation (and not what this post is about), I'm interested in observing the practice first-hand.

I'm going to find out if Brome Lake Ducks offers tours, but ideally I'd visit a smaller-scale producer (and hopefully one who can provide a tour in English, or won't make fun of my limited French).

Any leads? Searching the Chowhound board and Googleing have not proved fruitful. Merci d'avance!

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  1. Canards du Lac Brome doesn't produce foie gras. They just do ducks. Stay away from battery operations like Champs d'Élysée. They will only confirm your friends' assumptions. Look at smaller operations like Palmex who seem to be doing free-range foie. There's also a farm in Eastern Ontario that produces foie gras without using gavage. Not really the industry standard, but rather interesting.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      Thanks very much SnackHappy. Ideally I'd love to visit multiple farms to educate myself on the differing types of operations (and how they treat their ducks).

      So unfortunately it turns out that neither Palmex nor Mariposa offers tours of their faciltiies (just got off the phone with both of them). Although this food blog writer seemed to have scored a tour:

      I also called Aux Champs d'Élisé for kicks and when asked if they offer tours, the individual said "of course not, why would we?". Something to hide, perhaps?

      The search continues...

      1. re: vidkid

        You could always speak with Martin Picard; he's at least acknowledged that he's toured one facility. Or you could go to France as there are facilities in the Pau/Lourdes/Tarbes area which provide tours.

        And Qux Champs d'Elysée is right: why would they? They're a business, not a tourist operation. A feedlot operator would give you the same answer.

        1. re: wattacetti

          I was unnecessarily harsh on Aux Champs. I was just hoping it might be like Ford or RIM in that they offer school groups tours of their manufacturing facilities.

          I don't disagree though that, being in a socially and politically sensitive business, offering tours could cause them more harm than good.

          Still, the foie needs its educated evangelists (foiegelists?).

    2. I eat foie gras and don't have an issue with the way it is produced when done properly (i.e. the animals, even if they are going to be dead at the end, need to be raised and handled properly (i.e. humane );

      The issue is that often activists groups target shady productions (to try to produce at the lower cost possible) and/or use "agent provocateur" to mis-handled the animals while filming themselves. (what you can mostly see on youtube).

      Just imagine having a tube inserted into your throat and forced to swallow a "small" quantity of grain couple of times a day!!

      anyway, whatever happens, it's impossible to change people minds, especially in those cases.

      Tells us what you can find.

      1. i believe bourdain has video on his site of the process in a hudson valley farm

        5 Replies
        1. re: betsydiver

          Yup, I've seen that episode:

          Still, a first-person account is always excellent to invoke in an argument.

          1. re: vidkid

            I'd still go to France. Clos Lapeyre is in the region I mentioned earlier so you can quaff after your tour.

            1. re: wattacetti

              It is possible to visit La Ferme Basque ( They have nice facilities and amazing products! It's in Charlevoix though, near Baie St-Paul, so kinda far from Montreal!

              1. re: mystikdrey

                Closer than France but very near Maurice Dufour and other fromagiers. And an artisanal bakery that's about to open up.

                1. re: wattacetti

                  Wonderful - thanks all for the suggestions.

                  And wattacetti, you're totally right. If I'm really serious about understanding the provenance and providence of foie gras, je dois vraiment aller en France.