FOIE gras is French for "fat liver". Despite it's popularity among the customers, this four letter word is quite unpopular among animal activists. This is because although it is a delicious food, attaining it requires the inhumane treatment of ducks and geese.
"Dan Barber, chef at Blue Hill restaurant in New York and a leader in the global food ethics debate, nailed the situation when he said that, "the problem for us chefs is that [foie gras] is so freakin' delicious. It makes everything else you put it with taste incredible."
"Barber went on to say, "Can we [chefs] produce a menu that's delicious without foie gras? Yeah, sure, you can also bike the Tour de France without steroids — but not a lot of people are doing it."
The foie gras industry has also expanded from a European artisan practice of raising a few geese to feed the family over winter at the beginning of the 20th century to a multimillion-dollar factory farm industry, mostly based in France, employing 30,000 people. There every year 20 million ducks and 800,000 geese are raised to be slaughtered, producing 21,000 tonnes of foie gras and 30,000 tonnes of meat for the restaurant industry.
France, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, Canada, the US, and China produce foie gras.
To make the liver of a duck or goose a "FOIE gras", the birds are force fed for the short span of their lives. They are able to have a very enlarged liver due to the fact that their bodies are meant for the purpose of storing food for migration, and typically the liver does enlarge during this period in time. However, forcing the liver to enlarge many times its usual capacity can result in very painful health problems for the ducks and geese.
In order to facilitate handling of ducks during gavage, these birds are typically housed in individual cages or small group pens during this phase. Cages restrict the natural behaviors of the birds and can cause lesions and inflammation of the feet and breast in 40 to 70 percent of birds due to continual rubbing against the cage.
- livers swollen to many times their normal size
-impaired liver function
-expansion of the abdomen making it difficult for birds to breathe
-death if the force feeding is continued, and scarring of the esophagus
Tell our President today that this inhumane practice for a small dish in a fancy restaurant is completely unnecessary and must be stopped immediately.