Of All These Foods, Why Foie Gras? | CookingDistrict.com

Of All These Foods, Why Foie Gras?

Right now, California is in the news for its upcoming ban of foie gras. But of all the controversial foods on the market, why does foie gras get the focus of protest and anger? Most of the chefs serving foie on their menus are not only aware of the practices involved in producing it, but actively seek out humane, sustainably raised foie farms. This attention typically falls across the entire menu, promoting local, sustainable, and humane purchases throughout their entire business. As Paula Wolfert smartly points out "I'd rather be a force-fed duck than a Tyson chicken.''

The Huffington Post recently published a story highlighting 8 other foods that deserve the angry mob's attention before foie gras. For reasons of scale, sustainability, and far worse animal treatment (reread Paula's comment above) the Huffington Post argues these ingredients deserve the attention first. I won't argue that everything below should be banned, though I'd support an end to a few of them (e.g. shark fin harvesting). More importantly, I see hypocrisy in the attention and devotion for the anti-foie movement when there are so many other more important food afflictions happening daily.
Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin might be the most widely-cited example of overfishing. They are caught way above the allowed quota with minimal recovery allowed for the stock.
Shark Fin
As we've discussed on this site, the practice of sourcing shark fin is not only disgusting and cruel, but it is bad for the ocean's health. To be fair in this editorial, shark fin is getting more attention these days and will be outlawed in California as well.
Palm Oil
Palm oil production is devastating rain forests and the animals that live within them. The Girl Scouts have pledged to use less of it in their cookies, but that's "only a drop in the bucket."
Farmed Salmon
After accounting for concerns such as sea lice and other diseases within the densely populated salmon farms, consumers should know that these ailments are spilling into the wild stocks of fish now.
Coffee and Chocolate without Fair Trade Practices
Much of the world's coffee and chocolate is produced by mistreated and exploited workers in poor countries. Fair trade practices are working towards a solution, though they bring a new set of issues for the local cultures to deal with (often greater economic inequalities inside those countries).
Feedlot Cattle
Mass produced, grain fed beef has three big concerns: environmental (rainforests cut down, effluence to deal with, etc.), animal treatment (overcrowding, abuse), and human (raised e.coli concerns, human labor conditions).
Junk Food Marketed to Children
This one's hard to argue with as well. If you haven't read it, pick up a copy of Fast Food Nation.
Factory Farmed Chicken
Referring to Paula's quote yet again, if you've ever been to a large scale poultry operation then you've been disgusted by the conditions for both the animals and the people working there. Contrast this setting with a humane foie gras farm and the whole debate can feel superficial.

Source: Huffington Post


jlockley • 11/02/2011
This is an extremely unfortunate piece, as it begins with the false premise that foie gras IS evil, but the lesser of several. It is, in effect, uncharacteristically stupid-dumb writing by the HP. Who knew they were capable? . I am sick to the point of tossing my cookies of defending the product to people who do not want to listen as they know that their feelings are right. (Comment in a recent discussion: You can tell me all the veterinary and historical facts you want, it doesn't matter, it's not a necessary practice to sustain life, foie is nothing more then a status symbol, just like an over priced car.) And with that, the world is flat and the sun circles the earth. For those who want some insight, please read the latest pieces on http://culinarypromiscuity.com - one with facts and one describing the law. I would also suggest the thoroughly entertaining and so far unbiased "The Foie Gras Wars" by Mark Caro, a sometimes vegetarian who pulls no punches to either side.
kewchef • 11/02/2011
Read up on what happen in IL. with foie gras. the IL gov lost the battle on that.
ninalg88 • 11/03/2011
Why do you believe the article presupposes that foie is evil? Because the author labeled it 'controversial?' It certainly is controversial- to the point that California is banning it and Chicago came damn close to doing the same. Does it presuppose foie is evil because it is being discussed in the context of other controversial foods? They're pointing out the hypocrisy of sustainable, humanely produced foie being viewed as evil in a world where shark fins are still freely traded (freely traded for the most part). It might not be an argument for why foie gras is a great food to consume, but I thought it was a clear argument to stop calling it evil. In my respectful opinion, of course.
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