Foodosophy & Politics of Foie Gras – understanding, and misunderstanding of a touchy issue


Hate to interrupt the burger stream, but I read a letter today that I felt was important to get out there. It’s discusses the strengths and faults of the Foie Gras debate, and more importantly, gives a balanced view on food-related issues in general that should reinforce to anyone the importance of getting educated on the issues and challenges our society faces, especially as it relates to food.

Beware my soapbox, but I believe the key part in all this is to GET EDUCATED. Don’t hear a story and feel like you have the facts. Don’t project your own personal values onto an issue and assume you know what’s going on. We’re all guilty of that to some extent. The best thing all of us can do is to continue to talk, study, and understand the challenges we face together, and the best way to address these problems.

Many of my thoughts have all been summed up in this letter by Chris Cosentino – a chef i have a up and down “relationship” with – never met the man, but how else to describe a person who is in the public consciousness.

I love his food and what he stands for. His blog, Offal Good, was one of the first things that drew me to reading content on the internet. Through a variety of food network exposures, I found him less likable – whether through bad tv editing, or just statements that were less than flattering. Well, i’ve come full circle again. He gets it. And I hope that someday everyone will. Because like it or not, food is something we consume everyday – and there are issues that need addressing before it consumes us.

Sorry to talk at you…but this is something I really believe in, and stands at the core of my personal food beliefs. It was something i needed to say. I would love to hear what other people think about his letter, because while I connect with his view point, it doesn’t mean im not open to hearing a different point of view.

Hope you have a great day.

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12 thoughts on “Foodosophy & Politics of Foie Gras – understanding, and misunderstanding of a touchy issue

  1. Anthony Bourdain visited a foie gras farm on No Reservations a few seasons ago. He discusses the concept of gavage with a vet who explains the physiology of the duck. If you are open to being educated about agricultural processes, that video does wonders. That openness unfortunately does not seem to be present among the anti foie gras militants.

    Cosentino’s letter is a fantastic piece of writing and sums up my opinions as well. Thank you for linking to it.

    • Hey Peter,

      I saw that episode of No Reservations. It was great. But i think because Bourdain comes across as a militant pro-foodie, sometimes people will tune him out, regardless of how valid his message is.

      The most divisive, or interesting story in the pro/anti foie gras argument is about Pateria de Sousa, who is producing top quality foie gras without gavage. The anti gavage militants point to this as a sign about how unethical gavage is. The pro foie gras side point to this as a sign that waterfowl gorge, and thus gavage is not unethical. Any thoughts on this?

  2. I think I may have seen the anti gavage style foie on an episode of The F Word a few seasons back. If I recall, correctly, Gordon compared both ways. Wasn’t a huge difference, but he quickly picked the traditional I believe.

    I could not agree more with your second paragraph Foodosopher. Well said. In fact, that same mentality needs to be applied to many more topics in life, but that’s for another time.

    I really like the letter. Sums things up nicely. I was also under the impression that waterfowl do gorge, and thus the gavage is simply making this possible.

  3. I do very vaguely remember similar issues in my childhood about frog’s legs in Europe. Quelle horreur.

    I grew up catholic and I am done feeling guilty about anything right I do. That includes eating.

  4. I second raidar’s opinion of your second paragraph. People just jump into conclusion, sometimes even with the headers! No wonder why people believe in house hippos…

    As for the foei gras, while I am not that enthusiastic about eating it (prefer other forms of prepared fat like cracklings or bacon), it is a matter of choice. As long as it does not create harm in the grand picture of things (like over fishing certain species of fish), why bother with these issues?

    Good you brought this up!

  5. Posted on another site, a reader who prefers anonymity:

    “i just hate it when people start to quantify things in a deceptive way to get their point across. i wish i did have an opinion on the foie-gras debate (but i don’t)…the only thing i took out of the obviously very slanted open letter/blogpost was that comparing anything to annual traffic fatalities seems tantamount to bringing up hitler and the nazis in a debate.

    case and point: the .04 ounces of foie gras per person each year in america works out to about 760,000 lbs of foie gras (or 345,000 kg) and at 50$/lb, it’s not an inconsequential number. also comparing the quantity of bison comsumed with the amount of duck/goose livers don’t seem reasonable either. random: from wikipedia, quebec produces 60% of the amount of all of us producers – which talks about the popularity of foie gras in a province with 2.5% of the population of america. that equates to approximately 30x the amount per/person compared to usa-land. go frenchies go!

    but foodosopher: thanks for opening the debate/discussion overall not only of foie gras, but the ideas of personal choice and their consequences. as i love to say – you made your bed, now you have to sleep in it. (hopefully surrounded by fatty water-fowl liver goodness)”

    Just thought it highlighted some of the deficiencies in the article well. Though my rebuttal was what i took out of that was if you are going to impose your own personal choice or moral standards onto someone else, do it on an issue that truly impacts the greater good.

    Anyway, good thoughts, anonymous!

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