I absolutely love foie gras, and was kind of aware that the ducks are force fed to produce such a large liver, but have only recently thought more about this and looked it up (mostly cuz I found some at a local market!).
The conditions are horrifying (read about caged ducks who can't even move much/bloody and inflamed rears/bloated legs/bleeding to death from the tube punctures), etc etc. And then something about increased amyloid fibrils from eating it? That is scary, but it makes sense since this would be super diseased-liver--one that is 10x a normal one apparently.
If we try not to eat liver from CAFO animals, why would foie gras be ok? From this viewpoint it would be the absolute worse thing to eat coming from essentially obese, nonactive ducks with liver and other chronic diseases.
Baah, I am sad now. I don't think I can eat any more of this happily :(
Gordon Ramsay's "F Word" talked about ethical veal a season or two ago -- the calves were not confined, were happy, well-cared-for, and tasted awesome.
One basic fact of the dairy industry is that you're going to have surplus males; you mostly need cows for dairy production. So what do you do with the male calves you don't need? Veal is the logical result. But veal calves can be treated humanely; they don't have to suffer. If we, as consumers, insist on that we can make a difference.
Ethical foie gras in Spain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5c4TXfDHZY&NR=1
foie gras is absolutely NOT ok from a humane animal treatment standpoint. i know its so delicious, but i personally wont eat it for the reasons you mentioned. there is other liver pate that is delicious, too and much more humane!
Foie gras is delicious. A close approximate is to simmer the liver of an ordinary duck or goose, chop finely, add an equal amount of butter and purée in a food processor. Duck isn't a very meaty bird but after you render all the fat and make faux foie gras you have a pretty good offset on the cost of the maigrets and leg quarters.
Fowl livers are not diseased merely by being fatty. The primary fat stores for birds reside in the liver and not subcutaneously like they do in mammals. Birds naturally gorge and fatten their livers up prior to migration, so that they have the ability to fly long distances.
Many years ago, I decided to refuse to eat veal (whose flesh is tender and white because it's never allowed to move and spends its entire life standing still in its own filth) or fois gras because of the cruel and filthy conditions under which they are forced to live.
Humans die from fatty liver, so the idea of eating something that unhealthy is just kind of awful.
From a paleo standpoint, that kind of unnatural upbringing doesn't fit, either.
Yah it can be a pretty brutal process.
I was at an expensive Restaurant in San Diego called Lone Star Texas (or something like that) with a big group of co-workers and the waiter was explaining the 'specialty' of the night >> Fois Gras. This girl that was in our group was like "OMG! I know what that is... Isn't that where they... " and went off on basically a lot of the stuff you just mentioned, talking about choking the ducks and the ducks barfing up blood and everything. She even tilted her head back and wrenched her neck for effect. She tore that dude to pieces. Needless to say.. NOBODY was interested in Fois Gras. He didn't even know what to say. Pwned.
At first I was like... "Um... yah I'll have that, please." to break the awkwardness. Everyone laughed so I felt pretty cool for a second. I ended up getting delicious seared scallops.
I've seen a few things re ethical foie gras -- if you can find that in your local market, it might not be so bad.
Google "ethical foie gras" and see if the techniques used make you feel any better.
Saying all foie gras is produced inhumanely is like saying like beef is produced inhumanely. There are good and bad farms. If you want to see a tour of a good one, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABeWlY0KFv8
You can also get foie gras-like naturally if you are willing to hunt since waterfowl naturally gorge themselves http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2010/11/ethical-foie-gras-no-force-feeding-necessary/66261/
As for the amyloid issue, my understanding is that was done in lab conditions feeding animals absurd amounts. I eat foie gras maybe once a year.
That said, I don't see what this has to do with paleo and I'm closing it. Take it to another discussion forum.
1- There is ZERO evidence that Foie Gras has any healthful benefit over and above that of Pate of liver from a non-forced-fed Duck. 2- Therefore, the ONLY reason why these ducks are force-fed is for human PLEASURE, human CURIOSITY and/or human EGO. Again, the act of force-feeding does not to confer any health benefit to the eater. 3-Passively-fed, farmed/domestic ducks do not gorge themselves and thus do not attain such a fatty livers of their own accord. 4-The force-feeding is a 'non-genetically-congruent' brand of farming in that it results in fatty-liver disease in the animal. The animal is resisting the entire time and the animal will not stay at the gavage tube on its own unless it is held there or forced to stay there. 5-Wild, migrating birds do not self-fatten their livers anywhere near the extreme of the forced-feeding-gavage, but as Melissa points out in her link, there are some rare exceptions where a wild bird has a substantially-fattened liver. But these are rare exceptions and not the rule.
To me, being healthy is not about what I find pleasurable or tasty. If one wants to see PETA gain more political power and leverage, then go ahead and continue enjoying Foie Gras.
Finally, as Joel Salatin would likely ask: Are we letting the duck "express its duckiness" when gavaging the animal? I do not think so.
Foie Gras= 2500 year old Epic Fail!
Edit: Thought I would add this video. Watch the whole thing though! Very insightful, I promise. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html The chef/speaker makes an amazing case against conventional foie gras. I've long pondered how something like foie gras got invented. Now I have my answer.
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