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April 7, 2009

What's Bad for the Goose
I don't have much to add to the debate going on at La Vida Locavore over foie gras. Jill Richardson kicked things off by speculating on the possibility of "humane" foie gras, which is made by force-feeding geese.

Another diarist, who writes under the name Asinus Asinum Fricat, squashed that speculation like a bug:
Imagine this: someone grabs you by the throat, pries open your mouth wide, inserts a 10 inch lead pipe (or plastic, doesn't matter, same pain level) deep into your gullet, scarring your esophagus in the process, a button is pressed and one whole kilogram of pap made with corn boiled with fat (to facilitate ingestion) is mechanically delivered into your stomach! That's life for unlucky geese or ducks, done at least three times a day, quite often five or six times. The liver grows up to ten times its normal size in a matter of weeks.
Force-feeding begins when the ducks or geese are just three months old. For nearly a month large deposits of fat in the liver are made, thereby producing the buttery consistency sought by the producers.
Oh, and he also points out that the stuff might give you Alzheimer's to boot.

I think perhaps there comes a time when we can look at a particular food-related practice and declare that its moment has passed. And gavage -- as the force-feeding technique is called (and which dates back to ancient Egypt if not before) -- definitely qualifies. I have eaten foie gras several times in my life. But it's certainly something I can live without. And so, I'm quite sure, can the geese.

Photo by Jim Linwood used under a CC license

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