There is an interesting article in The Village Voice on foie gras: in nutshell, animal rights activists told the author if she visited the Hudson Valley farm, she would find all kinds of terrible things, they wouldn’t let her visit certain areas, etc. The opposite turned out to be true. If you’ve been concerned about the ethics of eating foie gras, this is an excellent article.
Why are activists so devoted to this issue? Most of the organizations against foie gras also advocate vegetarianism or veganism. If you generally oppose the manipulation of animals for food, you’re going to oppose foie gras all the more, because the production does manipulate the animal more than usual. Manipulation does not necessarily equal abuse, though. But it’s manipulation of a different sort that is at work in the videos I watched before my Hudson Valley visit. Those images are not representative of the reality at the nation’s largest foie gras farm.
The fact that foie gras is delicious is nice, but it is also besides the point. If hanging puppies by their ears and cutting off their paws produced the most fantastic meat imaginable, I wouldn’t eat it and neither would you. Just because we eat animals doesn’t mean that we don’t draw lines about the welfare of the animals we’re going to eat. I support humanely raised (not penned) veal, and I buy cage-free eggs. I don’t think it’s OK to cut the fin off a shark and throw it back into the water. Personally, I would avoid foie gras from the producers in France and Canada that use individual cages. The fact that some industrial farms elsewhere are making foie gras in inhumane ways doesn’t mean that all foie gras production is inhumane. You can buy humanely raised chicken, or you can buy chicken that’s had a nasty, brutal life. The same goes for foie gras.
If I had seen with my own eyes that Hudson Valley produced foie gras by abusing ducks, this article would have turned out very differently. But that just wasn’t the case.
I’ve never understood why people are so concerned about foie when a regular slaughterhouse is so much worse. I love animals as much as most people, but the animal rights people are alienating folks by going after the easy boutique targets, rather than deal with the big ones all around us.