Foie Gras: Making Informed Choices

04 Dec 2009, Posted by Jennifer Iannolo in farm, news & buzz

foie-platThis past February, an article came out in the Village Voice about foie gras (Is Foie Gras Torture?), and whether or not ducks are being tortured to produce this delicacy. The debate has raged on for years, which sparked my initial rant in The Duck Stops Here. What I think author Sarah DiGregorio brings to light with this piece, however, is something that applies universally to food, and in my opinion, is a method we should all use: Know where your food comes from. Know how it’s produced. One of the leading doctors raging against the foie gras machine has never actually set foot on a foie gras farm; she simply perpetuates the propaganda from assumptions.

If you’ve ever watched a PETA video, of course the images are disturbing. That’s their purpose. PETA is going to sensationalize whatever they find in order to make a good video, because they have a very specific intent: They want you to stop eating animals altogether. And that is their prerogative, but when they are harassing members of the public (and their children!) they become their own terrorist force. Bricks have been thrown into restaurant windows, and patrons have been harassed on their way in the door. And you all know about the pies that get thrown. Are they following the equation that two wrongs make a right? How is that going to help, exactly?

I’ve met many artisanal farmers over the years, and to a person they care passionately about their work, their livestock, and for raising them in a humane way. In the end, it makes the food taste better. A stressed out cow or duck is going to have some very tough meat for you to chew, so it is in the farmer’s best interest to keep his livestock calm and happy.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras seems no different. I’ve talked to Marcus Henley, the farm’s manager, numerous times over the past few years, and he has invited me to come see for myself. I haven’t yet had the time to do so, but I will get there, because I want to know where all my food comes from. I’ve done the same with heirloom tomatoes, cows and pigs. I invite you to do the same.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Photo: Kelly Cline