vegansaurus!

01/20/2012

Foie gras is cruel, even if you think it tastes good.   »


Scary video, very well made. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, just check out the stats in the beginning. This is not a rare occurrence, this is where the majority of foie gras comes from in the U.S.

A reader alerted us to this post on Etsy gushing over foie gras and complaining about any measures to stop it. It’s just a sickening, confused bit of writing that attempts to justify and rationalize cruelty by identifying that there are other cruelties in the world. I know my response is long but there are so many terrible points to contend. Plus foie gras is just so disturbing, when people make light of it, we should give it the attention it deserves. Let’s jump in, shall we?

It may not be a taste for every palate, but I’m a staunch fan of this controversial delicacy, particularly when it arrives as a generously sliced, perfectly pan-seared portion, topped with nothing more than a dusting of fleur de sel. Needless to say, I’m more than a little flustered at California’s pending law forbidding the production and sale of foie gras, which takes effect this July.

She lands on the pro side of the foie gras controversy because it tastes good? Is that how we make decisions? Is that what we base our values on? I have to assume people just don’t realize how very vapid the “it tastes good” argument is. We’re talking about cruelty, morals, and values and they come back with their sensory response? It’s absurdly superficial and amoral.

The proponents of the law argue that foie gras needs to be banned because the “gavage,” or force-feeding of geese and ducks as a method of production, is “inhumane.” While I do not doubt the existence of farms that provide less than ideal conditions for their ducks and geese, I’m puzzled as to why this food item, with more than 45 centuries of history and tradition, is being singled out when other more “inhumane” food choices exist.

She’s acting like we’re discussing genocide or something. Singling out foie gras? It’s not the funny-looking kid that always gets picked on at recess, it’s an abhorrent practice that results in a ridiculously unnecessary food product.

Let’s consider the ubiquitous hamburger, that quarter-pound of ground beef made from factory-farmed cows. We are, by now, familiar with the contamination risks inherent in the production of factory-farmed meat. Yet there’s a conspicuous absence of voices to ban this product.

What does contamination risk have to do with inhumane practices? I know the inhumane conditions can lead to tainted meat, but I thought we were talking about actual suffering, not sanitation. Additionally, I’m here! Let’s ban it!

Considering its affordability (when compared with pasture-raised, grass-fed beef) and availability in grocery stores across the country, one would think that subjecting the American population to the constant threat of bacterial contamination is more inhumane than seeking to ban the production of a luxury food item like foie gras. And we haven’t even started to discuss the cramped living conditions of the poor cows destined to live in their own manure for the length of their sad, sorry lives.

Exposing people to bacteria is inhumane? Let’s get a definition: “Without compassion for misery or suffering; cruel.” Come on, get some perspective. But again, let’s not subsidize factory farms, I’m down with that! And how about we DON’T torture cows! It’s just such an odd viewpoint. She states how hamburgers come from disease and cruelty so the conclusion she draws is that we should continue to eat foie gras? I never get that rationale. She’s using shitty conditions for one kind of animal to justify continuing shitty treatment of another? Just because there’s a variety of bad stuff, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop doing something bad.

Don’t eat meat? Well then, let’s take a look at where our fish comes from. Half of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is farmed, and that practice (aquaculture) is growing quickly to keep up with demand, with attendant consequences on the ocean’s health. Aquaculture has been found to rapidly deplete populations of wild fish in order to produce a pound of tuna or salmon and pollute ocean waters with fish waste, which has long-term environmental consequences for the world we live in. And yet there isn’t a peep to be heard about banning farmed salmon or tuna — or banning the practice of aquaculture altogether.

DUDE. First of all, what are you talking about? There is many a peep about this. This cool site “google” can help you learn more about it. Also, ask us! But really, that statement “Don’t eat meat? What about fish” is so bizarre too me. If a fish isn’t meat, what the fuck is it? It’s not a vegetable. It’s made out of dead animal. It’s not meat?

While it’s certainly important to pay attention to the welfare of animals that we depend on for food, there’s also a point where we need to recognize that an animal’s physiology renders it capable of certain physical conditions that would appear “inhumane” to the human experience.

OH MY GOD WATCH THE VIDEOS! Denying it’s inhumane is just blatant denial of reality.

Let me qualify that the notion of force-feeding an animal for food doesn’t sit comfortably with my foodie conscience. However, I’m also aware that part of that discomfort is a result of anthropomorphizing animals reared for consumption. The European Union’s Scientific Committee report about the welfare of ducks and geese involved in foie gras production found a lack of conclusive evidence on the aversive nature of force-feeding and its injurious effects. Wild waterfowl have also been found to produce foie gras after a feeding spree before the winter months. In fact, Eduardo Sousa produces “natural foie gras using this method.

Is this article called “For the Love of Eduardo Sousa Foie Gras?” It’s not, is it. To be clear, I’ve heard of this dude and his story and I definitely prefer it to regular foie gras. Also to be clear, I still think it sucks anyway. Putting that aside, this post has nothing to do with this alternative foie gras. It’s about all foie gras, including the 99.99 percent of foie gras that Eduardo Sousa doesn’t produce.

Additionally, you guys read the study and tell me if you come to the same conclusion as she did. Here’s an excerpt from the study:

Birds, including ducks and geese, have a wide range of pain receptors and an elaborate pain recognition system. Most injuries caused by tissue damage during handling or tube insertion would result in pain. The oropharyngeal area is particularly sensitive and is physiologically adapted to perform a gag reflex in order to prevent fluids entering the trachea. Force feeding will have to overcome this reflex and hence the birds may initially find this distressing and injury may result. The beak of a duck is richly innervated and the insertion of a ring through the beak would cause pain during the operation and might cause neuroma formation, and hence prolonged pain, thereafter. Similarly, most injuries to the feet caused by inadequate flooring would be painful.

That doesn’t sound inconclusive. It actually sounds very painful. If you don’t feel like reading the whole study, just search for “pain” and tell me force-feeding doesn’t cause pain or injury. Back to the post:

What’s far more inhumane, in my view, is allowing easy access to food that’s produced and consumed in ways that have proven track records of destroying the environment and our health. Where are the bans on soda, high-fructose corn syrup, and factory-farmed animals? Why is it, despite everything we know today, that these food items still tend to be the cheapest, most affordable and accessible food items for those with limited budgets?

Whaaaat is she talking about? All kinds of people oppose soda, high-fructose corn syrup, and factory-farmed animals. And I thought we were talking about being inhumane to geese and now suddenly we’re talking about being inhumane to people again? And making shitty food affordable is a whole different kind of cruelty than shoving a metal pipe down an animal’s throat. Let’s be real.

The optimists out there may say that I’m over-reacting, and I certainly hope I am. Viewed from an alternate perspective, one could consider this ban as a significant step in the fight against Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The idealist in me hopes that this is the case, because when you start to discuss livestock production in “humane/inhumane” terms, no real progress can be made until you talk about the elephant in the room: factory-farmed meat. Banning an expensive specialty food item isn’t going to advance animal welfare, so long as the majority of the population continues to consume (whether by choice or necessity) products that are bad for their health and the environment.

Again, just because factory farming is awful, that in no way means we shouldn’t ban another cruel practice. And of course Vegansaurus readers know that we speak out against factory farming all the time, and we’re certainly not the only ones. So one more time with feeling: join us in reality! Foie gras is a cruel “delicacy” that needs to go.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Tumblr » powered Sid05 » templated