Foie gras … ban it … or love it … ?

It will be Christmas in 70 days if you add today. Some believe that one should already now start planning for it. In France planning for Christmas means to think food. And to think food means to think foie gras. Here, Christmas without foie gras is like a balloon without air in it: it’s flat […]

Unprocessed and uncooked foie gras

It will be Christmas in 70 days if you add today.

Some believe that one should already now start planning for it.

In France planning for Christmas means to think food. And to think food means to think foie gras.

Here, Christmas without foie gras is like a balloon without air in it: it’s flat flat flat.

Fittingly, those people who are against what has to be done to the goose for a serving of foie gras, are accelerating their appeals to have it banned. The State of California has already forbidden the manufacture and selling of it, and the British are thinking about it. There are even people here in France, the world’s largest producer of foie gras,  who want to see it banned, and if this fails to happen, then for people to boycott it.

Yesterday (Tuesday, October 16) five animal protection foundations took their request for the ban of what millions worldwide think of as a most delicious delicacy to Brussels, to the European Union. They want the European Commission to ban its production and sales in the E.U.

Said Yves Cochet, the E.U. member for France’s ecologist political party, or as the party is familiarly called, the ‘Green’ Party: “Foie gras can be made in another way. In Spain, for example, geese are reared in a less industrial way which respects the birds’ wellbeing.”

What he was referring to is that in Spain force feeding the geese is now forbidden. Foie gras is made by force feeding the bird with corn to fatten it up. The force feeding is done by means of passing a tube through either the mouth or the nose of the bird with the corn going straight into the stomach. The French call it gavage.

The delegation planned their presence to counter the visit of representatives of France’s foie gras producers who displayed their product. Guillaume Garot, 46, France’s Minister for the Food Industry, was there to lend his support: To the producers.

According to him he was “defending a symbol of the French way of life”.

The prepared product

The foie gras industry employs 35,000 people here in France for an annual production of 23,000 tonnes. Spain is the world’s third largest producer (850 tonnes), and Hungary with 18,450 tonnes is second.

Spanish foie gras is however frowned on by the French for not being the real McCoy because the birds are no longer force fed.

“Spanish foie gras is ersatz,” said Françoise Castex, member of the E.U. Parliament for the foie gras producing South-West France.

Apart from some members of the E.U. Parliament having a nice little foie gras snack yesterday, no definite decision about a ban or boycott was made.  Those animal protection foundations are consequently going to lodge a formal complaint with the E.U.Commission against France and Hungary.

Minister Garot will however stick to his guns and will next month visit California to defend France’s continued making of foie gras.

Laurent Fabius, France’s Foreign Minister, already last month when in New York for the opening session of the U.N., defended France’s foie gras industry by hosting a dinner in a French restaurant when foie gras was served  He has also ordered France’s Ambassador in Washington to publicly support the “development of French products”.

The gavaging of geese (of ducks too now) begin when the bird is 12 weeks old.  They are force fed wet corn through a metal feeding tube two to three times daily for a period of 14-17 days.  The tube is inserted into the throat, on occasion also into the nose, and farm hands massage the bird’s throat to force the corn down and into the stomach.  At the end of the gavage, the birds are slaughtered and the liver, grossly swollen because it is deceased, is removed to be sold as foie gras.

Foie gras translates as fat liver.

This reminds me of the Hungarian-born British movie producer Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1945),once married to the Anglo-Indian actress Merle Oberon (1911-1979), who ate it by the ‘gooseful’ and who never called it anything but goose liver.

In a way, of course, foie gras is goose liver.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

One Response to “Foie gras … ban it … or love it … ?”

  1. 1
    Helene Crozier Says:

    Your Comments

    Triste vérité … La tradition ne sera pas abandonnée de sitôt – tout comme celle des corridas dans le sud de la France – les enjeux politiques, économiques et culturels demanderaient tellement de courage à nos hommes politiques ! La considération que nous avons de nos jours pour la cause animale, le regard que nous portons de nos jours sur la qualité de notre alimentation, n’auront pas raison de ces enjeux avant des générations. Il est utile d’écrire comme vous le faites sur ces sujets. La prise de conscience passe toujours par l’information. Merci Marilyn.

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