Feb 10, 2015

Is foie gras really so bad?

Australians are opposed to force-feeding ducks and geese for foie gras, but we happily chow down on chickens and cows raised equally inhumanely. Is it time to rethink the controversial dish? Mat Drogemuller explains.

Foie gras is on the lips of every French man and woman in La Roche-sur-Yon right now, where a private prosecution is underway. Brought to the French court by animal advocate group L214, the case could fine foie gras farmer Ernest Soulard up to 30,000 euros for cruelty to animals.


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14 thoughts on “Is foie gras really so bad?

  1. Norman Hanscombe

    On this issue, as with many events in the lives of homo sapiens, our species tends to believe rather than analyse. Little wonder that with so may far more complex controversies around, even affluent reasonably intelligent people such as Crikey subscribers, psychological defences such as cognitive dissonance enable us to not see the enormously important woods for the delightfully supportive trees we worship.

  2. drovers cat

    When are we going to realise the world’s human population is the cause of all this? It can’t go on, if we are to retain any shred of our humanity.
    And foie gras eaters? Go foie yourselves

  3. Footbum

    Fois Gras, true Veal and cage-raised eggs are out of favour with aussies because we see that producing these so-called delicacies deprives the animal any chance of a leading a natural existence.

    Backyard chooks are making a massive comeback because of the pleasure gained from rearing your own flock, and having the chooks contribute to the garden with their droppings and pest management. They can stay as valuable and useful members of the family for years beyond their egg-laying age, and those that are happy to do so can turn them into a roast. Compared to battery hens that are discarded after 18 months of life just because their egg-laying rate drops by 20%.

    Modern practices in large-scale slaughter factories barely make the grade when it comes to treating animals with respect. It’s been known for many years that less intensive slaughter results in a far superior end product. Farmers Markets rapidly growing in popularity, where you see true “paddock to plate” supply chain by small independent operators who rear, grow and slaughter using best practice methods and follow organic principles.

    The marketing practices of Coles and Woolies that drives price with no regard to production values is starting to fall out of favour.

    People are starting to wake up and take more interest in where their food comes from and the journey it took to get to our homes.

    And that’s a good thing I think!

  4. Bob the builder

    The author makes this out as an argument that foie gras and veal is alright.

    It’s an argument that battery chooks and industrial meat production in general are also terrible.

    It’s an argument that battery and industrial meat (and egg) production should be outlawed, not that cruel practices like those needed for foie gras are acceptable.

    I have my own happy backyard chooks that give me eggs – and, when I slaughter and butcher them myself, meat. But I never eat industrial chooks and strongly believe those methods should be banned on both ethical and health grounds.

  5. Richard

    Bob is right. This is a very strange article. Pointing out the hypocrisy of meat eaters who oppose foie gras is valid, but the existence of factory hens doesn’t make foie gras or veal ok. Cruelty to animals is terrible in all of its forms and we can do better.

  6. mikeb

    Is the world a better place for the availability of foie gras and veal? I’d suggest not. That being the case why subject the animal to discomfort in the first place? I have no problems with eating chooks or cows or geese or any other animal, but i want them to be as comfortable in their lives as possible. I have eaten veal & it’s bland without good preparation. Foix gras has eluded me, but I haven’t missed it either. Just scrap them both and be done with it.


    You must be joking. We are cruel to other animals, so foie gras is OK. What sort of thinking is this? How about, some journalists are jailed, so putting others before a court is OK? Untenable, my friend. Tempted to say ‘foie off’, but that would be rude.

  8. Luke Hellboy

    Part of the problem is that sustainable farming practices are unsustainable if billions of the worlds poorest people want to eat anywhere near the level of meat that Australians, Europeans and North Americans enjoy. We don’t have the space, water or environmental breathing room (land clearing, effluent, methane, hormones going back into natural systems, ect) to scale up production.
    Who’s going to ask first world countries to reduce their consumption, let alone make them? Who’s going to tell the rest of the world they can’t?
    There are companies growing ‘meat’ in labs but at around $250 000/kg at the moment an unrealistic replacement in the short term. Other companies are looking into using insects as a protein source and with the right marketing and packaging may be more feasible but will find it hard outdo the gastronomic appeal of a steak or chop. Overfishing is also a big problem, though new research using bacteria to deal with the environmental damage of large scale aquaculture is showing results.

    Any person who enjoys regularly eating meat or fish in almost every meal (myself included though cutting down) has no pedestal on which to cast judgment on cruelty to animals or environmental damage. Where’s soylent green when you need it?

  9. burnmuthaburn

    humans are c&^ts.

    i am ashamed to be one.

    i wish i had something more positive to contribute………..

  10. Bob the builder

    @ Luke

    The problem with unsustainable practices is that they are unsustainable. It’s not just a word, it has an actual meaning, which in this case is that whether or not the ‘world’s poorest people’ want to eat as much meat as we do, it’s not possible without further degrading our environment to the point that it won’t be able to produce much at all, whether sustainably or ‘unsustainably’.

    Though the whole argument is a category error, because backyard food production and small scale farming can produce far more animal and plant food, far more sustainably, per square metre, than big monocultures – but those systems don’t make much money for multinationals.

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