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Ethical (Seasonal) Foie Gras

 
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For as long as I can remember, I've been opposed to foie gras on principle. Despite my foodie nature and the culinary fanfare the dish receives, I couldn't reconcile the ethical quandary of force feeding an animal a diet that was outside of its norm and in the manner I'd witnessed. Now before anyone begins to ruffle their feathers (sorry for the pun) regarding their views one way or the other, this isn't a post about discussing the traditional methods. No matter what side of the fence you stand on, it isn't what I want to ask.

The path of thought I am following was instead started when I was watching a recent Farmstead Meatsmith video. I found myself severely interested in learning if there was anyone else out there doing the sort of seasonal and ethical Foie Gras that Eduardo Sousa does. This aligns perfectly with my values and still allows me access to foie gras. I already favor seasonal eating and the methods are as respectful to the animal as any I could imagine.

I dug around where I could. I watched the Dan Barber Ted talk. I read a number of articles, though only one offered any specifics on the plants growing there beyond figs and olives. I'm thirsty for more knowledge on the subject. Permies is a big place with people around the world. Surely at least one other person on here is already doing something similar and could lend insights on how to establish such a system for one's self. At least that's my hope. So, do you have any information to add or knowledge to lend? How does one set up a seasonal foie gras production where the animals are expressing their natures in the purest ways possible?

For Reference:
Farmstead Meatsmith


An NPR Article on the subject
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/01/487088946/this-spanish-farm-makes-foie-gras-without-force-feeding

Eduardo Sousa via Dan Barber Ted Talk
 
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Very cool.

I have no info to add beyond noting the mention of acorns in the linked articles.. and the fact that there.is mention of regional variation in foie gras flavour due to diet differences suggests that it is perhaps less specifics of diet, than the massive amount of calories available in a short period?

Perhaps a relatively sparse diet before the time of plenty is also needed/good...


The fact that this 1200 acre farm is butchering 1600 geese per year is.. well, on the one hand I applaud the sustainability aspect, and the ethical aspect, and this goose meat is probably both much tastier and much healthier than the competition!

On the other hand that is an enormous farm for 1600 geese to be a primary enterprise; the economics seem... challenging, at first glance! Perhaps that is why similar examples are sparse?
 
D. Logan
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Very cool.

I have no info to add beyond noting the mention of acorns in the linked articles.. and the fact that there.is mention of regional variation in foie gras flavour due to diet differences suggests that it is perhaps less specifics of diet, than the massive amount of calories available in a short period?

Perhaps a relatively sparse diet before the time of plenty is also needed/good...


The fact that this 1200 acre farm is butchering 1600 geese per year is.. well, on the one hand I applaud the sustainability aspect, and the ethical aspect, and this goose meat is probably both much tastier and much healthier than the competition!

On the other hand that is an enormous farm for 1600 geese to be a primary enterprise; the economics seem... challenging, at first glance! Perhaps that is why similar examples are sparse?



That's true about the acorns. I forgot those. I managed to find the name of the plant that causes the yellow tone mentioned as well. Apparently that is Yellow Bush Lupine. As to the space being an inhibitor, I'm fairly certain that is why it is so rare. The people most likely to be doing it are those who stack functions and apply polyculture methods to their land use. It's a big part of why I figured if anyone would know more, they are probably on this site somewhere.

With only one example, it is a lot harder to work out a more general strategy. Calorie density, mineral rich plants, etc. Assuming I don't find anyone else who's managed to do something similar, it may come down to watching wild geese in detail and using those observations to develop a system on my own future property based on the concept combined with what I learn.
 
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This article has been making the (foodie world) rounds again, I think since Kenji Lopez-Alt has recently started writing for the NYT food columns this was referenced maybe last week. I hadn`t read this and I quite honestly don't know what to think about it. (it does not have nearly as much a permie slant as the wild geese and acorns guy, who I've also read-- it's more industrial, but I think you might find it interesting) I think he's unrealistic to use the gold standard as his reason for something to be green-lighted or not (after all, very few people can buy from these two ethical producers) but I suppose that's my issue. In the end, I would much rather eat nearly anything else than foie gras, even if it grew on a tree. https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/12/the-physiology-of-foie-why-foie-gras-is-not-u.html
 
D Nikolls
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Tereza Okava wrote:This article has been making the (foodie world) rounds again, I think since Kenji Lopez-Alt has recently started writing for the NYT food columns this was referenced maybe last week. I hadn`t read this and I quite honestly don't know what to think about it. (it does not have nearly as much a permie slant as the wild geese and acorns guy, who I've also read-- it's more industrial, but I think you might find it interesting) I think he's unrealistic to use the gold standard as his reason for something to be green-lighted or not (after all, very few people can buy from these two ethical producers) but I suppose that's my issue. In the end, I would much rather eat nearly anything else than foie gras, even if it grew on a tree. https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/12/the-physiology-of-foie-why-foie-gras-is-not-u.html



Hm. Some interesting parts in there for sure.

I am not sure why they even need to force feed in those amounts, I would have thought the ducks would eat that much if unlimited tasty food was at hand.... hence the adaptations that allow them to do so, and also the success of the wild-goose/acorns option...?
 
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