Foie gras? Phooey, gross!
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Foie gras, also spelled "fois gras," is a fatty liver paté that is associated with French cuisine but is now also produced in the USA and other countries. To make it, geese and ducks are force-fed to enlarge and fatten their livers. Some people claim that this is a cruel practice, and they advocate banning the food.
In California there have been violent acts committed against owners of restaurants serving foie gras. Vandalism has been committed on their property. Some who fancy themselves to be environmentalists or animal-rightists defend these acts as necessary to call attention to the problem. The same thing occurs in the so-called "peace" movement, where many who do not themselves commit violence condone or approve of the violence committed in anti-war marches. I spoke with one activist who stated that the destruction of property is not really violence.
I would normally be sympathetic to animal rights. There should be laws against cruelty to animals. But when activists commit violence, it blunts and confuses their message. When they say they oppose violence to animals, but they think it is OK to do violence to human beings, people get confused. This moral confusion helped make the anti-Iraq-war movement ineffective, and will ruin the animal rights and environmental movements.
Environmentalists have been called "watermelons" for being green on the outside but red on the inside. The real agenda of some is an opposition to free markets, private property, and modern technology. They use environmentalism as a ruse to commit violence and restrict enterprise. There are free-market environmentalists who oppose violence, but they are a minority.
Violence is endangering the entire environmental movement. Eco-terrorism is becoming more prevalent. Eco-terrorist bombs destroy laboratories and screaming activists throw paint on fur coats. Most ordinary folks fear terror and support the government's war on terrorism, so when the eco-terrorists commit violence, it is counter-productive. As eco-terrorism grows, the public will become ever more disgusted with environmentalists and animal-rightists. The losers will be the animals, including the unfortunate ducks and geese who are fated to become foie gras.
Some restauranteurs claim that feeding ducks grain is not cruel. They point out that gorging is a natural process in the lives of wild ducks and geese. Some ducks come running to the feeder to get the treatment. It may be the way that it is done that matters. Still, I can't imagine that a duck or goose with a huge liver is all that happy during its fattening. Some of the birds die from overfeeding.
Foie gras is a rich man's food, selling for $75 a pound for duck and over $100 for goose. It goes way back to the ancient Egyptians, who noticed that wild geese gobbled up large amounts of food prior to their migrations, which made their livers large and tasty. They started the practice of force-feeding them to provide this delicacy to the pharaohs. The Romans copied the practice, adding figs to make the paté sweeter. The gourmet Gauls in what is now France happily adopted foie gras d'oie (goose liver). Much of its production takes place in Alsace and Perigord. In the US, much of the duck foie gras is made in Sonoma and Napa counties in northern California, where the recent fuss took place.
Rich folks in restaurants eagerly eat their foie gras without scarcely a thought about what the poor duck or goose went through. Those who heard about the protests probably also read about the vandalism, and so they may well dismiss the protestors as misguided fanatics.
Personally, I avoid foie gras, even when offered at no cost to me. But I cannot campaign against the practice, because I don't wish to be associated with the vandalism. Ultimately, if there is suffering by the ducks and geese, the eco-terrorists will be responsible, because they have made it impossible for government to ban the practice, lest they be seen as giving in to terrorism.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2003 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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