Perhaps the perspective comes from being a part of a different culture. I'm sure the images posted on websites like Peta.org do not help the situation. Here's what I learned about foie gras after visiting the South West Farms in France and why I think everyone should try it at least once.
Is it unethical to eat foie gras?
Here's what people aren't considering – while it may seem to be unethical to Americans. It is not unethical for the French, and France is where foie gras is widely consumed.
After visiting France and seeing farms in the South West, my viewpoint has changed. This change is based on visiting smaller family-owned farmers. Here they often allow the chickens, ducks, and geese to roam free to avoid stress.
While I'm still on the fence about the final 2-3 weeks in which these birds are force-fed cornmeal, I am at ease knowing the majority of their life is spent in the open.
What does foie gras taste like? What foods can it be compared to?
Foie gras – also known as fatty liver – has a creamy texture that is beyond words. The first time I tried this food in France, I was taken aback by its taste.
Imagine a very light version of a meat spread, but even better. The flavor can be described as meat that has the consistency of butter. It’s incredibly indulgent and melts in your mouth.
You can find foie gras in multiple forms like mousse, parfait, and paté. This delicious food item can be served hot (roasted/cooked) or cold. I love that you can even make recipes with it, such as ice cream or hot chocolate with milk/heavy cream.
When is foie gras eaten?
Foie gras is a food item that has been eaten in France for many years. Initially, it was served during winter holidays like Christmas and New Year's Eve.
This timing was due to the available fowl at the end of the year, plus the hearty amounts of corn left from the fall time.
Currently, foie gras is eaten more often and regularly. It is typically served as an appetizer, snack, or alongside an entrée. Usually, toast, soft brioche, or similar foods come with this yummy dish.
Why is foie gras such a popular food in France?
A few factors immediately come to mind when considering this question. For one, the taste of foie gras is unrivaled. If you can find another dish that imitates the buttery-ness without feeling heavy, let us know.
Another factor is, of course, tradition. This is a food that has been eaten for years and years. The tradition has been passed down through generations changing from a holiday fare to a weekly dish.
As we know, it's challenging to break traditions, especially those continued by family.
Is France doing anything about the gavage (stuffing) process to help with the quality of life for the ducks?
Some multiple farmers and companies are working towards more ethical foie gras production. Eduardo Sousa and Diego Labourdette started to harvest specific geese that touch down in the area and are known for naturally overstuffing themselves with olives and acorns. The gavage process is avoided as the geese are already eating a surplus of food.
There’s even a company named Aviwell that began testing a serum in 2019 that promotes more fat produced in the liver in geese. This also allows the company to avoid stuffing the geese.
With the advancements made towards the more ethical production of foie gras, I am hopeful this delicacy will be more widely available and accepted.