Foie Gras
The controversial dish foie gras causes a rift between food enthusiasts and animal rights activists. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Foie gras is both a decadent treat enjoyed by many and a major source of controversy between fine food lovers and animal rights activists. The controversial food is a pate made from duck livers. The ducks have to be overfed in order to get their livers to become larger than normal.

Germany and France in food row

An international spat has begun between the nations of France and Germany, according to The Guardian. The Anuga food fair in Cologne (also spelled Köln), a large city in western Germany, banned any French vendors from serving foie gras at the event. Foie gras is a pàté, or ground meat sometimes prepared with spices that is nearly soft enough to be spreadable, made from fattened goose or duck liver. A debate is ongoing between German and French ministers over possible re-admittance of foie gras to the festival, as foie gras is a staple of French cuisine.

One of the most controversial foods

Foie gras is one of the most controversial foods in the world. The method of cultivating foie gras differs between producers, but the basic idea is the same. Geese and ducks are overfed with grain, and in many cases force-fed. This is referred to as gavage, the term that is also used medically as the term for force-feeding, according to Wikipedia. As the animals eat far more than they normally would over time, their livers become fatty and swell, which creates the necessary consistency for making foie gras. Not all producers rely on force-feeding; some simply give extra food to geese or ducks, and they fatten naturally. However, this practice is often confined to smaller operations. France is the world’s largest producer and consumer of foie gras, producing 18,450 metric tons (one metric ton, 1,000 kilograms, is 2,205 pounds) and consuming 19,000 metric tons in 2005 alone.

Foie gras controversy

Many animal rights groups and activists are campaigning to have foie gras banned, and controversies ignite virtually anywhere a chef dares to put it on the menu. Recently, the Do or Dine Restaurant in New York City started offering a foie gras doughnut, according to the Village Voice, sparking online protests. Another New York restaurant, the Wall Street Burger Shoppe, was vilified several years ago for having a foie gras burger. That restaurant has filed for bankruptcy, according to Crain’s New York. Some English celebrities are currently protesting Fortnum and Mason, favorite food store of the Queen, for stocking the item, according to This Dish Vegetarian. Model Twiggy, former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore and comic Ricky Gervais are among the petitioners for the foie gras ban.


The Guardian:

Wikipedia on Foie Gras:

Village Voice:

Crain’s New York:

This Dish Vegetarian:

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