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In recent years, there has been increasing controversy surrounding foie gras production. Animal rights activists have targeted the industry partly because there are few enough producers, and the market is small enough, that significant press exposure can actually impact the industry. Activists know that the chicken or cattle industry is much less vulnerable to attack. The potential result of the efforts of activists is the prohibition of future production and sale of foie gras in specific states or the US as a whole.
We think it's a shame that after thousands of years of foie gras production and enjoyment, there is a threat of limiting the accessibility of a product in which so many find such great pleasure.
The primary objection that some people have to foie gras is the feeding method used to produce the product. The birds must be overfed in order to create the fattened liver. The liver enlarges over the course of the feeding process known as gavage. Claims have been made that the enlarged liver is "diseased". This is not true. In fact, it has been shown the liver shrinks back down to its normal size when a bird returns to lesser amounts of food intake.
Foie gras was first discovered by the ancient Egyptians when it was observed that after gorging themselves in preparation for migration, the livers of geese and ducks became fattened. Besides birds, other animals like bears overfeed themselves with the fattiest part of the salmon to sustain the harshness of cold winters.
The cattle and poultry industries in the US also recognize the overfeeding of their animals for human consumption.
We support the humane treatment of all animals, even when they are raised for human consumption. There is no evidence that the tube feeding method used to produce foie gras is inhumane. Being fed through a tube may sound unappealing to humans; however, it is important to remember that the esophagus of a duck or goose is very different from ours. In nature, these birds are accustomed to storing fish and other foods in their esophagus, sometimes for long periods of time.
The perception of foie gras as a luxury–and therefore wasteful product is another objection sometimes voiced by foie gras opponents. Contrary to what some people believe, almost every part of the moulard ducks that are raised for foie gras are used, more than any other bird raised for human consumption. The breasts, legs, wings, carcasses, tongues, feet, intestines, feathers and duck fat are all utilized.
Though we do not agree with the violent nature of the attacks on foie gras producers, restaurants that serve foie gras, and others in the industry, we fully respect those people who choose not to eat animal products. Everyone deserves the right to choose.
Please refer to this section for up-to-date information about the status of foie gras related legislation and articles on the topic. We update frequently, and hope that you will inform us if we are missing important information.
New York Farm Bureau
Articles addressing the New York Farm Bureau's fight against the banning of foie gras production in New York
Wikipedia – Free Encyclopedia
An overview of history and producers of foie gras, production methods, presentation, consumption, controversy, and additional links regarding the topic of foie gras
An article from Money Magazine written on June 11, 2004 by Gordon T. Anderson titled “Crisis in the foie gras biz, an icon of edible luxury is getting seared on all sides”
In Spring 2006, the Chicago City Council voted to ban the sale of foie gras.
Click Here to read the Animal Agriculture Alliance's response to the new law. (Letter is in PDF format)