Readers who follow my work know I consistently strive to promote foods specifically to those who are eaters for health
. I don't shy away from any specific foods unless they are consistently proven to either be harmful for health or abusive to life itself. Although that invariably comes down to perception, Foie Gras ("fatty liver") is one of those foods I refuse to acknowledge as consumable.
The production of this "delicacy" is simply animal torture. It requires geese or ducks to be forced fed until their livers become fatty. Despite 15 countries banning its production, Canada and the United States refuse to join those nations in banning this atrocity to animals.
Video from foie gras operations shows animals with bloody throats, struggling to hold their heads up and breathe.Each worker is expected to force-feed 500 birds many tiimes per a day. Many ducks die when their stomachs burst from overfeeding. The workers, who killed fewer than 50 of "their" 500, receive bonuses.
The workers enter the pen in a factory-farm building, where ducks are imprisoned, grab the ducks one at a time, hold them down, forcibly open their bill, shove a long pipe down their throat all the way to their stomach and then shove about 1.5 pounds of corn mixture into each duck's digestive system. The ducks, know what is coming... they struggle to get as far away from the human as possible. Both ducks and geese, endure this painful and distressing procedure at least 4 times a day for about 4 weeks.
They are then slaughtered and their swollen and diseased livers are peddled as a "gourmet" delicacy known as foie gras - the French term for "fatty liver".
Below is an image showing the differences between a normal sized liver (right) a swollen liver which can be up to 10 to 12 times the normal size.
© Prevent Disease.com
The force feeding causes severe injuries including bruising and tearing of the neck. Their increasing weight causes blisters as their breasts rub on the cage floor.
Sometimes the aggressive shoving of the pipe raptures their throat. Some of them die from bursting internal organs. Ducks and geese live in terror of these force-feeding horrors.
Animal rights and welfare activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United Statesand the Animal Legal Defense Fund contend that foie gras production methods, and force feeding in particular, consist of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
The audacity of foie gras producers is their claim that they do not consider their methods cruel, insisting that it is a natural process exploiting the animals' natural features. Producers argue that wild ducks and geese naturally ingest large amounts of whole food and gain weight before migration. They also claim that geese and ducks do not have a gag reflex in their throats the same way that humans do, and therefore do not appear to find force feeding uncomfortable. Anti-intellectual??? Perhaps.
Foie gras is so inhumane that in 2004 California passed a law (effective in 2012) banning the sale and production of foie gras effective in 2012. Force-feeding has also been outlawed in the U.K., Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and Israel.
The entire Canadian foie gras industry is located in Quebec. Three producers -- Elevages Perigord, Aux Champs Delise and Palmex -- account for the majority of production, but there are several other small producers in the Province.
Quebec has been producing foie gras for only 12 years. But in that time production has increased to 8500 livers per week, for a total output of 2 tons. Today, about 500,000 ducks are killed each year in Quebec's foie gras industry. According to Quebec foie gras producers, they export about 30% of their products to the United States, 10% to the rest of Canada and the remainder is consumed within Quebec.
Farm Sanctuary and Global Action Network have just released new video footage taken by an undercover investigator of two more foie gras factory farms in Canada taken by an undercover investigator. In addition to the footage taken at Elevages Perigord released in July of this year, this new footage documents farm employees taking part in cruel or torturous acts on animals, in addition to the inherently cruel forced feeding that the animals endure daily. Combined these three foie gras factories make up 82% of the foie gras sold in Canada and 72% of the foie gras that is imported into the US. The photo and video evidence documenting these inhumane acts has been submitted to Canadian authorities - but your help is needed to push for prosecution and reform.
to view the full alert and to take action.
As whole nations, Canada and the United States refuse to unify and ban this atrocity to birds and geese.
Other International responses include:
- In 2006, Chicago banned the sale of foie gras.
- In 2002, Pope Benedict XVI denounced force-feeding of geese as being in violation of Biblical principles.
- In the past decade, a large number of nations have banned foie gras production, including Israel, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, and Poland.
- Other countries whose laws effectively ban the force feeding of animals for foie gras production include Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
- Foie gras production is illegal in Argentina as a mistreatment or act of cruelty to animals.
- In August 2003, the Supreme Court of Israel ordered the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture to ban the force feeding of geese, effective 31 March 2005.
This shameful practice must end. How are we ever to succeed in treating our own species with kindness and love if we cannot hold the same value systems towards other living things. If you are a Canadian or an American, send letters, emails or speak with your local and federal representatives to end the cruelty towards these animals once and for all.
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.