One food that I was excited (yes, I said excited) to see in St. Martin was foie gras. Foie gras has gotten a lot of bad press over the years because several special interest groups have decided to target this tiny cottage industry over a lack of understanding the anatomy and feeding habits of geese in the wild as well as the desire to feel powerful and self-righteous in shutting down a few mom and pop operations while battery farms and experiments on children run rampant. It’s a matter of focusing on what one feels is right or wrong, which always leads to pain and suffering for the one casting stones. It’s a shame.
The reason why people say they are so opposed to the practice of eating or raising foie gras is because it involves a process called gavage or force-feeding a goose or duck to fatten its liver. What is not understood is that these animals “force feed” themselves in nature! In fact, anyone who has seen the gavage performed will notice that the geese clamor around the farmer, knocking one another over, to get to the good stuff! The lies about geese being nailed to the ground are the fabrication of people who have never been anywhere near a real foie gras farm.
Another concern is that the animal is choking during the process. Remember, we are talking about geese here, not humans, cats, dogs or any other mammal. Geese do not breathe and eat from the same opening. The tube leading to the stomach is much larger than and next to the pulmonary opening.
I have visited many of these farms in Quebec and I can tell you that geese raised for foie gras are the healthiest, cleanest and most respected farm animals I have ever seen. They have tons of space to roam on grass and get plenty of sun — unlike their factory, organic or cage-free chicken cousins. When the gavage happens, it is very quick and happens in the blink of an eye (literally), so there is no lengthy process involved.
And what about the health repercussions? I have never seen an obese foie gras producer. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but they seem to live to an old age, without the signs of advanced aging I notice in the average yogini, and they tend to be very lean. Makes ya think.
The final point I’d like to raise is that there are approximately only 100,000 geese and ducks raised for foie gras every year. Meanwhile, there are over 9 BILLION chickens raised in horrifying conditions such as being boxed in tiny crates, engineered so their legs would break if they walk, de-clawing, de-beaking etc. Yet, many people who are trying to get legislation passed to shut down these small farms would gladly go to the local diner, restaurant or even places like Whole Foods and purchase conventionally raised or so-called cage-free chicken and eggs and not think twice about their decision. (Cage free only means that the animal is still locked in a filthy barn, but just not in a cage) So before we point fingers at one another and try to claim dietary superiority to one another, we must know all of the background and make rational decisions that do not involve our egos.
So even though French people in France are starting to give into irrational, misguided pressure from fanatical groups, it was a real pleasure to see people on St. Martin buying all forms of duck and goose — including foie gras. I just hope they don’t lose their culture and tradition as so many have in the name of self-righteousness.