Real beef

As opposed to the previous post, this is about real meat.

First, I got an email from one Tony McNicol, a Tokyo based photographer and journalist (he’s originally from the UK). On his site, he has several fascinating photo essays depicting some off-the-beaten-track slices of Japanese life. One of them is about Kobe beef, which is a very special (and expensive) kind of beef.

[Kobe Beef, June 2009 - Images by Tony McNicol. Used with permission.]

Kobe beef is (as Tony says) not just wagyuu, and it doesn’t mean beef from the city of Kobe. It is beef from a particular kind of cow, in a particular place, in a special way. Only about 2000 of these specially raised cows are slaughtered every year, and it it sold at retail (if you can get a hold of it) for $500 a kilo.

Read more about Kobe beef on his blog, and check out his portfolio here.

Now, it is quite obvious that Kobe beef is not some kind of happy accident of nature. It is a manmade product in all senses of the word. The cows were bred to be a certain way, and they are raised with plenty of human intervention. It is really agriculture - which is, after all, the process of growing food for human consumption - taken to its extreme.

This reminded me of another manmade meat product, which for various reasons has been the center of controversy, especially in the U.S., for a few years: fois gras. A few people object to the method of producing a duck or goose with a fatty liver, called gavage, which involved force feeding food into the bird’s gullet with a tube. These few people have been very vocal, and in some places successful. The anti-gavage movement has even spread in a small way to Europe, though most people here (from my very unscientific observations and conversations - though some EU countries have started the procedure to ban gavage) shake their heads at the very notion of the government trying to ban its consumption.

The best observations on the fois gras conflict in the U.S. that I have read is in from Incanto, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco (via Elise’s Twitter). Note that I think it’s the best partly because I wholly agree with the opinions expressed there. (It’s also quite well written, as are their past newsletters, which you can also read on their site. It’s the first time the quality of writing on their web site or newsletter has made me want to visit a restaurant!)

The point made there that I agree with the most is this: I think there is far too much preaching and pushing of ones opinion on other people going on in the food world. It is one thing to decide for yourself, and possibly for your family, how and what you eat. It’s quite another to try to force others to do so, particularly through government legislation. I tend to be sort of left of center when it comes to politics, but some of the tactics used by people and organizations who have a particular food agenda makes me want to shy away from them - even if I actually share their particular stance on a food issue.

As humans, we have to eat to survive, and except for a very few people, we rely on other people to grow or make the food for us. It is good to keep a vigilant eye on the process by which food reaches our tables, but “your way” is not always the “right way” for everyone. We all have to make our own decisions, and hopefully we can continue to do so.

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Foie gras

Whilst I don't like the idea of gavage at all, I don't try and push my views on others.
Unfortunately, the courtesy isn't always returned.
So, for one of the few occasions where I was able to fly to Japan in Business class (CDG-NGO), instead of eating the sort of delicious meal JAL is famous for I got this:
http://bp2.blogger.com/_n1sjt7SfiAw/SFuFkYKQ97I/AAAAAAAAAI0/Wd1wbo_Wezo/...
It was the only way I could avoid being served foie gras.
I really felt 'punished' for sticking to my principles
(seriously - the rice was atringent and vile, thankfully I was able to request a bowl of udon later and some Japanese white rice with furikake - the only decent food I ate on board)

Loretta | 28 August, 2009 - 13:02

Re: Foie gras

Hmm, why didn't you just ask for the fois gras to be removed from your tray? It works for me (not with fois gras, but other stuff) (though I disagree about JAL's food being that good, there are others that are much better)

maki | 28 August, 2009 - 13:52

Re: Foie gras

I had my conscience wrestle with that one, but having something be removed to then be thrown away is no different (and in my eyes worse) than eating it.
There was no route that allowed me to order a meal without foie gras being ordered and prepared on my behalf so I bailed out.
Thanks for consoling me about what I didn't get to have. I'll assume it's not that different from ANA's business class offering - very pretty, but not a patch on what even a 1,500yen ($15) kaiseki style lunch menu in Tokyo would provide.

Loretta | 28 August, 2009 - 19:00

Re: Foie gras

I really don't know why airlines continue to try to come up with hot meals. Why not just stick to foods that are always good at room temperature, like sandwiches or bentos? It's a mystery to me. The best meal I ever had on a plane was on Air France, and it was a selection of cheese served with crusty bread and a good wine. So simple, guaranteed to be good. I would not mind bringing my own bento or even onigiri, but I never seen to have the time before a trip...

maki | 28 August, 2009 - 19:38

Re: Real beef

I think part of the problem is that it's a very thin line between preaching and pushing your beliefs on others and simply trying to educate people on what they're actually eating (e.g. I'm not going to tell most people they can't eat veal - I do though feel that a lot of people would not want to eat veal if they knew how it was made) or vocally expressing your displeasure to a producer in order to supplement economic pressure. I think a lot of people with good motives slip into the 'bad' category unbeknownst to themselves.

My other comment is that though Kobe beef is very much a product affected by man, it seems that it came about through man working with and around nature, by selectively breeding cows, and relying on the soil content, which effects the grazing, and thereby the eventual meat product. (Which is very different from, say, roundup ready soybeans, which were created by man with nature in absentia.)

anon. | 28 August, 2009 - 16:25

Re: Real beef

I completely agree with your comment about there being a fine line. One person's innocent zeal could easily be offensively aggressive to another.

On the other hand, I think discussing whether man works "with" or "without" nature in the production of food is a moot point. Genetic modification is also man working with and around nature. We borrow genes that already exist; we are far from designing genes entirely from scratch (although even that is still, in a sense, working within the limits of nature). In the extreme, everything is natural; some things are just more modified by man than others. Where you draw the line for such modification is a personal issue.

wanpo | 3 September, 2009 - 07:28

Re: Real beef

wanpo wrote:

On the other hand, I think discussing whether man works "with" or "without" nature in the production of food is a moot point. Genetic modification is also man working with and around nature.

When you say genetic modification you do not mean selecting what is naturally available in the plant /animal but put a gen from an other species in it?

wanpo wrote:

We borrow genes that already exist; we are far from designing genes entirely from scratch (although even that is still, in a sense, working within the limits of nature)

There was a scandal with peas which had been modified with a bean gen....and the quails and mice which were feed the peas got ill, also could not reproduce good enough with healthy offspring...

The gen itself was harmless in the bean, but in combination with the different pea gens it became harmful.

Also in germany was a scandal where cows died after eating modified corn which had the gen of a bacteria in it. It should produce a toxin, normally harmless for humans but deadly for insects which feast on the corn.

But in the corn the toxin turned dangerous, cummulated in milck and meat of the cows and killed the adult cows after some years of cummulating...and the calves of the cows also died when they were feed the milk from the intoxicated, but not yet ill looking cows.

Same with a potatoe which was pulled from the american market after some years and the cases of severe health problems raised higher and higher until they could not longer ignore it.

Putting gens from a different species in plants or animals is not working with nature..not in the way the person you commented to meant it.

You can never tell how a gen will behave in a different setting..that is different then from breeding a cow over generations to gain more muscles or have a different hide.
And you can not make sure that the genes will not jump to a different species again.

wanpo wrote:

In the extreme, everything is natural; some things are just more modified by man than others. Where you draw the line for such modification is a personal issue.

No, it is not a personal issue...or how do you like the idea of the nazis that tried to breed humans with apes to get better working slaves?

Is that also a personal issue?

Or where monsato is seeling genetically modified seeds which will produce infertil seeds in the second generation so the farmers have to buy the expensive seeds from the company because the market only buys the identical lookig, easy to pack vegetables?

Or the soybeans which are genetically altered to be resistent against herbicides....the genes jump to wild plants and the farmers have to use higher and higher ammounts of poison to keep the wild plants away...and all the poison also stays in the soy bean, cummulates in the animal which are feed the soy beans and then the poison is reaching your plate....

..because it is the personal choice of the company to genetically modifie the plant to sell more of the herbizide they also produce and make more money instead of using the breed with had been endemic to the area and with which the company would not earn money?

Farmer everywhere are forced to use the seeds provided by the big companies, which need more care, more water, more herbizide and pesticide to survive in a different climate than to use the grains and vegetables which had been endemic there and survived under the conditions much better.

You have to draw the line there, where the 'personal issue' is getting a danger to the live of others.

Destroying the rain forest..personal issue?
Extincting hundreds of species...personal issue?
Driving 80m/ph in an pedestrian zone...personal issue?
DDT was a personal issue to use for the farmers...oh sure, the birds could no longer reproduce but..hey...who cares?
If you see it in the extreme it was just natural.
The birds would have gone extinct sooner or later, just like the dinosaurs.

If you see it in the extreme way it is also natural if you kill a person in a car accident, everyone has to die sooner or later so it makes no different when or through what circumstances you die...
It is natural when the companies modifie pigs with human genes....
It is natural when the companies modifie a plant to produce a toxin which is normally not found in the plant.

Or is it not?

cyrell | 29 December, 2009 - 14:32

Incanto

Coincidentally, I used to live three blocks away from Incanto, and would often pass by it on my strolls around the neighborhood. I ate there once -- for a birthday dinner -- and the food was amazing. (I probably would have eaten there more often, but living in Noe Valley meant that I was on a pretty strict food budget.) But despite having lived right next door, I never knew that they had such a brilliant series of articles. Thanks for posting the link to their fois gras article -- I really enjoyed reading it and their other letters.

hypothermya | 28 August, 2009 - 21:58

Re: Incanto

The article shows that they do not know anything about ducks, or pruposely ignore it.

I have raised ducks myself, and i also know the buisnes of foie grass on a personal level.

Ducks are not cormorants.

Cormonrants are the birds which swallow big fishes in one gulp, big ammounts of food in short time and only 2 or 3 times a day.

Ducks and goose graze the whole day. Ducks love snails...and wash them in water to make them less slimy...they nibble some herbs, grass...catch a grass hopper,here a worm, there a worm...and when you feed them wheat they take a beakfull and put their beak in the water to take a gulp to swallow the grains better.

Ducks and gooze take very small meals all day..they feed every couple of minutes on a grain, an insect..and they spend much time on bathing and grooming themselves and others.

IN the indusrtialised foie grass buisness they are feed two times a day with an ammount per meal they would never even gobble down over a whole day.
And an iron or plastic feeding tube is much different than to a snail, or very rarely a small fish or frog...or abit of gras or a beakfull of grains.

It is not smooth, not a tiny bite.

And sadly it is true that while force feeding hundreds of goose and ducks in a short ammount of times, there are many accidents.

Accidents where the workers grab the birds roughly to have a better grip because they struggle.

Ducks, geese...i would say any animal hates it to be grabbed at the throat..and they struggle.
Never in their normal live they would have a tube down their throat, 2 times a day for 4 weeks.

The workers grab the birds so hard the hurt them, force the tube down and then it can happen that the tubes goes down the wrong way...or that the stomach ruptures because the tube has gone too deep, or the ammount of food was too much..or the goose had not digest the last meal enough and the new meal is just too much.

Ducks and goose can not vomit..but it happens that the stomach muscles which closes the stomach from the throat can not longer hold the pressure and weakens and all the food flows out again because the stomach is just too happy to ease the pressure. They do not vomit..it just flows back like when a ballon deflates the faster the more air is in it.

The human stomach can expand from 1 litre to 10....but that means immense pain...similiar with ducks which do not like cormorants gobble down big meals in one go.

Also a duck or goose needs to bath to stay healthy. They can not moisten their eyes properly an other way than bathing. But often there is no water because the gruel they are feed makes drinking not neccessary and most birds suffer from eye infection.

Water foal needs to bath to stay clean, to groom themselves..and there is always some gruel in the feathers at the beak which glues the feathers together...sticky and itchy and normally a geese or duck would wash properly after a meal.

But the gruel stays where it is. grooming only with the beak is not enough for a water foal. The gruel will go from the beak everywhere, it will turn bad and germs and mold will grow there.

If the bird is not in a single cage where it can not even move and groom itself, it will desperately try to clean itself...and get gruel everywhere.

Even worse that geese and ducks can not sneeze proplery...they need water to clean their mouth and nostrils.
The scraps from the last meal will stay in their mouth and cloog it until there is the next meal forced down..it will get in their nostril and even if there never is food forced down the wrong way during feeding, it may move there after the feeding.

The gruel clogs the nostril, the birds try to breath and the gruel goes down in the lung where it goes moldy and causes infection...many birds die because of this during the 4 to 6 weeks of force feeding..but that does not matter because there are so many other birds which will bring thousand of dollars.

Ducks and geese hate it to be unclean...to have food around the beak...normally they swish their head around in water frantically, even scratch with their feet to get it clean.

And there they sit for four weeks with no chance to bath once.

Also no bird would eat so much food that the liver stops working...which exactly happens during factory farming of foie grass.

True is that wild geese eat in autum more food then neccessary and store some fat in the liver to be able to fly in a warmer climate....but never so much that the liver is stopping to work..or that the liver gets so heavy the would no longer be able to fly or even breath properly.

Birds need to move their wings, to train the muscles and breath properly.

The muscles which move the wings, also squeeze and expand the air sack...and while flying the lung is aired proplery.

Goose and ducks do not flap their wings because of playfullness even when they are a breed which can no longer fly...they do workout for the muscles to work.

True the wings are not able to carry them into the air...but the trained muscles air the lung.

And if they can not stretch, flap and run around the muscles get very fast weaker and weaker.
That is also the danger when you have a pet or zoo animal with a broken wing when you have to prevent movement...after one week the muscles are gone weaker and the risk is very high that the improper aired lungs will get infested with fungus..that is also the reason for most deaths of pet birds where you have no other clue...the lung got infested with fungus because the birds could not use their muscles as much as in the wild.

The birds suffer....which is not neccessary to produce foie grass.

If the ducks and geese would be kept on family farms with only a couple of dozen birds which can run around and graze and bath...do you think anyone would protest like they do with the industrialisized stuff?

You pay much money for a overly fatty liver which would be called fat induced hepatetic liver if found in a human,not longer functional....

You pay for food from an animal on a very poor diet..corn and soy gruel when natural kept birds would ingest many different herbs and insects, worms...

You pay for a bird which was feed a diet worth only a handfull bugs...with an ill liver...would you also eat a liver with cancer?

The treatment and food the birds recieve is surely not worth the money you pay for foie grass.

Why would anyone buy such stuff if you could have the same(nearly the same because the liver would not be as fatty but still fatter than a normal goose liver)from a properly treated animal.

Just go to the park and watch the ducks..or even better a farm where they can roam freely and watch how they graze...you will see that they normally eat only a little at a time...not like the author suggested that big ammounts are taken in short time.

Sometimes yes, ducks gobble down hastily big ammounts of bread or snails...but never even a third as much as they are forced at such a factory farm.

Also the author suggested to concentrate on bigger problems first then factory farming foie grass..as an example the hungry children in the USA.

So...does the author concentrate on that problem? NO...he concentrates on serving foie grass....

So why did the author not(who owns a restaurant if i am right) spend a little from the money he makes and cooks at a soup kitchen which feeds the poor?
Maybe he has an advertisment in his/her restaurant where people can give an alm to the poor...no?

Did he even think once about the ammount of food these goose and ducks are force feed...which could also feed the poor?

Every (chicken raising)farmer can tell you that a chicken from the 6 weeks it needs from hatching to beeing big enough for slaughter, needs as much food in calories, fat and protein as a 140 pound human male would need in 4 weeks.

Compare a 5 pound chicken to a 70 pound human and then think about factory farming and starving children.

And then imagine how much more food a foie grass duck or goose is feed..how much money is made with that..and how cheap it is produced..and the meat is thrown in the bin..it is not even used, only the liver.

Would it be so difficult to at least turn the carcass into proper food and gift it to a food kitchen?

Once you have tasted a natural produced foie grass from a proper raised animal your stomach would churn if confronted with farm factory foie grass.

So why should one defend this cruel practice when there are other possibilities.

And just because there are *bigger* problems, is that a reason to ignore other cruelty?

Would you ignore if someone beat his dog just because there suffer dogs elsewhere in laboratories?
Would you ignore if someone beat his children or his wife because in other countries there happens even worse?

No...if there is unneccessary cruelty you can prevent than do it.

You can not prevent that during harvesting crop animals and plants die..or that people die in car accidents.

But you can prevent that birds are force feed or are denied the neccessary water for bathing..or sun and fresh air.
You can also prevent unneccessary car accidents when you drive carefully.

There is a difference between a car accident because of unlucky circumstances and a car accident because the driver ignored a red light and speed limits..or would you say that it is the same?

Or because there are bigger problems like war that one should not care about deaths caused by traffic because someone was careless?

There is also a difference between harvesting crop and killing worms, insects or germs and between harvesting the crops and then force feeding them an other animal and rearing it under cruel conditions.

You have to harvest to have food...even when you would pluck every grain by hand you would kill other beeings...

..but how is it neccessary to force feed a duck to get foie grass?

Sure, it is common practice and it is done since centuries..just like slicing the bellies of pregnant sheeps to skin the unborn lamp and sell the fur as an expensive persian.

But that too was banned as cruel...and unneccessary..now the fur is not as soft as from an unborn lamb, but the lamb is at least born and killed after some hours or days and not cut out of its mother, and the mother killed too.

Nobody cared about the mother sheep because so much money was made with the fur of the lamb....just with foie grass.

So should it be still done today because there are more dire problems?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakul_(sheep)

cyrell | 29 December, 2009 - 15:50

Re: Real beef

"It is one thing to decide for yourself, and possibly for your family, how and what you eat. It’s quite another to try to force others to do so, particularly through government legislation."

I view the matter from a different perspective I guess. To me forbidding something like fois gras wouldn't be forbidding people from eating something they like. Legislation would simply be preventing cruelty to animals. As a side effect of course this food would be unavailable. In my opinion that is not really the same as forbidding someone from eating it, since it affects the availability of the food. It's not like telling a kid they can't have cookies, when there's a jar full of them right there.

I think even if you try to look at it from a completely unbiased point of view and with the utmost objectiveness, the way of producing fois gras really is cruelty to animals.

The way these Kobe cows are treated on the other hand is much different I think and the price paid for the meat reflects that. I know I would eat Kobe beef if offered, but I wouldn't eat fois gras if offered (I've never had it anyway, it's just not popular where I live).

Stefanie | 29 August, 2009 - 13:28

Re: Real beef

Well you know, to be blunt and all, both the ducks/geese and the cows end up dead for our benefit. And I would disagree with the notion that gavage is necessarily horrendously cruel to the birds (see the Village Voice article linked to from the Incanto newsletter for example). But I respect anyone's right to avoid eating fois gras for their own beliefs, or for people who keep kosher to avoid eating pork and shellfish.

I do live in a country (France) where fois gras is very popular and a part of life. It's not one of my top 10 foods personally, but I respect the right of people to enjoy it. As I do the custom in Spain of whole roasted suckling pigs, which in some ways is rather more off-putting to me personally. But hey, I guess I think pigs are cuter than ducks.

maki | 29 August, 2009 - 21:52

Re: Real beef

Hmm, I don't object to the killing of animals for food in general and I don't mind whole roasted suckling pigs at all either. I personally object to the way they are treated before they are killed. Force feeding an animal really can't be nice in any way for that animal, they wouldn't eat that much if it were left to them. The Kobe cows don't get force fed, they are also treated pretty well especially compared to most other cows raised for meat. That's the way I see it, but I respect other people's views on it as well.

Stefanie | 30 August, 2009 - 00:44

Re: Real beef

Hi Maki,

My friend Sylee from Berlin Reified (http://reified.typepad.com/) pointed me to your site. Thanks for the Real beef post which segued into foie gras. I've been living on a farm in Japan for over 20 years, and also spend time in California and the Périgord on a foie gras farm (http://www.foiegras-dubois.com/). Gavage is banned in many EU countries now, including Italy and Gemany. My French friends see the ban coming to France as well. I interviewed the Dubois and their nephew who was managing Sonoma Foie Gras (before he left to go back to France this spring) and I've been toying with writing an article on the subject from a humanistic viewpoint. The Incanto piece was excellent. My friends want us to do foie gras here in Japan (can't ever see it banned here), but my free-range egg farmer husband is not so interested. Oh well.

Nancy

Nancy Singleton Hachisu | 30 August, 2009 - 05:27

Re: Real beef

I just discovered your blog, and while I love the recipes, I also have to admire your willingness to comment on food ethic issues. I live in Sonoma county and have witnessed first hand the struggles in the community between the sometimes militant ecofood movement and local food producers.

Not surprisingly, I agree with your summary of the situation. I completely agree with a group or individual's right to avoid foods and and to educate/disagree with those who do not hold their view. But I have also seen the groups spread misinformation; actively recruit "thugs", for lack of a better word, to threaten or commit actual acts of vandalism and physical harm; and then refuse to condemn those acts (because under no circumstances is it right to threaten someone and their family for serving fois gras).

It also struck me as curious that the groups often target the smaller, more ethically run establishments, while completely ignoring the issues around large scale operations (not only regarding the treatment of the animals, but of the people who work there as well).

Sonoma Fois Gras is a company that is very respectful of the animals in their care. Yes, animals are force fed and slaughtered. But compared to the cruelty being perpetrated by large scale pig and chicken operations, it's a bit like holding up the litterbug as an example while excusing the double homicide. Even if they are both wrong in their actions, all the sound and fury is spent on the minor transgression while the greater wrong is ignored.

Dorothy | 30 August, 2009 - 19:04

Re: Real beef

The greater wrongs are ignored?

You mean like you said the problems with factory farming pigs and cows?

I beg you to take a look again...there are enough campaigns outside against the cruelty of factory farming...like castrating piglets, colts and young bulls without painkiller or debeacking chickens and dehorning cows.

Another matter is the sonoma farm... like this picture http://www.artisanfoiegras.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/feeding.jpg from their website

They compare ducks to cormorants.

Cormorants gobble down big slimy fish in one gulp 2 or three times a day.

And it shows how uninformed people are that the sonoma farm(which is not a small farm but rather one of the large scale operationss) gets away with this claim that ducks and cormorants both feed the same way.

You never have seen a duck or goose graizing, have you?

Ducks take small bites. A snail there, a worm here...a beakfull of corn at a time, some herbs.
Ducks feed the whole day very small ammounts of food and rarely anything bigger as their head is.

Sorry to take your sweet little lie away...but that is how it is.

A duck would never even in a whole day gobble down as much food as it is feed in one meal during force feeding.

Also look at the *spacious group pens* no natural light,no gras, no sun, too many birds in one place..and most important..no water.

Water to bath is essential for ducks and geese...they can not clean them properly otherwise and ducks naturally take bathes various times a day, especially after a bigger meal.

They also need fresh water to moisten their eyes because they can not do it properly otherwise. Even a single day without bathwater will cause pain in their eyes.

Also the animals are feed a corn-soy gruel which is not part of their natural diet..but which fattens them up extremly fast.

Faster then in nature where goose would fatten themselves up to survive the journey south.

They also would never fatten themselves up as much as during force feeding..if they did than there would be no need to force feed them.

They also say that the changes in the liver are

"physiological rather than pathological" which is another blatant lie.

If you had your pet with a liver as fat as one of these geese /ducks has, your vet would wring his hands to save the animal.
The liver could stop working any day...and a human with this condition had to stay in the hospital under strict diet and medication.

Any fat in the liver which changes the natural deep red colour to a soft rose or even white like in the picture, would be called highly dangerous by any vet or physician.

Never you would find anyhting like that in a natural raised geese or duck...or human

Go and ask your doc..let your doc show you pictures of pathological ill fatty livers if you do not believe me.

cyrell | 29 December, 2009 - 16:17

Re: Real beef

there was a thread about Kobe beef being inhumane on Seriouseats' talk section. I thought it was pretty ironic that... ahem, "making animals obese (and thus the various obesity-related conditions) is inhumane" comment was made where 30% of their people (and a lot of their pets!) are obese.

hmw0029 | 31 August, 2009 - 04:27

Re: Real beef

Kobe beef is great, but it's only known around the world because I think it's the only one that is exported. There are so many other and better wagyu brands, like maesawa gyu for example.

As for foie gras, what is the traditional way of making it? Did people also use gavage techniques in the past?

kanmuri | 31 August, 2009 - 08:02

Re: Real beef

Apparently, even Egyptians ate the fatty livers of migrating waterfowl. Those hunters were originally just taking advantage of the bounty autumn migration afforded them as far a large numbers of birds but they noticed that their livers were extra fatty and, it seems, tasty. That's because many migratory fowl gorge themselves by choice before they migrate to maintain themselves during the journey. Other people got in on the act, including those committed poachers of the cultures of others, the Romans. It was later (but from my understanding, not much later) that humans decided to manufacture this seasonal delicacy and thus force-feeding with a tube down a duck's or goose's throat was born.

I have read a fair bit of literature on this, mostly anecdotal, as there is not nearly so much literature on the topic that is actually scientific. I think there needs to be more research into how the different anatomy of birds impacts on the situation (their oesophagi are, it seems, stronger and more rigid than a that of a mammal). All that aside, though, foie gras production isn't the only potentially cruel practice carried out to produce meat, and indeed there are plenty of methods in use (factory farming) that are more demonstrably hideous. All animals deserve protection from torture, no matter the reason behind it, from dogs to fish to humans and if that means no foie gras and no cheap hamburgers, so be it.

Donsie | 1 September, 2009 - 12:25

Re: Real beef

You wrote "As humans, we have to eat to survive, and except for a very few people, we rely on other people to grow or make the food for us."

And that is exactly the point.

Would you die of starvation if you do not get foie gras? No...

So if a person wants to eat panda meat, or chimpanzee flesh...or..maybe eagle eggs would you say it is the choice of the person and no one should interfer?

The personal choice is also always more important than saving an endangered species or preventing unneccessary cruelty?

You do not have to force feed goose to get foie grass ..there is no need to keep goose away from water, fresh air and sun light in tiny cages and force a tube down their throat until they are too ill to survive much longer because of the fattened liver that no longer works.

Kobe cows are treated like kings while goose and ducks for foie grass have to endure cruelty beyond any reason.

So what do you seem will produce a better, healhier and much tastier food?

A goose force feed with a sickly ammount of unnatural food(goose and ducks normally do not ease corn or soy, they eat grains but also herbs, grass, insects), kept away from bathing wich is essential for water birds, kept away from sun light and fresh air.....

Or a goose which could roam free, bath whenever its heart desired it, search for the best herbs themselves(goose are also called feathered sheeps here because they graze so much and eat plenty of greens), could groom itself and its family and had a happy life...

So do you really think it neccessary to keep industrial force feed conditions just because it is the choice of the human what to eat and what not?

Sure, to keep the goose under natural conditions is more expensive..but if someone pays so much money for a liver with fatty degeneration(fatty hepatitis) i am sure these people can spare the money for a liver produced under better conditions.

Also bull fights in spain or dog fights are ones personal choice, are they not?

The goverment has no right to ban it if people find their joy in these activities?

If the people find their joy in torturing a bull to death for hours or setting the horns on fire with tar balls and let it burn to death(also common in some areas of spain), let them have their joy?

And in some places of the earth slavery is still common..but that is just the personal choice of the people, is it not?
Why should the government ban any of these things and call them inhumanely and a crime against humanity?

People here say that the farmers should get more money for the milk they sell to the production plants...they do sometimes not get enough money to be profitable..but the same people whine when the milk price raises 10 cent per litre.

What the people also do not see that these industrialised farming where a farmer has 100 cows and more, is bad for the economy.
Where now one farmer can barely live from 100 cows 20 years ago there could live 3 farmers...and also 3 small dairy factorys which produced the best cheese from milk which came from grass and herbal feed cows with rich cream....it was more expensive, but it was oh so good, with much more good fatty acids...

But now the only thing people care about is the price..hilarious low prices...40 cent for a litre milk but 90 cent for a litre soy milk?

A farmer ...a single farmer can care for 1000 pigs..which was earlier impossible....and now small farms die...

Less and less people find work because one person can do the work which was done before by 5 or 6 familys.

A farmer who keeps gooses for foie grass under good conditions could earn with a doozen goose enough for a living..and in the industrialized farms where hundreds of goose are kept this one farmcompany gets rich and pays the workers just enough for a living.

And the small farmer can not find a market for the good produced foie grass because the companys only buy in bulk from the big farm..and the good procued liver is not as unhealthy fat as the force feed one..but no one cares that it tastes so much better..they just see it is not as big and pale and do not buy it.

Same with the old breed of fruit trees which produce so heavenly tasting fruits...but get extinct because they are not as shiny and beautiful and all the same size and easy to pack as the tasteless new breeds.

..farms which produce good milk from free roaming cows, meat from free roaming pigs die because people think only for a way how they can get the cheapest product.

People that whine about their oh so precious personal choice do not think twice what their personal choice will cost other people.

The people on which we rely to get our food...exactly they would profit if the consumer would rethink their personal choices a bit more than just consume.

Buy the foods from a local farmer even if they are a bit more expensive and not as pretty..but taste so much better?

No way...because the super market is cheaper and it is easier to reach.

And then the people whine about pesticides in the food, food poisoning because salmonellas grow so good under the condition of mass farming..about the bad quality of food and that the food looses nutrition because the soil is deprived of minerals because of the synthetic fertilisier that can not replace the humus formation which occurs with good old farming.

Why do you not whine about the legal requirements which force the farmers to produce with toxic chemicals or when a fruit has not exactly the right size, the perfect roundness or straightness, it is thrown away.

Yeah ..that is not a joke..if a cucumber is not straight enough and is some milimetres away from the requirments it is dumped. If an apple has not the right size..or an orange..it is thrown away.
Some fruits are turned into juice but there are so much oranges in america that the farmers are forced to destroy them because otherwise the price would drop too much.

This is something to whine about...not when the government bans bull fighting or force feeding of goose.

If people can not have fun without mistreating an animal or enjoy a meal without a force feed fattened goose liver when there is the choice to eat foie grass from a goose kept under natural conditions, than yeah..hooray for the goverment to at least make once the right choice and ban it!

I wish they would also ban industrialised mass farming so the food quality would rise again, we would have more tasty food and the farmers would not have to struggle so hard to survive because the big farming cooperations do not give them a chance.

cyrell | 29 December, 2009 - 13:57

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