Swiss shopping news: Get used to happy foie gras

nomorefoisgras.jpgWe received a PR release the other day from LeShop, Migros’ home food delivery web site, that they are no longer going to be selling traditionally raised (with the gavage method of force-feeding) foie gras to German speaking Switzerland. This didn’t come about because of government legislation, but apparently was a decision made by Migros, following the results of customer surveys which were overwhelmingly against gavage.

Indeed if I put in my postal code (which is in German hugodubnonongave.jpg speaking Switzerland) before browsing around LeShop’s site, the traditional foie gras doesn’t even show up. Only a non-gavé version of foie gras shows up. (It looks suspiciously like liverwurst, but I’ll reserve judgement.) Non-gavé basically means that instead of being force-fed, the geese (or ducks) have been gently persuaded to feed. (Maybe they should be sat down in front of a TV with a remote control too.)

Migros is just one store, but anyone who lives in Switzerland knows how much they dominate here, so it’s quite a big deal when they stop selling something for ethical/political reasons.

It all seems a little bit silly though, since you could just go over to to French speaking (or I guess, Italian speaking) Switzerland, or even France, to get a lobe of gavé foie gras if you wanted to. (Strasbourg, which is one place known for good foie gras, is just 2 hours by train from Basel.) Non-chain comestibles stores in the area are probably going to continue to sell it for the time being too, and no word yet on what Coop will do. Besides, I wonder how many of those customers surveyed actually have had real foie gras to start with. The results of the survey cold have been influenced by a recent feature on gavage that was shown the leading consumer reports show on SF DRS, the leading Swiss German TV channel, though I’m not sure if the survey was taken before or after that show.

But I guess the decision was made, either for the sake of P.R or for genuine ethical considerations. In any case, I’m now very curious about this non-gavé foie gras, and will try it soon and report back.

I must say I am not necessarily gnashing my teeth over the foie gras issue, for selfish reasons: I like foie gras well enough, but I wouldn’t kill for it. I like it in its simplest form, poached and sliced, preferably served cold. All those fancy patés and seared foie gras and whatever…don’t do much for me. Now if we were talking about caviar or toro…

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What the customers want...

I guess I’m too cynical to think that it has much to do with a stand that Migros is taking — more that they’re responding to customer wishes. Did you read about the lobster soup in the Selection line? I think it was in KTipp that I read that some group wanted Migros to stop selling it because of the inhumane way lobsters are killed for the soup, but Migros basically said sorry, our customers want it and we’re going to continue to make it available for them. But anyway, my understanding is that Migros has made certain value decisions for a long time, such as not selling any alcohol? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

By the way, if I may ask. Do you have a good recipe for a fish bouillon for Fondue Chinoise that you might share? My local Coop has only salmon heads for sale for stock making purposes and that sounds like it would be too overpowering.

Happy Holidays!

z | 20 December, 2007 - 21:50

fondue chinoise

Hi z, fondue chinoise to me sounds a lot like shabu shabu, and for that we just use a dashi stock. I think it would be good with a vegetarian dashi too. I agree, using fish heads and such may be too overpowering for the meat!

maki | 21 December, 2007 - 02:45

fwah huh?

I just recently tried fois gras simply prepared (though warm), and thought it was very tasty, but I agree, I wouldn’t go crazy over a store deciding not to sell it. In Chicago, they institued some kind of fois gras ban, which chefs are openly flouting.
There was also a recent (funny) story in the NY Times about wealthy diners who get drunk and disorderly in fine restaurants and behave badly. One of the stories involved a large patron who after several bottles of wine decided to taunt a group of fois gras protesters outside the restaurant by jumping up and down (jiggling his fats) and proclaiming “This is what fois gras did to me!” Then he went back inside, dropped trou, and mooned the protesters in front of the shocked diners. I find that hilarious.
Fois gras seems like a very small issue to me when compared to other world problems, but I guess we all pick what is important to us and fight our battles accordingly.

Nico | 21 December, 2007 - 00:03

Re: fwah huh?

You said it is a small issue..but are 23.000 tons really a so small business?

23.000 tons...one ton 1000 kilogram.

And one kilogram foie gras means 3 force feed ducks..not maximum, just medium number of animals and the 10% of the animals which die during the procedure are not even counted

this mean 3000 animals per ton

23.000 tons foie gras means 69.000.000 animals ..or 69 million animals

Small issue?

How much animals have to be abused to make it an worthy issue for you?

Is the number of victims really an issue if a cruel practice has to be banned?

Like say...dog fighting...there are dying only a couple of thousand dogs a year because of dogs fights, so let the people have their fun because there are other more important issues?

Oh...or killing baby seals...there are only killed some hundred thousand babys per year through clubbing, why protest against it?

It is only a minor issue....or not?

And do you think that people which are against mistreating ducks are only against cruel treatment of ducks, do you not think they are also against other cruelty..no matter if it is cruelty against animals as also cruelty against humans like enslavment,child prostitution, foced prostitution in general...

So...how many animals have to endure unneccessary cruelty to make it an issue for you?

cyrell | 29 January, 2010 - 12:34

Happy geese

I am glad that Migros have decided to do this - it’s such an awful way to treat an animal. Lots of small steps like this can add up to a big deal in terms of animal welfare. I am not a vegetarian but do think that the most humane treatment of animals is important.
India

india | 21 December, 2007 - 14:33

Re: Happy geese

Unfortunately it seems now proven that the *friendly* non force feed fatty liver was a lie.

But take a look for yourself.

http://www.vgt.ch/vn/0901/foiegras.htm

i hope you can read german,otherwise i can search for some translation.

And if you have some knowledge about ducks you can imagine that migros made some dirty lies because a healthy liver weights only 50 grams.

How comes that a normal duck or geese would stuff itself up to 300 grams?

cyrell | 29 January, 2010 - 12:37

Re: Happy geese

Just for the records: the VGT organization referred in the above post is the PETA equivalent in Switzerland.

Guruman | 29 January, 2010 - 22:28

Thanks!

Thank you so much for the dashi ideas. I think I’ll do that, at least make one pot of it, so that if the in-laws can’t handle it, they’ll also have regular bouillon. BTW, it’s fish fondue, no meat.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

z | 21 December, 2007 - 21:59

I’ve tasted the

I’ve tasted the “friendly fed” foie gras, and I don’t think it tastes as good as the gavé version. For me, what it ultimately comes down to is what tastes best.
I always go to St. Louis (just over the border from Basel) to buy my foie gras, so Migros’ decision doesn’t affect me whatsoever.

The Big Finn | 26 December, 2007 - 16:05

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