Ahem, speaking as a foie gras importer and distributor, I think the time has come for me to raise my head above the parapet and dispel a few misconceptions about the ethical sensitivities of how foie gras is made.

No-one, least of all me, likes gratuitous cruelty to animals but I think those who eat farmed fish, or even battery chickens, and then raise their hands in horror at foie gras need to be better-informed about its production. I don’t hear many people canvassing aggressively about the farmed and dyed salmon on every supermarket shelf in the country. Foie gras is no different to any number of farmed products. There are indeed some unhygienic and unethical foie gras farms but not all are universally bad. Of course, we can all watch absolutely revolting videos about ducks and geese, secretly filmed, staggering around bruised and bloodied with bloated livers – all for consumption by greedy over-fed humans. I wholly abhor such conditions. However, one of the most important points to understand about food production is the simple fact that highly stressed animals make poor quality food. If you know where your foie gras comes from and you can taste the quality of the produce, you really can rest assured that the animals have been well treated. The naturally greedy geese and duck are overfed but that doesn’t automatically mean cruelly. Indeed they have had the best life offered to any animal that is culled for human consumption – a last supper to die for. The appalling press that foie gras gets may be deserved in some cases but a blanket sanctimonious condemnation is ignorant, unfair and out of proportion.

Another point: apart from re-calibrating the evidence, whatever happened to freedom of choice?

Ursula Keeling


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