Sunday, 13 December 2015

Fattened Ducks.



Not so many small farmers fatten ducks these days, so I was rather pleased (relieved) to find these few on sale yesterday at my nearby small town's weekly market. It's a dying tradition.

I am well aware that many people are against the practice, and that some countries either ban the production of such birds, or have banned the importation of their livers.

Those who are 'anti' claim the process to be cruel. Those who are 'pro' claim that they are simply replicating nature. Personally I have never seen any cruelty in the force feeding of birds, just a very quick (3 seconds) injection of food that the ducks actually seem to enjoy. The birds never show any signs of stress or discomfort, and they are far too valuable to be mistreated.

I make no apologies in saying that yes, I do buy foie gras every year. I place a walnut sized lump in the centre of my annual production of paté, much the same as every other person in the area who produces their own charcuterie.

Some practises are not perfect, but I genuinely believe that producers of foie gras do their utmost to make sure that their birds live a good life, and my paté without that little central jewel just wouldn't be the same.

One thing is certainly true, birds that are bred for the production of foie gras are far more pampered and cosseted that most chickens that end up on your Sunday table; even the free range bio ones.




39 comments:

  1. Very important conclusion about caged chickens. And besides, fois gras is tasty!

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    1. That is it's downfall; it just tastes so good!

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  2. Amazing photo, why do they cover the duck's faces? may be it is because once you saw the face you'll never be able to eat it..

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    1. They are killed by cutting their throats, and the paper covering is simply to hide it and catch any blood.

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  3. Academically and by inclination I'm not a meat eater (and for periods of my life wasn't) but I enjoy meat and do eat it and those ducks certainly look a whole lot better and healthier than the doubtless anti-biotic-filled ones that are a available in my local supermarket.

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  4. I've also toured our local foie gras farm and seen for myself what goes on...
    and the birds certainly do seem to like what is fed to them.
    When we went into a shed where gavage had taken place, they all looked at the farmer as she followed us in...
    and followed her every movement....
    until she walked past the gavage machine and it was clear that they weren't going to get seconds....
    then they began quacking conversationally at each other...
    with the occasional glance over to her...
    just to make sure they weren't going to miss out!
    And they are pampered...
    but the farmer is currently very worried about the new larger gavage cages that she is, by law, going to have to get.
    She feels that they haven't been thought through... and that they may well end up harming her fowl.

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    1. They never see a cage of any sort here. They are out and about, and come for their gavage when called.

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  5. To some extent I can see both sides of this argument Cro, but I do agree with you that many of the birds (and other animals) that we eat do not have comfortable and happy lives. Unless one becomes an absolutely strict vegetarian then all one can do is to eat properly sourced products and know that they have had a good life. After all - if none of us ate these things they wouldn't have a life at all would they?

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    1. They do have a good life, and for their final few weeks of forced feeding they are really pampered.

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  6. Our children would be force fed foie gras if they could, they love it so much, especially our daughter !! When she goes to France she force feeds herself with it !!!!!
    I do tend to agree with everything Weaver has said and, I'm sure that most people would like to think that farm animals and poultry have a decent life. XXXX

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    1. I find it a little 'rich' nowadays, and only eat it in my paté. In times past I would eat it whenever possible.

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  7. It is indeed a little hypocritical to be so against foie gras, while tucking into any other kind of 'meat industry'- meat.
    I love foie gras, but haven't eaten it in a long time, because not available where I live OR extortionate price tags. The meat from the birds is also very, very tasty.
    What I love about France is that they still have this connection between living animal and meat for the table, unlike so many other western countries where you buy your meat in the supermarket on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic.

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    1. It's like so many country ways, there's always someone who's 'anti'; mostly because they don't understand.

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  8. If you have ever dressed a pigeon, pheasant or bird for the table you will see that their crops are full. You can have a lovely time looking at their chosen foods if you want to. It is natural for the bird to gorge itself and fill its crop. Ducks naturally gorge themselves before migration, and they do not gag because they have no mechanism for gagging. They are birds with a crop to fill and a throat down which the food goes one way or another. As Cro says they are happy birds, love their owners and are well pampered.

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    1. This is what I meant by replicating nature. Over eating is almost natural; not unlike humans at Christmas.

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  9. It sounds like they have a far better life than the American chickens who are packed into sheds as though on a cattle car to the camps.

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    1. Those sheds exist here too. The hens, etc, are supposed to have a certain space each to move about it, but they always look squashed together.

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  10. I've never tasted foie gra, and wonder when the opportunity might actually present itself. Thank you for this post's insights into the process by which the luxury item is produced locally in France. I guess I am now just a bit curious to find out more...firsthand.

    Best wishes.

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    1. Fresh foie gras lightly fried to accompany a really good steak is heaven. If you see it on a menu; go for it.

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  11. I employ a different method (involving liquid not solids) to enlarge my liver.

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    1. You're talking about 90% of the population, but no-one marches with placards outside all our bars and pubs.

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  12. I've never had duck or foie gras, I might just have to visit France one day to try all the wonderful food!

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  13. You've never eaten DUCK? I'm amazed. You don't know what you've been missing all these years.

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  14. Very informative thank you. I was under the impression (not sure why) that the ducks were force fed for much longer than three seconds a day. Never tried foie gras but wouldn't be adverse to giving it a go.

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    1. The daily dose is given very quickly by 'squirting' a mixture of maize and oil directly into their throats. IT's all over very fast, and they walk off happy.

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  15. I'm looking forward to some next week

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  16. Don't like foie gras but I do like duck. Those birds look fine specimins.

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    1. These Ducks do give off an awful lot of fat when roasting, but it keeps them very moist.

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  17. Just prior to the California foie gras ban was implemented in 2012, my friends and I greedily ordered as much of the stuff as we could get our hands on. Restaurants seemed to go into 'overdrive' procuring and serving the stuff as well. -get it while the getting is good, we thought. The ban has since been overturned & animal rights groups hope, of course, for a reinstatement. We shall see...

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    1. There are killjoys everywhere. They never stop.

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  18. I love fois gras and stock up on it when we are in France. It shall be part of our Christmas celebrations you may be sure -- and a new delicacy we discovered from a local farmer -- who stuffs figs with it. The figs are imported from Andalusia -- the farmer searched throughout the Mediterranean region for exactly the right fig and found it in Spain! Anyway, the delicacy is one of the most delicious morsels I have ever tasted!

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  19. I've never eaten duck or goose. Surely this delicacy can't be good to eat? A liver enlarged by 6 to 10 times by force feeding can't be good for animal or human.

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    1. They are fattened with crushed Maize, no nasty chemicals involved. It imitates what the birds do themselves before migrating for the winter. It's certainly not 'natural', but the end product is delicious.

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