Foie gras has long been a hot button issue, not just for foodies but for society in general. It has pitted animal rights activists against the liver lovers for years in protests, campaigns, and even the outlawing of foie gras in California. But chef and farmer Dan Barber aims to change all that with what he calls the first American truly free-range foie gras—no feeding tubes necessary.
The reason that foie gras is controversial more than other forms of meat or offal is because of these feeding tubes, or a process known as gavage. Ducks and geese are fitted with these tubes and then force-fed to engorge the liver. Though ducks have a different gag reflex and a very tough stomach lining, so the tube does not hurt them, activists still say that the practice is barbaric and that the engorged liver causes the ducks pain and disease. But … what if it was normal to eat until the liver was engorged, and if no feeding tubes were necessary?
That is what Eduardo Sousa says, and proves, is possible on his Spanish farm. There, he simply raises the ducks in a free-range fashion, providing them with the natural nuts, grains, and berries that they would eat in the wild. Each year, with the oncoming winter, they eat enough to put on fat to prepare for the colder weather. This results in a fattened liver, or all-natural foie gras.
Dan Barber, of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, became entranced with Sousa and his method of producing foie gras when he visited Sousa’s farm in 2009, saying that it is truly a delicious foie gras and the future of production: ethical and free from much of the controversy that surrounds it.
To that end, Barber has been trying to create his own free-range foie gras production on his farm for the last three years. There have been hardships—lack of proper resources, no need for the ducks to forage for food, and the cost itself. But Barber is dedicated to the project, and is confident that he can bring a controversy-less foie gras to America.
Sit tight, Californians. You foie gras ban could be over before it begins.
Cheeseslave. (2009, October 20). Chef Dan Barber brings sustainable, humane foie gras to America. Retrieved from http://www.cheeseslave.com/chef-dan-barber-brings-sustainable-humane-foie-gras-to-america/. (2012, April 26).