Jodi Minion 
Member since Dec 23, 2010


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Re: “Foie gras: Not so evil?

As a wildlife biologist, I take issue with several of the conclusions made by Serious Eats about the well-being of ducks on foie gras farms.

It cannot be deduced that simply because ducks’ esophagi are flexible that forcing a feeding tube down their throats is not uncomfortable or harmful. Even if a feeding tube was the width of blade of grass, routinely shoving a plastic or metal object into a duck’s esophagus causes scratches, lacerations, and bruising (sometimes severe); bacteria fester in these areas and can cause painful, debilitating infections.

Free-roaming ducks eat frequent small meals to prepare for migration, they never gorge. As the days shorten, their bodies naturally begin to metabolize fat more quickly, allowing them to store extra fat in adipose tissues and muscles. These birds are not designed to metabolize fat at a high rate, as evidenced by how quickly it metabolizes in the liver, thus causing force-fed birds to quickly develop life-threatening diseases, including obesity and fatty liver disease. Force-feeding is also linked to gastrointestinal diseases and blockages, spleen and blood disorders, and respiratory illnesses.

Ducks are water birds. Confining them to crowded, dusty warehouses with no access to a body of water, grass, fresh air, or even sunlight prevents them from engaging in even the most basic natural behaviors, such as swimming, bathing, and preening their feathers.

The birds at the farm visited by Serious Eats aren’t living the high life. The actions described by the author indicate distress (fleeing into corners, crowding together, and vocalizing loudly). The birds’ feathers are in disarray, damaged, and dirty. The ducks are standing on concrete, which can cause painful sores on feet that are designed for paddling and walking on grass and mud. The birds in the photos list forward and to the side, indicating that they are ill and/or depressed.

As the author points out, the farm he visited is one of the “better” ones. Many are far, far worse. A recent investigation of foie gras farms in France (which export foie gras all over the world), revealed that ducks are confined to cramped, filthy cages barely larger than the ducks’ bodies. (See video footage here: http://www.peta.org.uk/features/sir-roger-….) If you purchase foie gras, your are supporting cruelty—some of it just isn’t quite as obvious as France’s iron maiden-like cages.



Posted by Jodi Minion on 12/23/2010 at 1:12 PM

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