Is It Wrong to Eat Foie Gras?

Foie Gras Facts

Foie gras is fattened goose liver, a rich and delicate French dish typically served as a p�t�. Foie gras production is controversial because it involves "gavage," a force-feeding process that takes place 12-18 days before the goose is slaughtered. This procedure enlarges the liver with fat deposits, lending foie gras its signature flavor and buttery texture.

Culinary Art or Cruelty?

But is the stomach-turning production of foie gras worth the stomach-delighting culinary arts that result? Premier chefs like Chicago's Charlie Trotter don't think so: "I don't believe that any animal should have to go through that for our benefit." Chef Wolfgang Puck followed suit last month by banning foie gras in his restaurants.

Culinary Career Confidential

Then again, foie gras preparation has long been a test of a chef's mastery of the culinary arts--a rite of passage for a culinary career. "The way a chef prepares foie gras is a yardstick, his signature, a showcase of his style," says Rocco DiSpirito, chef at Union Pacific. Chefs are reluctant to stop serving a dish so important to their culinary careers, but are increasingly wary of public opposition to it.

Foie Gras Makers Act to Save Their Careers

But the culinary art of foie gras may not be doomed. Geese have a natural gorging instinct, claim producers. A more humane approach takes advantage of this instinct and avoids force feeding. Last year a Spanish company won the 'Coup de Couer' in Paris for its free-range foie gras.

Will the traditional culinary art of foie gras survive public scrutiny? Not unless foie gras production becomes more appetizing.

The New York Times, "Chefs Staggered by the Foie Gras Crisis of '98"
The New York Times, "Foie Gras Makers Struggles to Please Critics and Chefs"
MSNBC, "Wolfgang Puck's New Kinder, Gentler Menu"