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The Word on Duck - Revisited

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 17, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Revisited because I see there is another thread on duck here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/8517/whats-the-word-on-duck#axzz2bpw2OHmR

I would like to know more about the health benefits/drawbacks of duck and how it compares to other meats. It is classed as poultry, but I should think it differs significantly from the likes of chicken as it is a water bird and would have a different kind of diet and life. It tastes more like pork (to me at least). I know that pork and chicken are considered less than ideal compared to fish and grass-fed beef. So where does duck rank in the hierarchy?

Does duck tend to have some vitamin D? I don't know much about this but it seems a lot of the sea-derived vitamins and minerals we get from fish would also be found in duck albeit to a lesser degree. Seem legit?

It is a very fatty bird. I know that the omega-3/omega-6 profile will vary a lot depending on what kind of life the duck had. There is wild duck and domesticated duck. What do these ducks typically eat?

People talk a lot about how "good" duck fat is. Is it particularly healthy or is the hype mainly over the taste? Should I just stick to coconut oil?

I got my duck fillets at a local butchers. It was frozen and sourced from a French distributor called Prim's. There are also fresh Irish duck fillets at my local supermarket. It is the supermarket's own brand (Dunnes Stores). Which would be the better option?

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on August 20, 2013
at 02:52 PM

I saved my duck fat and used it to roast eggplant and brocolli. Holy shit it is amazing.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on August 17, 2013
at 09:08 PM

Thanks very much, that's extremely helpful. I find it scandalous that products clearly marked as "wild" would actually be farmed. I get wild salmon (frozen and smoked) at said supermarket. I think the distinction is more apparent with fish, though. Makes sense that farmed duck would be fattier - they have a pretty easy life! I saw on the Prim's website that their ducks are free-roaming and are fed their "natural" diet (whatever this word is supposed to mean). I will do some research on the standards of duck farming in Ireland. I'd like to try the fresh stuff as well as frozen.

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Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on August 17, 2013
at 08:54 PM

You're in Ireland (so says your user profile), and I'm sure the rules are different there than here in the US -- and I can only attest to the US.

All animals, be they called "wild" or even if they are more commonly known as wild or hunted, if sold in a grocery store or restaurant, are farmed. For example, if you get an elk or deer steak here, it's farmed elk or deer. Even so-called "wild boar" or "wild mallard" (i.e. duck) - farmed.

Duck is definitely poultry, since it's farmed (all poultry is domesticated, by definition).

Farmed ducked (even "wild" farmed duck) is fed a variety of grains, usually. It pays to talk to the breeder or farmer if you want to get a duck that isn't fed soy, or if some of them got a more varied diet that just one grain.

This About page talks about wild ducks, and lists the following foods.

  • Small fish and fish eggs
  • Snails, worms and mollusks
  • Small crustaceans
  • Grass and weeds
  • Algae and aquatic plants and roots
  • Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians
  • Aquatic and land insects
  • Seeds and grain
  • Small berries, fruits and nuts

From eating hunted-from-the-wild ducks on a handful of occasions (I'm a lucky guy), I can personally attest to a few things:

  • Hunted ducks are much leaner than farmed raised ducks. I would say, after we dressed them and cooked them from a fresh kill, they probably had 50-80% less body fat than what you would see on a prime cut of farmed duck breast, which has that delicious, thick layer of fat.
  • The hunted ducks really taste like what they are eating. One time we prepared them, the ducks tasted like lake fish.

Farmed duck fat is in a similar position to farmed pork fat - while it /generally/ can have a fairly benign spectrum of fat - some SFA, plenty of neutral MFA, and some PUFA -- depending on what the animals are fed, this percentage can skew heavily towards MUFA and PUFA.

I would say the rage over duck fat is two fold -- one, yes, it tastes delicious and unique. But, even for the fat-phobic-saturated-fat-and-butter-will-kill-you types, duck fat (and pork) leans towards having a closer profile to olive oil, than it does to butter or coconut oil. From readings, and personal preferences, I tend to view MUFAs as neutral - not good, not bad, just neutral. So, I wouldn't ever worry about possibly eating MUFA-heavy duck fat (and more than I would worry about olive oil), but I also wouldn't make it the only fat I consume.

I would do some research about what types of livestock and meat can be sold in Ireland - if there's a chance a farmer at a market is selling you true, wild ducks, that would be pretty fantastic.

Duck liver - farmed or hunted -- is also pretty amazing. The farmed varieties tend to be much larger.

I hope this info helps a bit.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on August 17, 2013
at 09:08 PM

Thanks very much, that's extremely helpful. I find it scandalous that products clearly marked as "wild" would actually be farmed. I get wild salmon (frozen and smoked) at said supermarket. I think the distinction is more apparent with fish, though. Makes sense that farmed duck would be fattier - they have a pretty easy life! I saw on the Prim's website that their ducks are free-roaming and are fed their "natural" diet (whatever this word is supposed to mean). I will do some research on the standards of duck farming in Ireland. I'd like to try the fresh stuff as well as frozen.

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