13

votes

Is Foie Gras unhealthy?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 17, 2011 at 4:25 PM

I absolutely love foie gras, and was kind of aware that the ducks are force fed to produce such a large liver, but have only recently thought more about this and looked it up (mostly cuz I found some at a local market!).
The conditions are horrifying (read about caged ducks who can't even move much/bloody and inflamed rears/bloated legs/bleeding to death from the tube punctures), etc etc. And then something about increased amyloid fibrils from eating it? That is scary, but it makes sense since this would be super diseased-liver--one that is 10x a normal one apparently.

If we try not to eat liver from CAFO animals, why would foie gras be ok? From this viewpoint it would be the absolute worse thing to eat coming from essentially obese, nonactive ducks with liver and other chronic diseases.

Baah, I am sad now. I don't think I can eat any more of this happily :(

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

If it were a question about liver per se, that would be different. But here we are discussing a rare, politically charged (set to be banned in CA next year) type of liver.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on April 27, 2013
at 03:09 PM

I don't understand why you closed the thread. A discussion on foie gras is absolutely what paleohacks is about.

417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on September 15, 2011
at 01:42 AM

Adam, I feel the same way. I am stunned i have never seen this video until yesterday. This specific issue of Foie Gras and the more general ethical/sustainable husbandry/farming is soo very essential to the paleo movement discussion, IMHO. But me thinks many folks need to get their own personal health aligned first before they are ready to bite properly into this broader issue :-)

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on September 15, 2011
at 12:50 AM

Dan Barber's Talk was stunning and inspiring.

5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on September 15, 2011
at 12:33 AM

Might want to check these guys out... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCn_0Rkpoh0&feature=player_embedded

5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on September 15, 2011
at 12:28 AM

I buy my veal liver at whole foods frozen from these guys: http://www.freeraised.com/ Seems good to me!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on September 14, 2011
at 03:58 PM

I eat a lot of liver and agree it's healthy, but how could the liver of a sick, suffering duck be healthy? Now, I know predators tend to cull the sick and weak prey but I'd rather eat a healthy duck than foie gras.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 14, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Hey John added your second post to the first in order to clean things up/so people could read your entire arg

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on September 14, 2011
at 03:20 PM

This was my first thought as well.

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on September 14, 2011
at 07:17 AM

I agree - I won't touch either veal or fois gras. I can't believe how ignorant people can be about how their food is produced.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:15 PM

and let me tell you- i hate geese as much as the next guy. they are loud and violent and rude as hell. but, i still dont think they should be tortures so we can glutton ourselves. i find it extremely hard to believe that the RARE wild fois gras is found on any menu, in any store.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:06 PM

im telling ya- GOOSE HATERS.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on August 19, 2011
at 04:04 PM

It depends on the species of bird. Some birds can increase their body mass by 55% just by fattening the liver. It would be bad to eat a diseased liver, just like it would be bad to eat any diseased animal product. But a fatty avian liver is not a diseased one; it's not the same as hepatitis. There's no cell damage or inflammation. When the gorging or gavage stops, the fat dissipates from the liver and it returns to a non-fatty, less tasty state.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 19, 2011
at 08:28 AM

lol i keep getting downvotes too, somewhere. (how do you find where they are?) +1 to undo some of your downvoting :)

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 19, 2011
at 08:23 AM

so it would be worse to eat the diseased liver, right? (if the fat is stored primarily in the liver) o_o. I did see something about the gorging, but i don't think it's as much as force-fed

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 19, 2011
at 02:18 AM

Seriously? That's freaking bizarre. Who cares that much about this topic?

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 18, 2011
at 10:09 PM

ANOTHER anonymous downvote. cowards. there is nothing wrong with this answer except that someone doesnt want to hear it. WHATever. and i love you, too melissa.

417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on August 18, 2011
at 09:55 PM

Indeed. However, the food porn movement and the Paleo movement are somewhat interwoven. It is sometimes difficult to extricate one intention from the other. Nobody engaged in this activity is actively trying to make animals suffer of course. But it is a touchy issue to be sure. To me, this is just another 'tradition' we would all be better off without.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 18, 2011
at 08:18 PM

I haven't told you I love you yet today, have I akd? :-*

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 07:53 PM

This is really one of my hot button issues. I'm perplexed why we as a community aren't more focused on ensuring we aren't inflicting an unnatural existence on any other animal. I would think we would want all life to be lived the way nature intended especially those we plan to ingest and nourish our own bodies.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 07:50 PM

LOL! I'd love to see that!!!

417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on August 18, 2011
at 07:46 PM

Thanks Shari. Next time I'll tell them how a really feel. ;-)

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 07:40 PM

+1 for an excellent post. I'd give you 10 more if I could.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 18, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I think of it as duck butter. All that fat dilutes the liver flavor and makes it spreadable. In France it is commoditized and sold in cans like tuna, and is more affordable than in the USA. It is popular as a topping for green salads, as are other poultry offal (salade aux gesiers). I was warned not to buy it raw and cook it myself - you have to do it right or it comes out bitter.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 18, 2011
at 05:15 PM

this was pre-paleo for me. i seriously had never even heard of fois gras. to me, i just took my friend at her word. it was only long after that night that I found out different places do it differently. plus it was really funny how she just unabashedly took him down. he was just doing his job explaining the house special and she was like.. "Oh!, that's getting banned in CA!..." lol. anyway. good times.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 18, 2011
at 05:11 PM

Everyone assumes itmwas produced the "old way" of harvesting but it's no longer true in most places.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 18, 2011
at 05:10 PM

I would have ordered it. Maybe several orders

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 18, 2011
at 02:36 AM

Thanks for re-opening and re-titling Melissa :) I didn't mean for it to be political at all, it just seemed to go with the way the ducks were fed and so how healthy it is to eat, but I'll keep that in mind for future questions.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 02:00 AM

Thanks for re-opening this one Melissa. I also think this topic is very much paleo-related. I would like to see more discussions about treatment of animals and how that relates to our community. I find it ironic and honestly unsettling that we demand a natural diet and lifestyle for ourselves yet aren't demanding the same of the animals we ingest. To me our participation in forcing unnatural lives (food and otherwise) on other animals is something worthy of our time and discussion.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 17, 2011
at 10:10 PM

thanks for the downvote with no comment, goose-hater.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 17, 2011
at 09:53 PM

thanks for reopening! i appreciate it. i will try to tame the anti-authoritarian streak which runs through me, thicker than blood, and come to terms with the fact that there are good moderators on here doing their best to maintain a polite, well-ordered forum. in the meantime, thank you for putting up with me.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 17, 2011
at 07:35 PM

Melissa - that's a great response.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on August 17, 2011
at 07:34 PM

How could the consumption of liver not have to do with paleo? Liver is *the* most important food. This is a very good question given that some people can't stomach ruminant liver and seek that nutrient density elsewhere.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 17, 2011
at 07:05 PM

as for the enforcement being "random," we are human beings and therefore it's hard to be consistent.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on August 17, 2011
at 06:58 PM

Melissa is right -- doesn't have a lot to do with Paleo. If this thread gets out of hand, we'll delete it. For the record, I am sick of seeing ppl complaining about the great job the mods (Melissa, Gillian, Ed, Kamal & Wcc Paul) are doing.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 17, 2011
at 06:41 PM

I still don't think it has anything to do with paleo.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 17, 2011
at 06:40 PM

I have changed the question to be less political and re-opened it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 17, 2011
at 05:32 PM

i'm so sick of seeing one particular person on here with "close thread" powers, routinely closing off things in an arbitrary manner. this topic SHOULD NOT have been closed off. it's not off topic. the random enforcement of the "closed as diplicative" thing is just silly too, because it's random enforcement! consistency or nothing. why not leave everything up if it's not racially inflammatory or a direct ad hominem attack?

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 17, 2011
at 05:05 PM

yah that's why I put "It *can* be..." because the waiter tried to save it by telling us that they source it from more ethical ways of doing it, but he was a lost ball in tall weeds at that point. I figured the horror stories might be not much different than horror stories of other things (like you mention about beef). Good call.

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12 Answers

8
79dc9d47aeb85d76439c2aa0661df568

(355)

on August 17, 2011
at 04:37 PM

Gordon Ramsay's "F Word" talked about ethical veal a season or two ago -- the calves were not confined, were happy, well-cared-for, and tasted awesome.

One basic fact of the dairy industry is that you're going to have surplus males; you mostly need cows for dairy production. So what do you do with the male calves you don't need? Veal is the logical result. But veal calves can be treated humanely; they don't have to suffer. If we, as consumers, insist on that we can make a difference.

Ethical foie gras in Spain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5c4TXfDHZY&NR=1

Ethical veal: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/dining/18veal.html?ex=1334548800&en=4f509f15fd7c39c4&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on September 15, 2011
at 12:28 AM

I buy my veal liver at whole foods frozen from these guys: http://www.freeraised.com/ Seems good to me!

7
C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

on August 18, 2011
at 04:57 PM

Fowl livers are not diseased merely by being fatty. The primary fat stores for birds reside in the liver and not subcutaneously like they do in mammals. Birds naturally gorge and fatten their livers up prior to migration, so that they have the ability to fly long distances.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 19, 2011
at 08:23 AM

so it would be worse to eat the diseased liver, right? (if the fat is stored primarily in the liver) o_o. I did see something about the gorging, but i don't think it's as much as force-fed

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on August 19, 2011
at 04:04 PM

It depends on the species of bird. Some birds can increase their body mass by 55% just by fattening the liver. It would be bad to eat a diseased liver, just like it would be bad to eat any diseased animal product. But a fatty avian liver is not a diseased one; it's not the same as hepatitis. There's no cell damage or inflammation. When the gorging or gavage stops, the fat dissipates from the liver and it returns to a non-fatty, less tasty state.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 18, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I think of it as duck butter. All that fat dilutes the liver flavor and makes it spreadable. In France it is commoditized and sold in cans like tuna, and is more affordable than in the USA. It is popular as a topping for green salads, as are other poultry offal (salade aux gesiers). I was warned not to buy it raw and cook it myself - you have to do it right or it comes out bitter.

6
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 17, 2011
at 04:32 PM

foie gras is absolutely NOT ok from a humane animal treatment standpoint. i know its so delicious, but i personally wont eat it for the reasons you mentioned. there is other liver pate that is delicious, too and much more humane!

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 17, 2011
at 10:10 PM

thanks for the downvote with no comment, goose-hater.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 18, 2011
at 10:09 PM

ANOTHER anonymous downvote. cowards. there is nothing wrong with this answer except that someone doesnt want to hear it. WHATever. and i love you, too melissa.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 19, 2011
at 02:18 AM

Seriously? That's freaking bizarre. Who cares that much about this topic?

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 19, 2011
at 08:28 AM

lol i keep getting downvotes too, somewhere. (how do you find where they are?) +1 to undo some of your downvoting :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 18, 2011
at 08:18 PM

I haven't told you I love you yet today, have I akd? :-*

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:06 PM

im telling ya- GOOSE HATERS.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 19, 2011
at 05:15 PM

and let me tell you- i hate geese as much as the next guy. they are loud and violent and rude as hell. but, i still dont think they should be tortures so we can glutton ourselves. i find it extremely hard to believe that the RARE wild fois gras is found on any menu, in any store.

5
Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 17, 2011
at 07:01 PM

Foie gras is delicious. A close approximate is to simmer the liver of an ordinary duck or goose, chop finely, add an equal amount of butter and pur??e in a food processor. Duck isn't a very meaty bird but after you render all the fat and make faux foie gras you have a pretty good offset on the cost of the maigrets and leg quarters.

5
79dc9d47aeb85d76439c2aa0661df568

(355)

on August 17, 2011
at 04:34 PM

I've seen a few things re ethical foie gras -- if you can find that in your local market, it might not be so bad.

Google "ethical foie gras" and see if the techniques used make you feel any better.

5
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on August 17, 2011
at 04:33 PM

Many years ago, I decided to refuse to eat veal (whose flesh is tender and white because it's never allowed to move and spends its entire life standing still in its own filth) or fois gras because of the cruel and filthy conditions under which they are forced to live.

Humans die from fatty liver, so the idea of eating something that unhealthy is just kind of awful.

From a paleo standpoint, that kind of unnatural upbringing doesn't fit, either.

5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on September 15, 2011
at 12:33 AM

Might want to check these guys out... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCn_0Rkpoh0&feature=player_embedded

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on September 14, 2011
at 07:17 AM

I agree - I won't touch either veal or fois gras. I can't believe how ignorant people can be about how their food is produced.

4
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 17, 2011
at 04:39 PM

Saying all foie gras is produced inhumanely is like saying like beef is produced inhumanely. There are good and bad farms. If you want to see a tour of a good one, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABeWlY0KFv8

You can also get foie gras-like naturally if you are willing to hunt since waterfowl naturally gorge themselves http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2010/11/ethical-foie-gras-no-force-feeding-necessary/66261/

As for the amyloid issue, my understanding is that was done in lab conditions feeding animals absurd amounts. I eat foie gras maybe once a year.

That said, I don't see what this has to do with paleo and I'm closing it. Take it to another discussion forum.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 17, 2011
at 05:05 PM

yah that's why I put "It *can* be..." because the waiter tried to save it by telling us that they source it from more ethical ways of doing it, but he was a lost ball in tall weeds at that point. I figured the horror stories might be not much different than horror stories of other things (like you mention about beef). Good call.

4e9a5c25d6e74d0bb73026b5fd713ce4

(45)

on April 27, 2013
at 03:09 PM

I don't understand why you closed the thread. A discussion on foie gras is absolutely what paleohacks is about.

4
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 17, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Yah it can be a pretty brutal process.

I was at an expensive Restaurant in San Diego called Lone Star Texas (or something like that) with a big group of co-workers and the waiter was explaining the 'specialty' of the night >> Fois Gras. This girl that was in our group was like "OMG! I know what that is... Isn't that where they... " and went off on basically a lot of the stuff you just mentioned, talking about choking the ducks and the ducks barfing up blood and everything. She even tilted her head back and wrenched her neck for effect. She tore that dude to pieces. Needless to say.. NOBODY was interested in Fois Gras. He didn't even know what to say. Pwned.

At first I was like... "Um... yah I'll have that, please." to break the awkwardness. Everyone laughed so I felt pretty cool for a second. I ended up getting delicious seared scallops.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 18, 2011
at 05:10 PM

I would have ordered it. Maybe several orders

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on August 18, 2011
at 05:11 PM

Everyone assumes itmwas produced the "old way" of harvesting but it's no longer true in most places.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on August 18, 2011
at 05:15 PM

this was pre-paleo for me. i seriously had never even heard of fois gras. to me, i just took my friend at her word. it was only long after that night that I found out different places do it differently. plus it was really funny how she just unabashedly took him down. he was just doing his job explaining the house special and she was like.. "Oh!, that's getting banned in CA!..." lol. anyway. good times.

3
417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on August 18, 2011
at 07:37 PM

1- There is ZERO evidence that Foie Gras has any healthful benefit over and above that of Pate of liver from a non-forced-fed Duck. 2- Therefore, the ONLY reason why these ducks are force-fed is for human PLEASURE, human CURIOSITY and/or human EGO. Again, the act of force-feeding does not to confer any health benefit to the eater. 3-Passively-fed, farmed/domestic ducks do not gorge themselves and thus do not attain such a fatty livers of their own accord. 4-The force-feeding is a 'non-genetically-congruent' brand of farming in that it results in fatty-liver disease in the animal. The animal is resisting the entire time and the animal will not stay at the gavage tube on its own unless it is held there or forced to stay there. 5-Wild, migrating birds do not self-fatten their livers anywhere near the extreme of the forced-feeding-gavage, but as Melissa points out in her link, there are some rare exceptions where a wild bird has a substantially-fattened liver. But these are rare exceptions and not the rule.

To me, being healthy is not about what I find pleasurable or tasty. If one wants to see PETA gain more political power and leverage, then go ahead and continue enjoying Foie Gras.

Finally, as Joel Salatin would likely ask: Are we letting the duck "express its duckiness" when gavaging the animal? I do not think so.

Foie Gras= 2500 year old Epic Fail!

Edit: Thought I would add this video. Watch the whole thing though! Very insightful, I promise. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html The chef/speaker makes an amazing case against conventional foie gras. I've long pondered how something like foie gras got invented. Now I have my answer.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 07:40 PM

+1 for an excellent post. I'd give you 10 more if I could.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 07:50 PM

LOL! I'd love to see that!!!

417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on August 18, 2011
at 09:55 PM

Indeed. However, the food porn movement and the Paleo movement are somewhat interwoven. It is sometimes difficult to extricate one intention from the other. Nobody engaged in this activity is actively trying to make animals suffer of course. But it is a touchy issue to be sure. To me, this is just another 'tradition' we would all be better off without.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on August 18, 2011
at 07:53 PM

This is really one of my hot button issues. I'm perplexed why we as a community aren't more focused on ensuring we aren't inflicting an unnatural existence on any other animal. I would think we would want all life to be lived the way nature intended especially those we plan to ingest and nourish our own bodies.

417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on August 18, 2011
at 07:46 PM

Thanks Shari. Next time I'll tell them how a really feel. ;-)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 14, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Hey John added your second post to the first in order to clean things up/so people could read your entire arg

417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on September 15, 2011
at 01:42 AM

Adam, I feel the same way. I am stunned i have never seen this video until yesterday. This specific issue of Foie Gras and the more general ethical/sustainable husbandry/farming is soo very essential to the paleo movement discussion, IMHO. But me thinks many folks need to get their own personal health aligned first before they are ready to bite properly into this broader issue :-)

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on September 15, 2011
at 12:50 AM

Dan Barber's Talk was stunning and inspiring.

1
A95770dd1cb626620429df3ecf19eb9f

on August 18, 2011
at 01:09 PM

isn't foie gras just the fat from (minimally processed) grain?

0
417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on September 14, 2011
at 04:52 AM

Thought I would add this video. Watch the whole thing though! Very insightful, I promise. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_s_surprising_foie_gras_parable.html The chef/speaker makes an amazing case against conventional foie gras. I've long pondered what kind of selfish idiot could have invented foie gras. Now I have my answer.

0
149af6e19a06675614dfbb6838a7d7c0

on August 19, 2011
at 05:36 AM

Only for the bird...

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on September 14, 2011
at 03:20 PM

This was my first thought as well.

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