Five Legal Foods Just As Cruel As Foie Gras

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Wikimedia contributor David Monniaux, via Creative Commons

See also:

-Get Foie Gras--On Your T-Shirt
-Foie Gras Lovers, Haters, Fought for Foie Last Night at Haven Gastropub Foie Dinner
-Farewell To Foie: Everyone Gets a Pound of Foie Gras at The Playground's $130 Dinner Event


"Foie gras is cruel. Those poor ducks."

The anti-foie gras people, of course, don't want to ban just foie gras. Many of them would like to ban meat altogether as cruel, forcing everyone to espouse a vegetarian diet. While there's nothing wrong with being vegetarian, let's not pretend that vegetables just magically spring up out of the ground and fly with magic dust through the air to your crisper drawer. There's a human cost to any food, and the larger the production, the higher the human cost. Here are five examples.

5. Sugar

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Where do you suppose the first people kidnapped from Africa were put to work? Not in cotton fields in Alabama. Not in rice paddies in South Carolina. No, American slavery started with sugar, and while outright slavery in the Caribbean is relatively rare, a lot of sugar involves working conditions that would shock even the most hardened American social worker.

4. Lettuce

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When you look at a bag of commercial lettuce, you probably just see some rapidly wilting leaves acting in concert to create that inimitable stench that you get from opening the bag. When I look at a bag of commercial lettuce, I remember the time I broke down on some back road in the Central Valley, in 110ºF heat, next to a lettuce field full of migrant workers being paid by the piece. You can't tell me the backbreaking labor involved in large-scale lettuce harvesting is less cruel than overfeeding ducks.

3. Chocolate

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Guess what, Californians? Chocolate doesn't grow here, or in social welfare-oriented northern Europe, or Japan. Chocolate grows in the tropics, where American and European firms compete to see who can get the most cacao beans for the least money--and that means underpaid labor at best and child slave labor at worst. Oh, you don't want to pay for fair-trade chocolate?


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20 comments
Erockv
Erockv

You post links to two blogs as your proof that ducks feel pain like we do? One of which is someone's college term paper. I think you can eat it.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Working hard to produce the foods we eat or sell seems to be an illegal activity in the mind of this story's author.  Perhaps the author should get off his/her pampered tush and do some manual labor on a regular basis.  Hint:  Manual labor doesn't include pounding on the keyboard.

Tqt888
Tqt888

Humans always have a choice. Some choices are just harder to obtain. Some are close to impossible BUT they still have a choice. They still have a chance however slim. Comparing humans to animals is foolish.

Riley
Riley

Peace makes a good point. I wonder if Dave will now boycott Apple products- iPhones, iPads, etc- because of unfair labor and low wages. Conditions were so bad that workers were getting injured and killed. It got so bad that some workers committed suicide because they couldn't stand those conditions anymore.

aileen holmes
aileen holmes

Not to mention the pesticides... The pesticide used on strawberries is methyl iodide, a known neurotoxin. Yikes!

SN
SN

Dave, animals -- including geese -- are sentient beings.  Humans ARE are animals.   Anyway, clouding the issue of animals versus humans really is a waste of time and a useless justification for all sorts of bad behavior and thinking.  it is NOT okay for migrant workers to be out in fields picking for hours on end with no water or shade breaks (see UFW if you'd like to make your voice heard on issues like this).  it is NOT okay for children enslaved to pick cacao beans (look up free trade chocolate brands to support brands which pay fair wages).... etc. as joanna mentions, we have a choice to choose the less cruel option -- for geese or for humans.  and by the way, i think the reason so many people support the ban on foie gras -- who otherwise eat all kinds of meat and animal products -- is because foie gras is expensive and is seen by most people as an elitist and rich-person food.  the same goes with fur versus leather.  fur and foie gras are for the wealthy 1% elite -- and that pisses people off!

Mr. Rosewater
Mr. Rosewater

The more sentience a creature possess, the more pain it can feel; the more pain it can feel, the more delicious it tastes--Pigs scream while lettuce doesn't, and bacon's much more delicious than salad. With these correlations in mind, I can't wait until eating humans become legal since none will lobby on their behalf: Those fuckers fatten themselves

Riley
Riley

With the upcoming ban on foie gras, why are the same people who were supportive of the shark  fin soup ban now the same ones who are up in arms about the foie gras ban? It must be easier to ban a delicacy and tell others what they can and can't eat when you don't care for that delicacy and so that ban wouldn't affect you . Whenever I read anything about the ban on shark fin soup, the writer always made it clear that they didn't understand the appeal of shark fins- they'd always say that the fins taste like nothing even though the shark fin is there for the texture, not the taste. But, if shark fins tasted as wonderfully delicious as foie gras, I wonder how many of those people who supported the ban on shark fins but opposed the ban on foie gras would have still supported that ban on shark fins? To PETA, cutting off the shark's fin and force feeding geese both seem cruel and painful. And, yes, there's the argument about the wasteful and ecological impact about finning sharks  but the PETA extremists blocked any measures that could have addressed those points without completely banning shark fin soup. As this blog point points out, there are other legal foods that are far more harmful and cruel than foie gras just like there are other legal foods that had a far, far hurtful impact on the environment than shark fin soup.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Can you prove they do? In any case, how does any of this excuse the treatment of human workers? So, because this is preferable to lives of unimaginable poverty elsewhere, it's okay to treat them like indentured servants?  

Chom Abc
Chom Abc

So you think that geese cannot feel pain as they are force-fed?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

That would be because humans are sentient and geese are not.

Joanna
Joanna

Just pointing out - humans always have a choice in what they do (whether people like to admit that or not). Force fed geese do not.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

No, SN, geese are not sentient. I'd refer you to the dictionary here. The slaughter of geese wasn't banned, only gavage. It's very easy to imagine a tube going down your throat and then projecting your feelings of discomfort (to say the least) onto a duck. (Incidentally, all American foie gras is made with duck liver). The problem is that you do not have a crop, and ducks do. You have a gag reflex, and ducks do not. (Most animals don't. It's why most animals are susceptible to poisoning.) So pretending that you know what a duck experiences is not valid. Ducks, and all fowl, store excess fat in their livers. Cattle store excess fat as marbling in their muscles. Humans store excess fat subcutaneously (under the skin). Everyone I've talked to who is anti-foie gras talks about ducks and geese who can't walk. That does not happen here. There are three farms (well, two now) producing foie gras in the United States, and they've all been inspected by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to the American Humane Society. The caging and immobile birds? That's not happening here. It would've been just as effective for California to ban the import of foreign foie gras. But no, this happened instead. There's no such thing as cruelty-free food. Even if you plant it yourself you're still getting the seeds from somewhere.

whtabbobs
whtabbobs

Dave, it doesn't excuse the treatment of human workers, is anyone is claiming it does? But everyone picks their causes. Some people fight against republicans, some fight for more ATV trails, some (as you noted) fight for a penny raise for tomato workers, some fight for "no kill" dog shelters, some fight for more assitance for the homeless, and some fight against stuffing food into geese. Saying that people should stop caring about one cause because another cause exists isn't a great argument, different people have different opinions. That's why instead of PETA you can support the UFW.

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