If you ever want to elevate your picnic try try bringing some foie gras mousse. This also applies events like bad movie night, a root canal or 3am at Sick Kids with your wheezing child. I would add doing your taxes to the list, but if you’ve had the discipline to start your taxes you are certainly not going to continue knowing there’s foie gras mousse around.
This particular jar came from La Ferme Basque is Baie-St-Paul where we stopped during our Charlevoix vacation (read about it in the Globe) in August. The woman who runs the operation is from the Basque region of France and makes the foie gras in a traditional way. Even her lilting and soothing french accent could not make “force feeding” sound completely benign…. but it helped.
I suppose had I had serious moral dilemma with the whole thing I wouldn’t be showing you a half-eaten jar. But, at least on a smaller scale using more traditional methods the whole thing sounded more humane. And tasted so good on a baguette.
Near the end of their lives, for four weeks the geese are force-fed corn to fatten their livers (the traditional process is known as gavage). Apparently geese are very social and like to be together (…birds of a feather is so true…) so unlike large industrial producers La Ferme Basque keeps the geese in groups, not seperate cages, so they are less stressed.
Industrial Geese in individual cages:
Goose 1: Hey, did you just have a tube filled with liquid corn and corn syrup shoved down your throat?
Good 2: Yes. Can I sleep beside you?
Goose 1: Impossible.
Small Farm Raised Geese kept in groups:
Goose 1: Hey, did you just have a tube filled with corn kernels shoved down your throat?
Goose 2: Yes. Can I sleep beside you?
Goose 3: Get in line.
Apparently the main reason some geese die because they are overfed. Errrr…OVER over-fed. On this smaller scale there are two or three people who do the feeding twice a day. In traditional “gavage” the same feeders always work with the same geese and they keep a hand at the base of the neck and can tell when it is dangerous to give more food. It varies from goose to goose (I know my limit with gummi bears is 3/4 of a lbs). In industrial production each goose gets the same amount of corn-liquid no matter what their size.
I also did not know that there were specific breeds of geese which were naturally better at digesting. So obviously better for forced gluttony. All in all, the geese are treated humanely (aside from the tube in the throat) and then shipped off to be slaughtered and turned into luxury food.
See–it’s hard to be totally on board when everything you write has to be followed with “aside from the tube in the throat”.
The goose had a great day at the CNE followed by some light tapas and Salsa dancing (aside from the tube in the throat).
The goose loved going on joyrides in the tractor and dancing under the light of a silvery moon (aside from the tube in the throat).
I just don’t know.
Decide for yourself— read this excellent posting about the controversy and the guilt of loving foie from the Guardian UK.