Sustainable Farming: Chef Dan Barber's Foie Gras Parable

August 16, 2011

Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York recently presented for TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) on the subject of foie gras and sustainable farming practices. Foie gras, illegal in several states, has been shunned as unsustainable, unethical and downright cruel. Why? Foie gras, duck or goose liver, is harvested by force feeding geese more grain over the course of a few weeks than they would normally eat in a lifetime, causing their liver to swell up to 8 times its normal size -- cruel and unusual for sure. But foie gras is such of great importance to the culinary world and is steeped in tradition.

So what to do? Edouardo Sousa, a Spanish farmer who lives 50 miles from Seville just on the Portugese border, has made foie gras sustainable. Instead of force feeding his geese, Sousa's family (beginning in 1812!) wait until the weather cools off and the geese naturally begin to gorge on grains (to prepare for the scarcity of food over the winter) and are free to roam his farm the rest of the year. No forcefeeding, no industrial farming practices, no problem right? Well you may be wondering how this affects the quality of the foie gras - the answer? Sousa won a gold medal at the Coup de Coeur -- the Olympics of food -- to great controversy. Check out the video for the rest of the story!

 

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