DawnWatch: NY Times on foie gras — plus veal letters — 4/25/07

April 29th, 2007 10:19 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Apr 25, 2007 11:56 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times on foie gras — plus veal letters — 4/25/07

There is a half-page story about foie gras in the Dining section (Pg F9) of the Wednesday, April 25, New York Times. The article, by Juliet Glass, is headed, “Foie Gras Makers Struggle to Please Critics and Chefs.”

It opens:

“Tom Brock produces foie gras at a Southern California farm, but even he used to feel squeamish when he had to force-feed the geese with an 8- to 10-inch steel tube to fatten their livers.

”’I used the traditional tube, and force-fed the traditional way,’ Mr. Brock said, ‘and it was the single most unpleasant experience of my life.’

“So he bought a feeding machine that a Hungarian goose farmer had recently invented in his garage workshop. It has a soft rubber tube that Mr. Brock says has been much gentler on his animals.

“It may make the birds, and Mr. Brock, feel better. But yet to be seen is whether it will please the animal rights activists who helped California enact a law that will ban foie gras starting in 2012, got Chicago to outlaw the sale of foie gras last year and are threatening similar action in other parts of the country.

“Mr. Brock and other producers in the United States and Europe have been trying to find ways to make foie gras that will overcome the objections of those who see their work as an act of cruelty while still pleasing chefs and connoisseurs.

“But unlike producers of beef, pork and chicken, who can respond to criticism of their practices by returning to kinder, preindustrial methods of raising cattle, pigs and chickens, foie gras producers have no such bucolic past to fall back on. Since the time of ancient Egyptians, making foie gras has involved doing something unnatural to ducks or geese: fattening their livers by force-feeding them, typically, nowadays, for the last 12 to 21 days of their lives.”

We read about a Spanish company, Pateria de Sousa, who won a culinary trade show award in Paris last October for pate made entirely from livers of geese that “it said had not been force-fed”.

But we read that “some in the industry doubt Pateria’s claims.”

About the device noted at the top of the story, we read:

“The machine has a rubber tube that can be as short as six inches long and that is flexible enough to wrap around a finger. It has a mechanism to prevent the bird from getting more feed than its gizzard can hold.”

Brock says that not a single one of 642 geese he force fed with the machine last winter was sickened or injured during force-feeding. Those in the foie gras industry are hoping the machine will help prove that producing foie gras does not have to be cruel. But HSUS’s Paul Shapiro is quoted. He says:

”Is a soft rubber tube better than a hard tube? Maybe, but you are missing the point. You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease.”

You’ll find the full article on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/25/dining/25foie.html.

The piece presents a great opportunity for letters to the editor about the way human society treats animals raised for food. Those on plant-based diets can help spread the good word.

The New York Times takes letters at letters [at] nytimes.com.

Always include your full name, address, and phone number.

Also in today’s Dining Section, are four terrific letters in response to last week’s article headed, “Veal to Love, Without the Guilt.” I send a huge thank you to everybody who wrote. Even if your letter wasn’t published, it helped demonstrate reader interest in the topic, which led to a sampling of letters being printed. And the interest shown will lead to future coverage of animal protection issues — coverage like today’s discussion of foie gras, which opens the door for more letters!

Check these out, printed today, in response to last week’s article:

April 25, 2007
Letters
Second Thoughts About Veal

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To the Editor:

Re “Veal to Love, Without the Guilt” (April 18):

This article’s claims of livestock reform are admirable, but I think we could be missing the point here. Even the headline suggests that we feel guilty only about the way these animals are raised, turning a blind eye to another very real horror: the killing and processing that follows.

Why did those images of “formula-fed veal calves tethered in crates” affect us so much? They took away the abstraction that is inherent in our consumption practices. We no longer saw these abstract gray slabs at the meat counter; we saw the animals from which this material came, and that made a world of difference.

The article’s rather pastoral images of calves grazing, “mingling” with other calves or with their mothers, are all well and good, but this isn’t a Bambi story.

If the article went on to describe the slaughter and processing of these animals, the techniques used and the volumes at which they are processed, that old guilt would come pouring back.

If it’s being completely “guilt-free” we’re after, there’s really only one solution: to stop eating meat altogether.

RICHARD DI SANTO
Toronto

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To the Editor:

I was raised on a farm and yes, veal is divine. But it still involves the killing of an innocent and emotional animal. Anyone working with animals, even young ones, soon discovers they have emotions as humans do. We would take young calves away from their mothers after three days. It was sad to see the mother cow be by herself for days afterward, not eating much, and staying near the last place she was with her baby. This is just one of many incidents about animals and their feelings. If human meat-eaters would see this side of animals, they would give up meat.

DEBBIE COOPHAM
Portland, Ore.

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To the Editor:

I would like to thank you for writing the article called “Veal to Love, Without the Guilt.” It is encouraging to be reminded that people really do care about how animals are treated, as was mentioned in the article about the decline in popularity of veal after people learned how the calves were treated. I hope this article raised questions in people’s minds about how we arrive at other animal products that we consume/use (besides veal).

AMY STRIBULA
Rocky River, Ohio

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To the Editor:

There is no such thing as guilt-free veal. Cows give milk to feed calves, not humans. They are artificially impregnated so that they will produce a constant supply of milk. Their babies are taken away and killed for veal, and their milk is sold in supermarkets. When cows are no longer able to produce much milk, they are slaughtered — just like their babies.

The whole process is cruel and traumatic for the cows and the calves.

ELAINE SLOAN
New York

(End of NY Times veal letters)

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

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