The foie gras is generally acknowledged to be a luxury food, a gourmet product, designed to please the finest palate.
It was at the time of the pharaohs that the Egyptians would have been attracted by the liver of geese stopping at the banks of the Nile, in winter, during migration. Hunted at this time of year, they unveiled a fattened liver in preparation for the trip. Some species of migratory geese and ducks ingest indeed a sufficient volume of food to enable them to face this spectacular trip.
A hypertrophy of this organ occurs only twice a year. Liver lovers wanted to artificially reproduce the conditions of their livestock to provide them with a similar product. The Romans are known for popularizing the food, so they force-fed geese with boiled figs.
Today, in factory bird farms designed to produce foie gras, geese and ducks are force-fed daily in a cruel way. More than once a day, these creatures are forced to ingest quantities of food that can amount to about one third of their body weight. The food is inserted inside a metal tube that is rammed in their throat to the stomach.
This unintentional ingestion of such quantities of food sometimes explode their bodies, their liver can swell to the point where it reaches a size about ten times bigger than normal. The birds struggle to do the most natural and essential things such as breathing and walking. Some were found drowned in their own vomit, because the gavage can overwhelm them to the point where they suffocate. Others struggle with injuries caused by the harsh conditions of farming: perforation of the neck, wing sores, diarrhea, diseases of the digestive tract, etc.
At the age of twelve weeks, geese and ducks make their way to farms. Since only the male liver is used, thousands of young ducks are killed. These sensitive beings will spend the last two to three weeks of their lives locked inside tiny cages where even turning around is impossible. Besides being cruel, this industry can cause environmental and agricultural impacts (for example: manure management). Moreover, ten kilograms of grain that is required to feed these birds could be directly integrated into the human diet, a useless and expensive transformation into energy.
In 2006, the Montreal-based organization Global Action Network (GAN) conducted an undercover investigation at Elevages Perigord, Canada's largest farm breeding of birds for foie gras production. On the website of the Quebec organization, it is written: "The video evidence shows a significant number of violations of provisions relating to the welfare of animals in the Criminal Code of Canada and the Act Meat Inspection in 1990. The investigator filmed while the slaughterhouse staff tore the head off of live ducks, crushed them on the walls and floors, or cut the throats of the fully aware ducks. The ducklings were crushed or suffocated to death in garbage bags and other ducklings were left to freeze to death in minus 20 degrees metal bins. "
In collaboration with Farm Sanctuary, Global Action Network has also investigated another Quebec company, the Farm Fields Élisé. Several other acts of cruelty were also reported. Similar investigations in the United States, particularly for farms in the Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York and Sonoma Foie Gras in California, have also announced similar cruel conditions. There, investigators found several open sores on birds, eye infections so serious that it was difficult to see where the eyes of the birds were eaten, other birds eaten by rats while they were still alive, some even covered with vomit.
Force-feeding birds fattened for foie gras production causes a disease: hepatic steatosis. According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, in humans, the disease results from the accumulation of fat in liver cells. Fatty liver is usually diagnosed when the fat is between 5 and 10% of the liver. This condition can result in obesity, poor diet, genetic factors, ingestion of drugs or chemicals (eg alcohol), etc...
In migratory birds, fatty liver is a natural consequence of the phenomenon of Zugunruhe (German, zug for movement, migration; Unruhe to worry or anxiety). Linked to the hormonal system, itself dependent on the weather guiding migration, this condition summarizes the feelings of anxiety experienced by migratory birds for their trip. They then eat more than usual in order to create a reserve. This higher consumption of food causes the liver hypertrophy.
However, this natural phenomenon can be compared to modern farming conditions. First, some of the species used by farms, including Muscovy ducks and mules, are non-migratory species (no particular predisposition for hypertrophy of the liver). Moreover, food distributed to bird farms has resulted in corn mixed with other grains and is generally deficient compared to the more varied natural diet of ducks and geese. Furthermore, before migration, birds do not gorge at the point of not being able to fly! They simply ingest enough food to ensure a reserve enabling them to complete a long journey. This ingestion is not imposed by using a metal tool abruptly inserted in the throat to the stomach.
Not to mention the cruelty we inflict our own body through the ingestion of food by heat, high salt and high cholesterol.
Throughout the world, groups are mobilizing to ban this cruel food. Veterinarians, politicians, businessmen, farmers, restaurateurs, and several communities support these initiatives.
Today, the laws of these countries implicitly or explicitly prohibit the production and / or sale of foie gras, Israel, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and South Africa. Some states, like California, have also opted for more compassionate policies and banned the production and / or sale of foie gras on their territory. Cities such as Chicago have also followed suit with similar initiatives.
In Canada, a multitude of restaurants have also chosen to no longer offer this product to their customers. Click here for a list of these companies.
The SPA Canada maintains information kiosks to expose the cruelty inherent in farm production of foie gras;
The SPA Canada participates in undercover investigations to expose the cruelty of the farms. Two of the founding members of our organization have also infiltrated into two of the three largest farms and slaughterhouses in America related to the production of foie gras. The atrocities filmed there were then revealed to the media.
In summary, the SPA Canada campaign against foie gras is evidenced by: