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Gary Soup

the ethics of factory farming and foie gras

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And cheese.

 

But I suspect his focus is not really on toxicology but on ethics.

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in the latest nero wolfe i read, 'plot it yourself', nero answers a letter from a woman in nebraska who wonders if a capon can be stuffed like a duck to produce a big liver. archie doesn't give the answer, though. anyone? i would assume not.

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But I suspect his focus is not really on toxicology but on ethics.

I don't wish to put words into his mouth but the phrase "my wife does not have diseased organs on her shopping list, even organs with human-engineered pathological conditions" suggested to me that toxicology or something like it was exactly what Gary was worried about.

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in the latest nero wolfe i read, 'plot it yourself', nero answers a letter from a woman in nebraska who wonders if a capon can be stuffed like a duck to produce a big liver. archie doesn't give the answer, though. anyone? i would assume not.

Migratory birds like geese fatten up before migration for obvious reasons and much of that fat is stored in their livers. I don't think that chickens are migratory so probably not.

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Gary - so you're saying that it's fine with you to buy and eat pig that has been tortured to get to you, but it's not fine to buy and eat foie that has been produced by tortured ducks?

I'm not sure what you are defining as "torture" but the pigs we eat (or at least the parts that get to us) contain no organs with obvious pathological conditions, intended or unintended.

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it should have been:

 

Pfui, migratory birds like geese fatten up before migration for obvious reasons and much of that fat is stored in their livers.

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the arguments seem to usually proceed along one or both of these lines:

 

1. foie gras production is unnatural

2. foie gras production is cruel in very specific ways

 

i'm not particularly interested in the first point, not, at least, from the point of view of tampering with biology. i do think, however, that the pro-foie lobby should look for better arguments than "the ducks' livers would expand similarly in the wild if they ate as much". yes, and calves in the wild would also be as tender if they also chose to live in tiny boxes.

 

so my resistance comes from the second point. now, i eat my share of factory farmed meat--though i am trying to reduce it as much as i can--and so i suppose my qualms about foie gras production are yet more proof of my general hypocrisy and intellectual inconsistency (see also my qualms about furcoats, while wearing leather and suede products). but the consistency argument falls down at some point, as, presumably, there may be folks who eat only humanely produced meat who are opposed to current foie gras production methods. nor is the argument that all meat eating is harmful to animals ("we kill them, duh") very interesting since it does not follow that if we have animals killed for food that we not care what happens to them first.

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Gary -  so you're saying that it's fine with you to buy and eat pig that has been tortured to get to you, but it's not fine to buy and eat foie that has been produced by tortured ducks?

I'm not sure what you are defining as "torture" but the pigs we eat (or at least the parts that get to us) contain no organs with obvious pathological conditions, intended or unintended.

When you eat fish, do you check whether they were suffering from any pathological condition?

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2. foie gras production is cruel in very specific ways

such as?

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To Rancho's point earlier - he is saying that the treatment of factory farmed pigs is far worse than the treatment of foie-producing fowl.

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I'm sure Gary also avoids late harvest wines and any type of bread (which as we all know is wheat flour that's been infected with yeast)

Heck, I even eat water bamboo that has had its stalks bloated by a deliberate infestation with wild rice smut. It's delicious. But it doesn't answer to the name of "Wilbur" or "Donald."

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I was out visiting my friend, Jim, at TLC (Tastes Like Chicken) Ranch recently. He had ten baby pigs, and was showing us how they root around in the dirt. They're quite efficient little diggers, and have pretty great lives on the ranch. He said something that didn't register immediately with me: "To think that people are raising them on concrete." A few seconds later, it sunk in: he meant raising pigs on concrete instead of outdoors on good, clean and grass.

 

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Because this guy is one of my heroes, what he says carries a greater weight with me than, say, someone who isn't doing the kind of hard work he does. Watching him with all his animals made me see what treating animals well, feeding them healthy food in open air, and caring for them is worth.

 

He is having to do battle with certain kinds of certification, such as not being allowed to sell his animals to restaurants because they're not slaughtered at a USDA facility. But he said, "To do that, I'd have to load them into a truck, and drive them five hours, which would instantly start a decline in their health from the stress. And then I'd have to go back in two weeks, in a hired truck with refrigeration, to bring them back to sell. That's not good for the environment, either. Here, they're happy until the minute I scoop them up."

 

Recently, the Cornucopia Institute, a watchdog group for small farms (family-scale), issued a report on so-called "organic milk" producers, and gave out scorecards. I wrote about it on my blog. The range in ethics is vast. From the report:

"Some of the larger farms sell off all of their calves at birth and buy conventional replacement heifers at approximately one year of age.  This saves them the expense of feeding the calves organic feed for the full two years of their lives prior to their entering the milking line.  This is a huge cost savings move for industrial-scale operators. In addition, it also avoids the higher-cost and more challenging management of caring for young calves without the “crutch” of antibiotics (dairy cattle are typically about two years old when they complete their first reproductive cycle and began their first lactation). 

 

"The routine use of conventional replacement animals places ethical, sustainable organic producers at a distinct competitive disadvantage."

 

Large-scale "organic" factory farms are undermining the purity and the trust of the whole organic concept, and it's a bajillion dollar business.

 

I personally do not believe that people who have 5000 cows on a concrete lot should be allowed to call themselves "organic," no matter what they're feeding those cows. I will also post a link here to CertifiedHumane.org's list of restaurants and producers who are committed to humane animal raising and handling.

 

Why on God's green earth would Rancho Gordo have anything against people raising chickens or pigs or tarantulas or giraffes? :P

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2. foie gras production is cruel in very specific ways

such as?

 

the force feeding via tubes.

 

omni, i don't eat factory farmed pork. all my pork purchases are from a local small farmer. so, that point is not particularly relevant to me. i could similarly cut out factory farmed chicken and beef (am almost there with the latter). that line of argumentation is not very sound, i'm afraid. you might expose individual opponents' levels of hypocrisy but that doesn't say anything about the actual practices being discussed.

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