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Foie gras without force-feeding?

Meat alternatives to foie gras

Foie gras without force-feeding

There are at least two productions of foie gras without force-feeding based on goose livers:

  • The foie gras of Eduardo Sousa, an organic farm in the south of Spain, whose geese feed freely according to a natural physiological mechanism in migratory birds. It should be noted that this breeder received the prize for the best foie gras in 2006 at the International Food Show in Paris, ahead of the foie gras obtained by force-feeding.

  • The foie gras of Gioachino Palestro, a breeder from the town of Mortara in northern Italy, is also made without force-feeding, as this is also forbidden in Italy. He lets his geese freely eat the corn and figs he gives them. He takes six weeks to fatten the animals, compared to two weeks in the industry.

They raise the birds for a longer period by feeding them high-energy feed (maize and figs). The livers obtained are not as big as industrial foie gras, but they are then mixed with goose fat to give a preparation that looks like foie gras.

Because of the length of time it takes to mature, the selling price of this type of foie gras is much higher than industrial foie gras.

The particular case of foie gras without force-feeding from Aviwell

Aviwell is a French start-up that is developing goose foie gras without force-feeding using a special process. They have noticed that what makes goose livers fatten just before migration is linked to the presence of the intestinal flora normally inherited from the mother of the goslings during the first weeks of life. Aviwell's researchers use this characteristic. They give the goslings selected bacteria and keep them in a controlled environment during the first weeks to promote the establishment of this specific intestinal flora. Then, the rest of the rearing process is done without any particular constraint or, of course, force-feeding: the bacteria do the work at the given time.

They can thus obtain organic goose foie gras, because it is obtained without force-feeding and the geese are fed with organic feed.

Meat recipes for faux gras

In the same way that there are plant-based alternatives to foie gras, it is possible to make meat alternatives to foie gras.

For example, Philippe Ligron, a famous TV presenter from the French-speaking of Switzerland and spokesman for the Nestlé Alimentarium in Vevey, developed a recipe based on lard (pork fat) a recipe based on lard (pork fat) some time ago in his programme What the fork? . It would seem that the result has nothing to envy to the foie gras from force-feeding.

Our thoughts on these meat alternatives

One liver, one life

The success of foie gras is above all due to its taste and its image as a refined and luxurious product. On the other hand, its consumption is very seasonal, during the holiday season, which adds an exceptional and prestigious aspect.

Gustatively, it is a product with a fairly fine texture and the very fatty side makes it very palatable and satisfying.

Dead for foie gras

However, it must be remembered that to obtain the livers, the birds must be killed . In addition to force-feeding, slaughter is an obligatory stage in the production of foie gras.

Does a fleeting pleasure justify this violence?

Other products cooked finely and without killing any sentient being (i.e. roughly speaking, sensitive and conscious) can provide a similar gustatory pleasure. The recipes are numerous.

Taste depends on culture and emotional investment and can be educated. We have proof of this here in Switzerland, where the German-speaking population is avoiding foie gras, not finding it as good as the producers suggest and finding the way birds are treated disgusting.

Cellular foie gras

As with other meat dishes, there are start-ups developing cellular foie gras, i.e. made from cell cultures.

We know of at least two start-ups that make cellular foie gras:

  • Gourmey, in France,

  • Peace of meat, in Belgium.

Cellular foie gras Gourmey

The process can be considered ethical, as no animals are exploited in this process. The only time it takes place is at the beginning when a few cells are taken from it, which can be done without pain, by retrieving a feather, for example (Gourmey uses egg cells).

Thanks to modern cell biology processes, researchers are able to transform these first cells into stem cells which can then become any type of animal cell, for example liver cells.

From there, these new liver cells are fed and cultivated to produce foie gras. The process is still under development and start-ups promise the first cellular foie gras for the next few years.

Let's hope, for the many ducks that undergo the force-feeding process, that the result will live up to the expectations of consumers of industrial foie gras.

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