Industry lies

The facts

Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG) is notorious not only for animal cruelty, but also for polluting the environment with its massive factory farms, and exploiting and abusing the roughly 300 undocumented workers who live in squalid labor camps there.

In a promotional Anthony Bourdain video, the ducks can be seen huddling away from the force feeder, while the pen always keeps them within arm's length. The audio at the end is then doctored to make it sound like the ducks are happily quacking, when they are actually panting, an abnormal indicator of distress. This breed of ducks does not quack. To further dispel the myth that ducks and geese enjoy being force fed, please read this article from The Atlantic.

The Better Business Bureau has found the claims made by HVFG and their paid consultant Lawrence Bartoff to constitute false advertising. The few other farms that produce foie gras are no better.

In a rare moment of candor, HVFG co-owner Michael Ginor had this to say to a reporter in 2009: "There's no question that the duck on day 28 of feeding is not as happy as a duck that hasn't been fed...I felt like I was never 100-percent wholesome with it in the sense that I think you can't be 100-percent wholesome with it...I understand the issues. I partially agree with the issues."

Sonoma Foie Gras

"To feed the ducks, a sitting worker grasps the bird's head and inserts about 10 inches of pipe down its neck. An overhead funnel connected to the pipe pumps in a dose of corn mush, creating a golf ball-sized bulge as it goes down."--Michelle Locke, Associated Press, as seen in USA Today, "Foie Gras Turns Activists' Stomachs"

Excerpts from the New York Times, "Foie Gras Fracas: Haute Cuisine Meets the Duck Liberators" by reporter Patricia Leigh Brown, on what Sonoma Foie Gras showed her inside their farm:

"Young ducks — whose beak tips are clipped...are confined...eight to an elevated pen, in a huge shed.... Some standing water on the shed's floor, deep enough to suggest a drainage problem, gave off the foul smell of droppings.

"During that time they are force-fed twice a day by a feeder, who uses an 8 to 10 inch steel pipe attached by a long hose to a hydraulic machine that resembles a vacuum cleaner in reverse, drawing from a vat of corn meal mush.The feeder, Jorge Vargas, inserted the metal tube down a duck's esophagus, electronically administering the 10- to 12-ounce dose, about two-thirds of a tall soda-fountain glass, in four seconds.

"The ducks who had been force-fed twice a day for two weeks, their livers swelling from one-third of a pound to one and a half pounds, were so fat they moved little and panted. The birds gain an average of seven pounds in two weeks....Weak or injured ducks have their necks broken."

Excerpts from "Activists Seek Ban on Force-Feeding," by reporter Derek J. Moore, Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

"An overpowering stench greets visitors entering a cavernous Central Valley shed, far from the fancy restaurants where foie gras is served as a prized delicacy.

"Inside, dim light illuminates wooden pens where 2,000 ducks are force-fed cornmeal mush twice daily to fatten them for slaughter....

"Some die from heart failure as a result of the feeding, [Eric Delmas, manager of Sonoma Foie Gras] said, or from choking when they regurgitate....

"Outside the sheds, white smoke from an incinerator where dead ducks are placed after they are collected each morning billowed into the Central Valley sky."