We recognise that foie gras is considered by some to be inhumane. We also recognise that there are many thousands of people who still wish to purchase this luxurious food that has been enjoyed for centuries, and it is a traditional part of the gastronomic heritage of France and other countries.
At Dukeshill we go to great lengths to ensure that the foie gras we sell is produced as humanely as possible. There are some shocking images online which show animals being treated barbarically on unregulated farms; ours is produced in the UK, but using livers produced on a farm in the Vendée region of France. The ducks used are free range, and are not kept in cages.
Ducks and geese are both reared for the production of foie gras. The rearing method makes use of the birds' natural ability to store large amounts of fat in their liver as an energy source for long migrations at high altitude. During gavage, when the birds are fed grain and water via a tube (the grain is not forced into their stomach, but is placed into their "crop" - an organ designed to act as a reservoir of food prior to digestion (equivalent to a pelican's beak!), the liver lays down a large quantity of fat, and increases in size. This fattening of the liver is not a "disease" like cirrhosis, but a natural and completely reversible process. It has been shown that if feeding returns to normal, the liver quickly shrinks back to its normal size. The slim plastic tube used for feeding the mixture of barley and water includes a second air tube so that breathing is not impeded - there is no "gagging" involved during feeding. The birds enjoy a completely free range life, and the gavage itself only takes place in the 10 days prior to slaughter. The meat, feathers, fat and other parts of the goose are still used in the same way as non force-fed goose.
We realise that this is an emotive subject, however it is worth bearing in mind that a lot of the goose fat and duck fat being sold are simply by-products of the same process, but are widely consumed without arousing the same passions.