I was listening to the podcast “Stuff You Should Know” and today I got across their minisode on “Foie Gras”. Here’s my compilation of what I have remembered from them.

Foie Gras literally translates to “fatty liver”. It is made by force-feeding birds (primarily geese) which makes their liver fatty. This is an adaptation those birds developed which helps them store extra energy for their seasonal migrations.

At some point in history, humans figured out that livers with extra fat taste quite different (and tasty to some people). So they started force-feeding geese and presented the dish made from their liver to the local kings. This process of preparation was (and still today is) significantly costlier than regular meat and thus made it popular among people of higher social position as something of a status symbol. Civilisation through civilization it somehow reached France where it got the name we know it today with, Foie Gras.

Now many people are taking a stance against it saying that it is harmful to the birds because their conditions when they are being force-fed are deplorable. Due to such oppositions serving foie gras is on the roadmap to become illegal somewhere around the year 2022 in parts of US. It is already banned in many other countries of the world.

There have even been people bringing their own point that it is not as harmful to birds as it looks. They say that since birds don’t share the same tube between oesophagus and trachea, it (apparently) isn’t as uncomfortable for them to have a pipe shoved down their throat as it is for humans. They even say that birds already have the mechanism in them to handle extra food and being overfed doesn’t bother them that much, that they are just accelerating the process that the birds would have naturally done.

I personally believe that humans can do completely fine without resorting to eat extra fatty liver from birds that have been fed beyond their regular capacity. Feel free to reach out to me to discuss this or anything else under the stars over @varun_barad on Twitter.