But consider this, written by Lawrence Downes in the NYT:
To animal welfare groups, the obscenity of force-feeding, known by the French word gavage, is self-evident. But Mr. Ginor and his partner Izzy Yanay, who runs [the country's leading foie gras producing] farm, accuse their critics of anthropomorphism and ignorance of duck anatomy and behavior. They say the practice is as benign as it is ancient, since waterfowl lack a gag reflex and have sturdy throats that easily tolerate grains, grit, stones and inflexible gavage tubes. To understand gavage, they say, is to accept it - as they insist poultry researchers have, after examining birds for signs of undue stress and suffering during gavage and finding none.Downes compares the ducks' interests to the interests of the farm workers: "175 people, mostly Latino immigrants [many of whom] live in trailers on the grounds and worship in a tiny chapel of crepe-paper streamers and candles in a corner of a warehouse." He also notes that their are far more brutal things going on in the production of the ordinary beef, pork, and chicken that most of us eat. We focus on the bizarre and not the ordinary, however, and deliberately producing an enlarged liver seems pretty bizarre. And most of us don't eat foie gras, so opposing it is a sacrifice-free virtue. I don't know if Downes is a shill for the foie gras industry, but it's obviously important to get all the facts and think straight about these issues.
I visited Hudson Valley Foie Gras last week, seeing gavage for the first time. I saw no pain or panic in Mr. Yanay's ducks, no quacking or frenzied flapping in the cool, dimly lighted open pens where a young woman with a gavage funnel did her work. The birds submitted matter-of-factly to a 15-inch tube inserted down the throat for about three seconds, delivering about a cup of corn pellets.
The practice, done three times a day for a month, followed by slaughter, seemed neither particularly gentle nor particularly rough. It was unnerving to see the tube going down, and late-stage ducks waddling bulkily in their pens, but no more so than watching the epic gorging at the all-you-can-eat buffet at Shoney's, where morbid obesity is achieved voluntarily, with knife and fork.