I sometimes forget the disconnect. The packages that contain our store brought sustenance don’t tell the whole story. The butcher at the supermarket is just a guy behind the glass case. The animal could have been butchered anywhere. The “organic” label has a list of qualifications that change daily. The misinformation age is full of citizens who now get their facts from Wikipedias and Urban Dictionaries.
I tire of seeing articles about foie gras bans turn into discussion of ducks nailed to the floor and force fed. I am sure there are horrible farmers out there. There are also farmers who still care about the animals and the earth that provide our food.
The words “Hudson Valley Foie Gras” have appeared on many menus at restaurants I have visited over the years. I never knew much more about them except that they are held in high regard for their quality. In order to learn more about the process of producing foie , I wanted to go to the source.
Just over three and a half hours away in Ferndale, NY HVFG is a 200 acre farm that raises Moulard ducks. They sell not only foie gras, but duck breast and other assorted duck products. I was lead on my tour of the farm by HVFG’s Marketing Director Rick Bishop. This was not a ‘white glove tour”. There were no parts of production hidden from us. I saw it all from the adorable little ducks roaming around the barns to the gavage process. I stood in the room where the ducks are butchered for meat and also in the packing area of the facilities.There were no nailed feet. When Hudson Valley says they have “cage free” foie gras you can believe them. In addition to the work that HVFG had been doing on there own there has also been outside help.
There has been continued work with the help of a humane auditor to continue making the raising of these ducks as natural as possible. If you do not meat I am sure you can find issue with animals being killed for food. If you do eat meat I think it is important to think about where your food comes from. I personally like to buy from farmers markets as much as possible and to buy from producers who run operations where respect for the animals is of utmost importance.
Visits to HVFG have even been successful in converting some former opponents of foie gras. Several supporters of bills to ban foie in different cities and states across America have changed their minds. A few have even changed sides and become allied with HVFG. I left with a further respect for farmers in general and desire to visit more farms in the future. I also though about having a pet duck because the little ones were so cute. I now am going to follow my food to one of its many destinations, a restaurant in Manhattan.
The Skinny Fat Kid
Hudson Valley Foie Gras
80 Brooks Road, Ferndale, NY