I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of foie gras. Part of my job requires that I generally eat what is put in front of me, and I’ll eat the stuff if I have to, but it’s never something that I’ll make an effort to search out.
Despite having an opinion on just about everything else, I actually have no opinion on the issues surrounding foie gras production. On the one hand, it seems weird and cruel, but on the other, those duckies sure do come running at dinnertime. I figure it can’t be any worse than the conditions that most of the western world’s meat is produced in, so any issue I have with fois gras would be more to do with farms that are more of a factory setting instead of a happy organic free-range kind of place.
Peta has recently issued a challenge to chefs to come up with a “faux gras” product, offering a $10,000 prize to the recipe that most closely resembles the real thing. Now sure, it’s Peta, and they can’t let it go without getting in a few jabs, calling foie gras the “delicacy of despair”, but the reaction to the contest has been just as childish.
San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino, who, to be fair, keeps a blog called Offal Good, seems particularly put out by the contest and what he perceives it could mean for foie gras producers…
I have attached the rules and regulations to the contest, seeing as its such a great opportunity to stop such a tasty historical food from existing. So stay the fuck out of my stomach. Don’t worry folks the poor bastard who puts their name on this Faux Gras will go down in infamy.
But I think Cosentino is being a bit short-sighted. As a former vegetarian, I’ll be the first to admit that Peta often fails at delivering their message with too many over the top stunts (remember the fuss over the billboard of Rudy Giuliani and the “Got prostate cancer” message?). They turn off people who might otherwise support their cause because of how they do things.
We also know that Peta hasn’t yet converted the majority of the population to a vegetarian diet, and it’s pretty much a given that, barring some huge disaster, this will never happen. So why would Cosentino think for a second that it would cause people to stop eating real foie gras?
There are plenty of faux meat products out there. Some of them are freakishly realistic (and tasty), others not so much. Why not a faux gras? It’ll never gain widespread acceptance and replace the real stuff (which is Peta’s wish and Cosentino’s fear), even if somebody can come up with a great facsimile. But it will offer a product alternative to those customers who won’t eat foie gras for ethical reasons but who might still enjoy eating the stuff otherwise.
If this faux gras product converts a few real foie lovers, that’s not such a bad thing (for the duck, or them), but I can’t see it taking over the world and causing the shutdown of foie gras production. But maybe I’m too optimistic – because Cosentino sure does seem scared that the faux fois is going to oust his beloved liver from its high status and ruin the world for everyone.