Foie Freedom

foie grasA note on a card at Harpoon Bay Restaurant in Warwick, NY

A note about foie gras:
(“fwa grah”)

Foie gras has had a great deal of undeserved bad press over the past few years. Some animal rights groups, who may be well intended, but are regrettably misinformed , fail to differentiate between the horrendous pneumatic force-feeding of ducks on industrial farms and the humane, traditional hand-feeding of ducks, practiced since Pharonic times, which emulates the way the mother duck feeds her young, by disgorgement.

This confusion and misunderstanding has led to impending foie gras bans in New York and California. The foie gras served here was humanely produced by Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, NY. Chef Denis hopes that you will enjoy this traditional food now, and savor its memory if misguided lawmakers succeed in denying you the freedom to taste it again.

[via curdnerd - Huey, Dewey, and Louie]

Can you label one and not the other?

mcdonaldsYes it’s restaurants like McDonald’s and their super-smiley I’m Loving It campaigns that lure in the masses and fatten them up, but is making them slap up calorie counts and nutritional information just because they’re large, easy to hit targets, fair?

Certainly I’m no fan of large scale chain restaurants but these types of menu labeling laws really annoy me. It’s an unfair tipping of the scales and especially so considering that any one of the multi-course meals you or I might eat at our favorite restaurants gives a #2 Extra Value Meal the nutritional win on virtually every level.

After chain restaurants have spent millions on new menus courtesy of an influx of legislation nationwide as these laws filter inland from San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, it will be interesting to see the wide-gaping jaws of starry-eyed dietitians like, Elizabeth Bailey, when they see that obesity more than likely continued to rise anyway.

Sure “behavior change takes awhile,” as she said in the article, but it’s not good enough to put up calorie counts, fat contents, and sodium information on menus under the misguided assumption that it is the panacea to the obesity epidemic.
She can offer up stellar sound-bytes like:

“If you get that information about a hamburger, it might not change your choice then. But the next time you’ll remember, three months later you might not get the hamburger,”

…and she can even choose to believe them, but we’ve all seen the guy that thinks a salad is healthy just because it’s a salad before dousing it with 4 tablespoons of a creamy buttermilk blue.

The truth is that the majority of Americans have absolutely no idea what those numbers mean in the first place or how they fit into a balanced diet. Until proper education and a ballpark figure for what a person should be consuming are given to Americans the menu information is basically useless, and even if someday those obstacles have been cleared, no matter how much people might hate restaurants like McDonald’s and all that they represent, it’s still not fair to single out one menu over another strictly based on the cash flow of a multi-unit operation.

I don’t even see how it’s legal.

  McDonald’s Cheeseburger 3oz Foie Gras
Total Fat (g) 12 37.2
Saturated Fat (g) 6 12.3
Trans Fat (g) 0.5 0
Cholesterol (mg) 40 126
Sodium (g) 750 591
Carbohydrates (g) 33 3.9
Dietary Fiber (g) 2 0
Protein (g) 15 9.6

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In Defense of Ian

An open letter to Kimberly McClelland

I am in constant shock that foie gras raises so much attention.

With the CAFO feedlots of Iowa filled with hogs bread specifically for their docility and stupidity so they do not eat the nubs of each others tails while going mad, if the true goal was to save animals from torture, it is only flawed logic that would make foie gras the number one target of groups like PETA. At the end of the day foie gras is a niche industry that represents an incredibly small percentage of total animals slaughtered each year.

Showing only the most horrific of scenarios, you can choose to live a sheltered life in which only the most terrifying activists tactics send you into a frenzy, or you can be well informed and see that at least at the number one producer of foie gras in America, ducks are treated with the utmost respect.

Bob DelGrosso visited Hudson Valley Foie Gras last year, and having spoken to other people who have visited, not only did he write a truly acurate account about what goes on there, he took photos documenting every step of the process from hatchling to slaughter.

From their well built waste management facility, to the handling of the ducks, to the space that they are provided compared to say a Tyson chicken, Hudson Valley puts almost every major producer of commercial meat to shame.

There is a good and bad side to all meat production and it is important that people choose their battles wisely so that those animals that truly need protection from inhumane practices can be spared.

If on the other hand you do not eat meat of any kind, as none of this will mean a thing to you, you can feel free to send me hate mail as well.

How Much Foie Gras…

foie

This is completely random, but while I was out running today I was thinking about how horribly high in fat and as a result calories a lot of gourmet foods are. Specifically I was thinking of foie gras — something that has to be towards the top — and just how many pounds of foie I could consume if I went on the all foie gras diet.

When I got home I realized that my total yearly running mileage after today’s run is exactly 2200 miles — exactly 50 miles per week on average.

So with a convenient number to multiply by, I turned to this Runner’s World article which is generally considered to be one of the most accurate in regards to calories burned walking/running for my baseline.

It’s actually a great article and one worth mentioning. A lot of people think that the number of calories you burn running and walking are precisely the same, but that’s actually not the case. While walking a few miles is obviously better than nothing, studies show that effort does, in fact, matter.

I bring it up because people will see some astronomical figure when they use a treadmill, elliptical machine, etc. and think they’ve burned that many calories. The reality is that they didn’t burn as many calories as the machine said they did as the simple act of you just sitting their reading this burns some calories. What you see on those machines is gross calorie loss, and what you need to concern yourself with in weight loss, or simply maintaining weight, is net calorie loss.

Basically the article says you burn ~ .63 x weight per mile of running vs .30 x weight per mile of walking.

One of the most disappointing things in all of this is that the more you do any activity, the more efficient your body becomes, and as a result, you don’t actually burn as many calories as you once did — so you have to go even further or longer.

But anyway, at the end of the day, my personal net burn per mile is about 100 calories.

So, just how much foie gras will I get to consume on the all foie diet?

At 130 calories per ounce, I can eat 105 pounds. Awesome!

Blogs: Chefs > Food Ethics > Farmers

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Not that I want you scurrying away from my site, but I recently added a few blogs to my RSS feeds and thought a few were worth mentioning:

Line Cook was started recently by the obvious: a line cook. He lives in San Francisco and I find it pretty interesting. I especially like his Plate Up posts where he shows step by step photos of the changing foie gras torchon plate ups where he works

Shuna Fish Lydon, also from San Francisco has one of the most beautifully verbose chef run blogs around — Eggbeater. I’d read her posts on opening a restaurant a few months ago, but hadn’t virtually earmarked it at the time. I’ve corrected that mistake now.

Stepping away from San Fran, I somehow overlooked that former Philly underground restaurant chef Shola Olunloyo had started a blog under the same name, Studio Kitchen.

An American in Paris, Daniel Rose, detailed the opening of his restaurant Spring in Paris. It was incredibly interesting until the posts stopped in late August, but the backlog is recommended for sure. I suspect the reason for nothing new is his success.

Moving away from chef blogs…

Law For Food has been talking a lot about Foie Gras recently. I like Foie Gras as you’ve seen, so I’ve followed this story closely through each years twists and turns and wear my shirt with unabashed pride.

Chews Wise “aims to shine a light on the food system and discuss where our food comes from and what we really want to eat.”

Last, there’s a new favorite, The Ethicurean which aside from this great article about Alice Waters , of whom you may offensively find out I am not a fan, led me to another new blog Edible Nation and this post about young famers in which they say:

“With no offense intended to my spunky, fiftysomething parents and their baby boomer friends, U.S. farmers are getting old. The national average has climbed to 55.3 years as of the last agricultural census in 2002 (the 2007 census is currently underway), and the trend is ever upward.”

If you read that and think “who cares,” then you need to seriously consider where your food will be coming from if all the U.S. farmers are gone.