Kinder, Gentler Foie Gras

Meet the "goose whisperer"

By John Capone
|  Friday, Aug 21, 2009  |  Updated 2:32 PM EDT
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Kinder, Gentler Foie Gras

Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Hey, ducky.

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Foie gras doesn't have to hurt. Well, except for the killing geese and ducks, of course, that still happens, but the aspect of manufacture that is most controversial -- the force-feeding of fowl -- may be coming to an end. Locavore hero Dan Barber of Blue Hill in New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester, is one of those championing the kinder-gentler foie gras.

And a man they call, no joking, "the goose whisperer," is behind the ethical movement and methods of more naturally produced goose liver. Eduardo Sousa is free-range farmer in Spain causing a stir. His flock just seems to really like to eat. And his methods go beyond just eliminating la gavage (the nice French word for force-feeding). According to The Daily Green: "When his artisanal foie gras was deemed too dull and gray in comparison to the bright yellow livers of geese raised on force-fed, artificially colored corn, Sousa planted bright orange flowers native to the area around the grounds of his farm. The geese feasted and his blindingly yellow foie gras was born."

And the French should be afraid says Sousa. Their way is coming to an end. Though they viciously attack his product. In fact, when his foie gras won the prestigious Coup de Coeur at the Paris International Food Salon, the franch makers were outraged, demanding that the prize be revoked since, they claimed, Sousa's la gavage-free liver could not accurately be called foie gras. French chefs are known for their cruel streak for a reason, it seems.

Barber, for one, is not among those who think force-feeding defines foie gras, though he does call his early attempts at mimicking Sousa's style "Failed Gras."

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