The south-west of France has long been associated with foie gras. Small family farms would produce high quality foie gras to supply the top restaurants in the cities. The traditions and practices of these farms were well respected and the quality of their product was a great source of pride. The belief being that a healthy duck produces a healthy liver and therefore makes better foie gras.
However, traditional, artisan values and high profits don’t always go hand in hand and in the mid-1980s, a small farm tradition became an industry. The production process was sped up, the space was cut down and the end result was a tasteless pâté that could be made and sold across China, America and Europe for less than half the price of a tin from a traditional producer like Lafitte.
For a handful of producers like Lafitte, the quality of their foie gras is still a source of pride and they continue to work to the same traditional principles that made foie gras such a delicacy centuries ago. These producers form the Comité Renaissance, members of which are committed to honouring the traditions and methods of their craft.
The differences between the foie gras of Lafitte and more industrial producers is vast. Far from the dark, cramped conditions we are led to believe all ducks and geese suffer at the hands of foie gras producers, Lafitte ducks roam and feed freely on the farm for the duration of their lives with plenty of spacious shelter.
‘Gavaging’ is an age old technique that has its origins in ancient Egypt, when the fattened livers of migratory birds were considered a delicacy. This process, when done respectfully, consists of the bird being held firmly and 1 cup of cooked, quality grain poured down the gullet, replicating the gorging process that takes place amongst migratory birds before travel. It is a painless procedure as the neck of a duck is lined with tough cartilage, no nerve endings and is designed to expand.
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