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An Apology for Foie Gras December 16, 2010

Posted by Jason in Uncategorized.
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Serious Eats, a food blog, has put together a considered examination of the ethics of foie gras. I had always been content to let my moral intuition decide that this particular practice was decadent and cruel, but I see now that I was guilty of anthropomorphizing the ducks.

Humans have a single passageway leading from their mouth down into their neck. From there, it divides into the esophagus, which leads to the stomach, and the trachea, which leads to the lungs. Separating these two passages is a little flap of muscle called the epiglottis. Try to force something past the epiglottis, and you trigger a gag reaction. It’s intended to make sure that the wrong things don’t end up in your stomach.Ducks, on the other hand, have completely independent tracheas and esophagi. Their esophagus goes straight from the mouth to the crop, while the trachea runs from the lungs and out the end of the tongue. That’s right: Ducks breathe through their tongues. The cartilage that surrounds their trachea (called the tracheal ring) is also a complete circle, as opposed to ours, which is C-shaped, making their trachea much sturdier and less prone to collapse. What this means is that you can place a feeding tube in a ducks throat, and it can sit there indefinitely, neither gagging, nor suffocating.

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Credit: Julia

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