Why foie gras is one of the most expensive foods on a restaurant menu
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: It’s as expensive as it sounds, foie gras: the fattened liver of a duck or goose. You can find it at fine French restaurants like here at Bistro Pierre Lapin in New York City, and a single appetizer can cost as much as your main course at your average diner.
Harold Moore: I have to forecast for when we’re making the terrines. That’s eight pounds of foie gras. That’s 250 bucks.
Narrator: So why’s foie gras so expensive? First of all, ducks and geese are expensive to raise. Compared to chickens, they take up to two and a half times longer to mature.
Marcus Henley: The capital investment for a foie gras farm for the output is at least two and a half times greater than that for a chicken farm.
Narrator: And then there’s force-feeding, the process that fattens up the liver.
Michaela DeSoucey: The duck is raised as a normal duck, and then for the last two weeks about of its life, two to three weeks, depending on the farm, is force-fed corn and grain through a metal tube a couple of times a day.
Narrator: It requires a ton of feed, as much as four pounds each day, which grows the liver up to 10 times its normal size. Plus, it requires a lot of time.
Henley: During that period of time, you have an enormous, enormous input of labor and costs of labor to grow and produce the finished product.
Narrator: But it’s hard to deny that foie gras is also costly, well, because it’s so controversial. Animal activists say that foie gras is one of the most inhumane meats out there, and while some farmers and some chefs disagree …
Moore: No one is abusing animals at a foie gras farm.
Narrator: The moral debate has put pressure on supply, especially in the US. In fact, there are only three foie gras farms across the entire country, and it doesn’t look like there’ll be more anytime soon.
DeSoucey: Nobody in their right mind would open a foie gras farm. Somebody tried to open a farm in Indiana about a decade ago and quickly decided that they couldn’t handle the political aspect of it.
Narrator: In early 2019, the Supreme Court upheld a foie gras ban in California, which went into effect in 2012. And even in the European Union, which produces 90% of the world’s foie gras, around a dozen countries prohibit force-feeding. Taken all together, that’s why a pound of foie gras can cost as much as $90, and that’s well before it makes it to the plate. Foie gras requires skill to prepare.
Moore: The thing is with foie gras, is that you need to be taught how to handle it.
Narrator: And skilled chefs like Harold tend to run pricey restaurants. Yet another reason why foie gras is so expensive. But still, people are willing to pay the price.
Moore: People love it, like they love, love, love it. That cannot be duplicated in any other way, a texture that is very special.
Narrator: So while foie gras may be controversial, it’s unlikely to be kicked off the menu anytime soon.
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