This week in Omnivorous, I talk with Trib entertainment reporter Mark Caro about his book The Foie Gras Wars. During his research Caro visited some ten foie gras farms and interviewed activists, politicians, and chefs on all sides of the issue. He says he was constantly asked where he stood.

“I think that it’s gonna be analyzed a lot in terms of how am I biased and which side is it ultimately on?” he told me. “Everyone always asks me ‘Which side are you on?’ The whole reason this is interesting to me is that I think both sides make valid points. The fact is that I have eaten foie gras and I eat meat. To some people that would automatically show which side I’m on. But everyone tries to walk this careful path, and it’s really hard to be consistent about anything. 

“I think it’s easy to come out of this more sympathetic with the foie gras farmers to the extent that you realize how easy it is to paint them as animal torturers by sort of selectively showing the stuff that’s on YouTube. If you go into any farm operation with many thousands of animals you probably can find sick animals and say, ‘Well this means that you shouldn’t eat this animal.’

“I try to sort of get at this argument and say, well, look, let’s put this in some context here: if you argue that being a Tyson’s chicken is worse than being a foie gras duck—which I don’t know definitively but people certainly argue that—does that mean it’s OK to put a tube down a duck’s throat? Well, not necessarily. Just because you can make a relative argument that it’s not fair doesn’t mean that something is absolutely good or absolutely bad. I thought that the Chicago law came up lacking because it was putting itself forward–the statement on cruelty–but it was so selectively enforced. It was only about foie gras but it wasn’t about anything else.”

If you’ve made up your mind on the pro-foie side there are 11 spots that serve it in the listings.