Duck still on the menu despite bird flu

Four generations of the Cabanne family from La Ferme du Foie Gras, including Joël (blue and white shirt), brother Benoît (red checked shirt) and grandmother. inset: Thierry Tribier, a duck farmer from the Dordogne

Jane Hanks visits duck farms in Landes and Dordogne to hear how breeders are coping after the 2016 bird flu outbreak and mass cull

Raising ducks and producing foie gras and related products is an inherent part of French culture. In the South West in particular, you cannot travel far without pass-ing a sign directing you to a farm where you can buy foie gras or eat at a restaurant which doesn’t have at least one, but usually most of its menu made up of at least one duck related element.

France is the second producer in the world for ducks and number one in Europe. Most are raised in the South West in a region which stretches from Périgord to the Pyrénées and from Landes through to Gers. The most important department is Landes, where 25% of France’s ducks are farmed. Alsace, Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Normandy also have a long tradition.

In France ducks are raised for foie gras, magret de canard, confit de canard, aiguillettes, pâtés and rillettes and all of these products come from a bird which has undergone the “gavage”, been force fed. Only a very, very, few are sold to produce eggs or meat for roasting. Only male ducks are used for the gavage.

Rafael Prévot from the Maison du Palmipède, an association of professionals, which promotes foie gras for the Landes, says that the ...

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