Bocuse d’Or – Who gets the prize? Not the animals.

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Bocuse d’Or – Who gets the prize? Not the animals.

picture-3Later this month, David Wong, an instructor at Vancouver’s Dubrulle Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Vancouver will be headed off to France to compete in the Bocuse d’Or. I’ve read that it’s like the Olympics of food. Cooking food, not eating it.

While I’m all proud that Vancouver has a shot at sending a winner to the competition, it bothers me how this is yet another opportunity for the world to celebrate the dismemberment of sentient beings. And for what? A prize?

These thoughts are prompted by this article in the Vancouver Sun which ran over the weekend.

Here’s a description of a couple of the dishes Chef Wong is preparing:

In the dying light of 2008, Chef Wong worked out his chops for a group of Vancouver media at Moxie’s Classic Grill on Davie Street, serving an appetizer of Atlantic lobster with foie gras and passion fruit vinaigrette followed by a main course of pork loin wrapped with bacon and vegetable ratatouille.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Poor lobster, though, trapped when he was just out looking for food. After being hauled out of the ocean he got dumped into a tank and flown 3,000 miles to Vancouver. Remember, the Atlantic Ocean is 3,000 miles from Vancouver, which means that a whole lot of fuel had to be used to get that lobster across the continent. That’s a big carbon footprint for a little lobster.

Photo by Grump (from flickr)

Then, to top it all off, he gets killed. Not thwacked over the head or anything “humane” like that. No, he either got tossed into boiling water alive, or he had his body slit down the middle, also while still alive. Chefs like their lobsters to be fresh. That’s why they keep them alive until the very last minute.

Whole Foods Market no longer sells live lobster because of the cruelty involved in keeping them in tanks and boiling them alive.

The foie gras probably came from a duck in Quebec. That’s where almost all of our foie gras comes from. Otherwise it was flown in from France. Talk about a carbon footprint!

The duck who was the original owner of the liver that became the foie gras spent a few months packed in a barn with 2,000 of his closest friends, much like chickens raised to be meat. Packed and fattened.

Then he got hauled into another shed, where he was given his very own little cage, and a nice person came and stuck a pipe down his throat and filled him full of food a couple of times each day for the next two weeks. What could be better than never having to look for food?

Ducks, though, have instincts that tell them to look for food. Under normal conditions, they spend pretty much the whole day wandering around looking for food. They especially like to dabble around the edges of ponds where they can find the best insects and plants to eat. This food searching fills some basic needs for activity.

Oh yeah, they also never get to swim. Ducks who don’t get to swim? There’s something just plain wrong about that alone.

Photo from Farm Sanctuary

The duck stuck in the shed – he can’t go around looking for food or anything else for that matter. He can’t even turn around. I wonder what he does all the time? What TV? I wonder what would happen to my mind if I was caged like that?

The force-feeding goes on for a couple of weeks, until his liver is taking up most of the space inside his body. When they remove it there is a massive cavity and his other organs are packed to the sides.

Whole Foods Market has also stopped selling foie gras. Charlie Trotter and Wolfgang Puck have both decided they don’t want any part of it. Here in Vancouver Pino Posteraro and John Bishop have both stopped serving foie gras, because, well, it’s just plain wrong.

Photo from Farm Sanctuary

The pig whose name got changed to “pork” was raised to get really big, really fast. Because of the way they’ve been bred, they often have joint problems as they get older. Pigs can live to be 15-20 years, at least. This pig was about 6 months old when he got strung up. No point in letting them experience life if they’re just going to end up as food, right? Younger meat is always more tender, anyway.

So, that’s the story of the unwilling participants in this meal. Do I hope it wins? Of course not. I hope that David Wong loses to the surprise vegan chef who wows the French judges with his amazing cruelty-free dishes. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Sorry, I don’t think there will be a happy ending. Some chef will get a lot of praise for “creativity” or even “genius” but a whole lot of innocent animals are going to have to suffer and die so these “artists” can prance about and display their “expertise.”

What a shame.


Alison C.

January 15, 2009 at 6:19 am

Wow, very good op/ed, Glenn. I hope people who read this will be able to understand better the torturous practices that the poor animals have to go through before they are slaughtered to death all for a culinary “prize”.

Raising Duck Liver « Animal Blawg

January 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

[…] This excellent piece on the Bocuse D’Or cooking competition (more or less the cooking Olympics) has […]

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