Who cares about foie gras? As it turns out, many do. In the last decade, this French delicacy—the fattened liver of ducks or geese that have been force-fed through a tube—has been at the center of contentious battles between animal rights activists, artisanal farmers, industry groups, politicians, chefs, and foodies. In Contested Tastes, Michaela DeSoucey takes us to farms, restaurants, protests, and political hearings in both the United States and France to reveal why people care so passionately about foie gras––and why we should care too.
Bringing together fieldwork, interviews, and materials from archives and the media on both sides of the Atlantic, DeSoucey offers a compelling look at the moral arguments and provocative actions of pro- and anti-foie gras forces. She combines personal stories with fair-minded analysis of the social contexts within which foie gras is loved and loathed. From the barns of rural southwest France and the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels, to exclusive New York City kitchens and the government offices of Chicago, DeSoucey demonstrates that the debates over foie gras involve heated and controversial politics. Her rich and nuanced account draws our attention to the cultural dynamics of markets, the multivocal nature of "gastropolitics," and the complexities of what it means to identify as a "moral" eater in today's food world.
Investigating the causes and consequences of the foie gras wars, Contested Tastes illuminates the social significance of food and taste in the twenty-first century.
Michaela DeSoucey is assistant professor of sociology at North Carolina State University.
"In Contested Tastes, we find not just detailed casestudies, but an overview of contemporary food politics which challenges assertions about what we have on our plates and why it matters."--George Berridge, Times Literary Supplement
"Contested Tastes takes a deep dive into the gastropolitics of foie gras. Whether or not you approve of eating it, you will want to read this riveting case study of how fights among stakeholders--producers and eaters of fatty duck liver, of course, but also animal welfare advocates, chefs, and government officials--reflect larger issues of national identity, class, economic markets, and who decides what we have for dinner."--Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)
"Michaela DeSoucey may know more than anyone on the planet does not just about the traditional French delicacy foie gras, but also about the sociological and political forces that shape how we interact with food. Contested Tastes is a fascinating read with implications that go far beyond the ethics of fat duck livers."--Mark Caro, author of The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight
"Why did foie gras become in the 2000s the focus of impassioned debates about food politics? Not only is DeSoucey's search for the answer--amongst activists, chefs, producers, journalists, and government officials on both sides of the Atlantic--an engaging story, it also provides an invaluable template for thinking about gastropolitics more broadly."--Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 What Can We Learn from Liver? 1
Chapter 2 Vive le Foie Gras! 27
Chapter 3 Gastronationalism on the Ground 66
Chapter 4 Foiehibition110
Chapter 5 The Paradox of Perspective 147
Chapter 6 Conclusion 195