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Lab-Grown Foie Gras Receives French Government Support, Tastes Delicious

The fatty delicacy is facing an existential crisis of ethical proportions. Could the cultured-meat industry revive its fortunes?

Gourmey fried foie gras.

Gourmey fried foie gras.

Photographer: Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg

Few foods are simultaneously able to raise feelings of delight and repulsion quite as deftly as foie gras. A fatty duck or goose liver that’s so buttery it’s both delicate and rich, foie gras is considered by many as one of the most luxurious foods. In France its consumption is a ritual deeply rooted in the country’s tradition and culture—no holiday, from Christmas to Bastille Day, is complete without it. But its decadence makes the brutality of how it’s farmed all the more acute: A controversial process known as gavage, where birds are force-fed several times a day through metal tubes until their livers swell, is often considered savage.

Animal welfare concerns have spurred more than a dozen countries to ban production. Next year, New York City will follow California in outlawing sales at restaurants, while the U.K. is mulling an import ban. Even in France, a YouGov poll shows that some three-quarters of people say they would prefer the delicacy sans gavage if they had the choice.