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In The Family
Why Is Foie Gras So Expensive?

Liver is a notoriously cheap cut, so why do geese get all the golden eggs?

Liver is cheap. Historically, it’s the cut you eat when you can’t afford the better stuff. And while some people have a deep taste for it, there’s a reason you can buy a pound of chicken livers for a couple dollars, and a calf’s liver is a fraction of the price of its loin. Then there’s foie gras, the unctuous and ethically debated goose liver, practically an icon of aristocratic eating. But foie gras isn’t simply goose liver; it’s the fatty liver from geese that are gorged on fat-producing foods before they’re slaughtered, so as to enrich its flavor and texture to near butter-like highs.

Regardless of your feelings on this force-feeding, called gavage in the industry, it’s unquestionably an expensive process that adds substantial feed and labor costs to the livestock owner. It’s that labor cost—coupled with a limited supply of fatty livers for the market—that makes foie gras so pricey.

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.