Over cooked Shark’s fin and Foie Gras anyone?

November 17th, 2013 | Posted by Gregoire Michaud in Daily life...

“I’m FINinshed with fins”, the campaign launched by National Geographic and other WWF organism rides the wave right on its edge. Gordon Ramsay, followed by Joel Robuchon are them “finished with goose liver”,riding another wave of massively media exposed animal welfare, but what about other animals? Vegetables? Flour?

Tiger Shark (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Making delicious mille-feuille and eclairs brought me to the four corners of the world. One of the place I came to fall in love with was like nothing on Earth. Indeed… because it was dozens of meters below sea level.It’s during my employment in the Maldives, where I obtained my Rescue Diver license, that countless dives opened my eyes on a new universe with many creatures the silent world is home to, notably sharks, but also giant turtles, century old Napoleon fishes, schools of hunters barracuda, manta ray and many other unbelievable creatures like the gigantic honeycomb moray eel boasting a head the size of a Labrador dog, and witnessing my friend having his bare hand “smelled” by the eel, and later to see him caress the animal like a dog; simply stunning! While diving with sharks, we once spotted a pregnant shark – we had to stay away because they were very defensive. But wow! What a beautiful demonstration! It’s like swimming in your own TV filled with water, while tuned on Discovery Channel!

A while ago, I applauded the move of The Peninsula Hotels to ban Shark’s fin from their menu on a group level, sending a shock wave throughout any organization related to the precious goods. Such a shock wave, that many hotels, restaurant and other catering institutions banned it from their menu too. Also, recently, we saw the Chinese Government banning shark’s fin from their State banquet menus – WOW! But then again, between what official bodies and other corporate are announcing in the media and the actual truth there is still a wide gap – and trust me, I know the truth inside out! Days ago, Gordon Ramsay, followed by Joel Robuchon dropped the use of foie gras from a certain supplier due to cruelty to animals. (although they’ve built the last 20 more years of fame on these very same produces… awkward or better late than never?)

From my point of view, I find the situation very awkward as we seem to be the dog trying to bite our own tail. The issue of shark’s fin for example is being ultra exposed in the media (and now foie gras), people and organisations are creating protest, clubs (which I support by the way) and so on to stop its consumption. Why awkward you’ll ask? Well, for example, Kobe beef in some farms in Japan knows a similar problem, except that their growth is being monitored in horrible vertical farms and boosted with hormones to the point where the cows can’t even stand on their own feet! They suffer from arthritis, sleep in their own manure and have countless other health problems. Yes that’s the beef you had at that new super trendy restaurant last night…  No one questions beef, because their genetically modified organism can take antibiotics and hormones very well. And this is is just one case out of a million others… I don’t even talk about the alien fruits and vegetables the evil Monsanto corporation is pushing through our veins. Or should I start to talk about the chickens fast food chains are using? And hey! because a chickens runs outside for 10 minutes a day it is legal to call it free range – wicked, isn’t it?

Whilst those animals are being intensively farmed, the farming of shark is a whole different story. A shark will need at least 10 years before it can have its first offspring and the reproduction rate is very low. Plus, to obtain reasonable size fin, people should have to wait way too long in views of the market demand. Thus, commercial shark’s farm don’t exist yet… they only exist in computer games.

Your Kobe beef at vertical horror farm

While shark farming still a very unlikely possibility in the near future because of it’s very long ROI incubation, I think that reducing shark’s fin consumption is the way to go. Also, if the shark was used entirely and not only for its fins, then it would be a different story altogether, but it’s mostly not… I am also being realistic and think that before this part of the world completely stops consuming shark’s fin, many years will pass. Unless of course, if the government passes laws banning and controlling its consumption (which I doubt they will anytime soon too).

I am not questioning the principle of animal right, which I am all in favor of. But foie gras and shark’s fin are being painted on the wall of shame; media-exposed chefs are riding the wave saying they drop it. So when are we going to see beef, chicken and pork painted on the same wall of shame?

Food for thoughts! 

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  • Angie_L

    >> So when are we going to see beef, chicken and pork painted on the same wall of shame? >>

    Well said, Chef!

    Who has the right to decide the fate and destiny of poultry, hog and cow? Are they born to
    be food on the table?
    Banning the possession and consumption of shark’s fin is also a controversial issue in some cities in Canada. Our City Bylaw Council shelves push for the ban, not only because of cultural factors, it is very difficult to actually regulate and enforce the Bylaw.
    Last of all, I’d like to clarify that I’m not a fan of shark’s Fin Soup or Foie Gras because
    they aren’t cheap to me. :)

    • http://gregoiremichaud.com Gregoire Michaud

      I agree with you Angie, there are a lot of lobbyist that will make sure these foods are not moving away from the table. As soon as money is involved, ethics disappear! :)

  • maharbbal

    government banning stuff people are ready to pay good money for sounds like a great idea, ivory, drugs and 1920s prohibition are totally supporting your point!

    • http://gregoiremichaud.com Gregoire Michaud

      Indeed… then according to you, perhaps we should also sell weapons, drug and ivory freely in supermarket so people can spend good money?

      • maharbbal

        my point was that however appealing a quick legal fix can seem it rarely does work. Consumption goes underground, prices shoot up and production/poaching spreads and often becomes more violent. In other words, a complete catastrophe.
        I don’t have a perfect answer and I doubt there is one. I guess it has to come from the ground up. For instance with people like you speaking out or actively shunning your colleagues that still use products that you regard as unethical. Peer pressure works well usually. Posters with big words and naked models are also a favorite of mine… just a suggestion, chef.

        • http://gregoiremichaud.com Gregoire Michaud

          I very much agree with what you say. I definitely know that trying to completely prohibit anything always ends up in mayhem. History tells as a matter of fact, just like you said.

          Naked models fighting for animal fur is definitely a strong statement indeed! ;)

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