The building housing the ducks in this lush region of the Catskills in upstate Sullivan County was huge, a cross between a gigantic Quonset hut and an airplane hangar. The ducks, tens of thousands of them ready to be slaughtered for foie gras, were stuffed and listless in their pens. It was a very weird scene. Genetically unable to quack, the ducks moved very little and made hardly any noise.
Animal-rights advocates have made a big deal about the way the ducks are force-fed to produce the enormously swollen livers from which the foie gras is made. But I've been looking at the plight of the underpaid, overworked and often gruesomely exploited farmworkers who feed and otherwise care for the ducks. Their lives are hard.
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