Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ducks and geese in double jeopardy

Today’s “lesson,” for those who swear by down comforters and jackets and booties: “How is down obtained?” Information comes from Ingrid Newkirk’s The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights, c. 2009.

“Typically, ducks and geese are lifted by their necks, their legs are tied, and their feathers are ripped out. The struggling birds often sustain injuries during plucking. They are then returned to their cages until they are ready to be plucked again. This process begins at about nine weeks of age and occurs every six weeks until the birds go to slaughter.

“Feathers are often plucked out of ducks and geese who are raised for food. Those raised for foie gras, especially, suffer terribly in other ways too. These birds are force-fed up to six times a day with a funnel that is inserted into their throats, and up to six pounds of a salty, fatty corn mash is pumped into each bird’s stomach each day – until the birds’ livers have ballooned to many times their normal size.“

Do restaurateurs who serve foie gras know of this process? or want to know? Do those behind the pretty catalogs about gracious living, advertising luxurious down comforters, know about the “lives” of ducks and geese whose feathers are their main materials?

Ironically, Newkirk continues, “Synthetic alternatives to down are not only cruelty-free, but they are also cheaper and, unlike down, retain their insulating capabilities in all weather conditions.”

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