Thezone along the Pacific Northwest Coast of the United States is hometo many Indian nations whose source of livelihood was mainlyconcentrated on the exploitation and utilization of the coastal andriver ecological resources. Thus, the native Indians located herebuilt huge canoes to hunt deep sea mammals the gray whale being themost preferred. One of the most legendary whale-hunting Indian tribesis the Makah, located in the present-day Washington. For the Makahtribe, the entire process of whale hunting provides benefits to theentire society. The Makah whaling tradition provides the society withsinew, meat, oil, bone, and gut for storage containers. To get readyfor the whale hunt, the whalers would first go by themselves toritualistically fast, pray, and bathe. Each whaler had to find hisown place, perform his own sacraments, and sought his own divinepower. While whalers were preparing for the hunt with prayers andfasting, their wives also prepared for the hunt with purificationceremonies back at the village.
Aftera successful hunt, the whale would then be towed ashore where waitingvillagers would be taking part in songs and ceremonies to welcome thespirit of the whale and thank it for “giving itself” to thecommunity. Once the welcoming ceremony was over, the harpooner wouldthen cut the whale into pieces that were divided among all themembers of the community. In addition to dining on the whale meat,some of the Makah families would also use different body parts of thewhale, like bones for instance, in other traditional family rituals.From this point of perspective, I am of the opinion that the Makahwhaling rituals are more than just a food and dining culture. Aboveand beyond providing nutritious food in the form of meat (foodculture), the whaling rituals are spiritual in nature (spiritualculture). Considering that whaling embraces fasting, praying, andpurification, I now understand why the whale is such an importantpart of the Makah culture. I believe that through whaling, the Makahpeople get the opportunity to resuscitate their spirituality throughprayer, fasting, and purification rituals which implies that thewhale is an important part of the Makah culture! To the extent that Ican discern, there are no foods in my culture that have such greatsignificance.
Thesecond part of this paper is my response to a speech by Dan Barberentitled, “Afoie gras parable.”I am confident to say that Barber’s video completely changed myperception about foie gras. Beforehand, if you were to ask me what Ithought about foie gras, all I would tell you was spices, pepper,salt, and oil. However, after watching Dan’s speech, I now have acompletely different perception of foie gras. In his video, Dan istalking about his trip to Spain, where he had the best foie gras ofhis life prepared by Mr. Eduardo Sousa. Different from geese gavagefeeding, Mr. Sousa is engaging in what he refers to as “naturalfoie gras.” In other words, Mr. Sousa is engaging in no gavagefeeding, no geese cruelty, no forced feeding, and no factory-likeconditions. Instead of forcefully shoving a ton of grain down thethroat of his geese, Mr. Sousa lets his cheese have what they wantwhen they want. Even if his geese are enclosed in what Mr. Sousacalls a “Garden of Eden,” they are at liberty to consume thefigs, wild plants, seeds, and vegetation within their tiny enclosure.
Asa result of the uncontrolled feeding procedures, the geese feed onseeds, figs, and plants that make their foie gras turn yellow whichis a sign of high quality. Therefore, Mr. Sousa does not need spiceson his foie gras because his geese have already gorged on hispotpourri of herbs and flavors available in their enclosure. Thething that struck me the most with how the pate is produced by Mr.Sousa is how after harvesting the foie gras, he sticks the livers ina jar and seasons them with no pepper, spices, or oil. The mostimportant lesson from Eduardo’s methods regarding sustainability infood production is that we should develop a new conception ofagriculture. Per se, we should turn to nature for solutions toproblems and not impose solutions on nature. Just the way Mr. Sousaturns to ecological foods for a perfect foie gras, farmers shouldrely on nature for solutions, stop animal forced feeding, gavagefeeding, animal cruelty, and end the imposition of factory-likeconditions. Once this is achieved, then food production will besustainable in the contemporary society.