What happened to the geese from my down comforter?
November 9, 2012 9:32 AM   Subscribe

As I lay underneath my goose down comforter, I wondered what happened to the geese?

There seem to be a great many goose down filled garments and bedding articles out there. As I was laying under my goose down comforter last night I found myself idly wondering what happens to the geese themselves? There seems to be many more down items on the market than the available goose meat in my grocer's meat case would explain. I don't think they're "shorn" like sheep, and goose hunting doesn't seem to be a likely explanation.

Maybe that's what the cat food flavor "Super Supper" is made out of?

Isn't goose supposed to be good eats?
posted by Brooklyn_Jake to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some down is harvested from live geese -- plucked rather than shorn, and probably a hell of a lot more painful than sheep shearing -- and some down is harvested from geese raised as foie gras or goose meat.

Some companies that use down will refuse to use live-plucked down for cruelty reasons, but how evil it is depends on whether you ask PETA (horribly, horribly cruel) or the down industry (we do it when they were molting anyway and it's so gentle it's like a mother's kiss on her baby's chest)
posted by jacquilynne at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

According to this (sales) page:
Most of the goose down harvested for commercial use is a by-product of geese that have been harvested for food. In fact, the practice of "live harvesting" or plucking down from living geese is now illegal in the United States and most of Europe because it has been demonstrated to be cruel to the geese.
posted by bcwinters at 9:45 AM on November 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Thank you! I will sleep much more soundly, and hopefully not dream of avian torture.
posted by Brooklyn_Jake at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2012

However, check the tag on your comforter--it could be assembled in the US, but the down could be from another country where live-plucking is legal and common. It's very difficult to ascertain the sources of components unless you buy from a company that has a public commitment to avoid such things.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recall seeing a documentary years ago about how eider down is harvested. The eider duck either sheds (through a miracle of evolution) or plucks downy feathers to line the nest where the eggs will be incubated. The film footage of people taking the down from the nest and replacing it with a synthetic but equally warm material was quite amusing. Bottom line, though, was that nobody plucked the duck and the eggs were just fine. Totally humane.
posted by DrGail at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2012

Our ducks lose pretty large amounts of down on a daily basis. I've often wondered if it would be worth collecting and cleaning. Even if it's possible though, obviously it's pretty dubious that's what's going on in your case.
posted by waldo at 1:52 PM on November 9, 2012

Goose (and, one supposes, Gander) is good eats, but it's more difficult to prepare than chicken, duck, or pretty much any other common eatin' fowl, because it's got loads of insulating fat that needs to either be rendered off or scraped/sliced/snipped off.

That said, goose fat, like duck fat, is liquid gold (well, it's solid gold at room temp) -- ideal for confit (meat cooked in fat at low temperature, not deep-fat-fryin' temperature-- this is both a meal prep method as well as a pre-tech method of airless food storage), and also outstanding for deep-frying. Goosefat French Fries.... I have no words.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:58 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If anyone is looking for an alternative to a down comforter that's more, uh, vegetarian, you should try SILK. I have a silk stuffed one -- it's cool in the summer, toasty in the winter, super thin and lightweight. I know, the poor l'il silkworms... But still, better than bird.
posted by custard heart at 8:01 PM on November 10, 2012

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