In the United States alone, over 8 Billion (with a B!) chickens are consumed every year. Chickens are the undisputed king of commercial poultry, but there are other poultry species too, including geese. So what’s the story with geese? Are they edible too?
Goose meat is edible, although it’s not eaten as much as chicken due to the costs involved. According to the USDA, the average American eats less than 6 ounces of goose meat every year.
In this article, we’ll look at what goose meat is like, why it’s not eaten as much as other poultry, the legality of eating goose meat (sometimes it’s illegal!), and cover the controversial topic of foie gras and what it is.
Is Goose Meat Edible?
Yes, goose meat is edible, although it’s generally not as desirable as chicken or other poultry, since it’s fatty and expensive.
Goose meat is traditionally eaten at Christmas in the UK and North America and is used heavily in Cantonese cuisine.
In addition to goose meat, goose fat is often used as an ingredient in other meals because it has a very high smoking point compared to other oils and fats, making it especially useful for roasting.
What Does Goose Meat Taste Like?
Goose meat is stronger than other poultry and tastes gamier than both chicken and Turkey. Some people say goose meat can taste like beef, but in my opinion, goose tastes very similar to duck.
This difference in flavor comes from the typical behavior and anatomy of each bird. Geese are birds of flight (unlike chickens), so the meat tastes like other birds of flight including duck, pheasant, and grouse.
Read More: Are Duck – Goose Hybrids Possible?
Since geese spend so much time in the air, their breast muscles are very strong compared to other poultry that spends most of their time on the ground.
You can see this effect in action even with chickens. Chickens rarely fly, so their breast meat is white and lean. Since chickens spend so long on the ground, they have stronger leg muscles which can be seen in the darker meat in chicken legs.
Is Foie Gras Goose Meat?
Foie gras is not meat, but it is a meat-derived product. Its usually made from the diseased liver or a duck or goose, which has been intentionally diseased and has swelled to an unnatural size.
Foie Gras is French and translates roughly as “fatty liver”. The process used to intentionally damage the liver is called gavage (force-feeding) and is banned in many countries due to the four-week-long torture of geese or ducks required to achieve the desired swelling.
Why Is Goose Meat So Fatty?
Geese have evolved to be fattier than chickens and other poultry. The thick layer of fat under their skin has three main uses, detailed below.
Geese spend up to 1500 miles continuously flying without stopping every year. In order for them to be able to sustain themselves during their incredible migration flights, they need large fat reserves that they can draw on to maintain enough energy for the duration.
In addition, goose fat helps them remain more buoyant, which is important for all waterfowl, allowing them to float on top of the water while reaching down under the surface to eat the aquatic plants and weeds they live off.
Read More: Are Geese Herbivores?
Finally, the thick layer of subcutaneous fat that geese have helps to protect them from the cold. Geese tend to sleep outside (sometimes in the water or while flying!) so they don’t have a warm nest to keep themselves comfortable.
Is Eating Goose Meat Illegal?
There’s nothing inherently illegal about eating goose meat. You can buy goose meat in many supermarkets and it’s commonly eaten across the world, however, there are some situations where specific species of geese are illegal to hunt, sell, or eat.
In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to hunt geese outside of the designated hunting season.
In the US, Canada, Russia, and Japan, this is covered by the Migratory Bird International Treaty.
Similar protections exist in Europe (Wild Birds Directive 1981) and the UK (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).
Other than illegal hunting, there are many countries and states that also ban the production of foie gras due to animal welfare.
Foie Gras production is banned in the UK, Germany, Poland, Italy, Australia, India, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Israel, Czechia, Argentina, and the state of California.
It’s worth noting that with a few exceptions such as India, foie gras can still be imported to these countries.
Is Goose Meat Healthy?
According to the Canadian Northwest Territories Health Dept, goose meat is rich in several nutrients, including Omega-6, Magnesium, Potassium, Protein, Iron, Omega-3, and B Vitamins.
According to the British Poultry Council, although goose fat is fattier than other poultry, modern goose meat has less fat than both lamb and beef.
In addition, goose fat is mostly comprised of essential mono-unsaturated fats, which are useful for preventing heart disease, reducing inflammation, and reducing cholesterol. The fat found in goose fat is approximately 60% monounsaturated fats.
To sum up, goose meat is edible but it’s not as popular as other poultry like chicken or turkey.
Compared to chicken or turkey, goose meat is much darker and fattier like other gamey birds of flight, including duck, pheasant, and grouse.
As well as goose meat, goose fat, eggs, and liver (foie gras) are sometimes eaten by themselves or as an ingredient in other recipes.
In spite of the high fat content, goose fat is made up mostly of monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for humans.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.