Today in the special "eating well while eating green" edition of the New York Times food section, discussion of a new kind of more ethical foie gras.

One company even claims to have figured out the circumstances in which geese conveniently turn their own livers into foie gras voluntarily when let to "roam freely and gorge on grass, acorns, figs and lupines in the Extremadura region of Spain." Industry experts are skeptical.

But many producers are turning to more humane 6-inch flexible rubber tubes (instead of the traditional 8 to 10 inch steel tube) to make force-feeding less uncomfortable and less damaging to the health of the geese overall:

Using the new machine and his version of the feeding method, [foie gras farmer Tom] Brock raised more than 642 geese last fall. He said that not a single bird was sickened or injured during force-feeding. He plans to raise 12,000 this year.

As usual, animal cruelty activists refuse to give more than ultra-grudging credit for small but significant advances:

“Is a soft rubber tube better than a hard tube?” said Paul Shapiro, director of the factory farming campaign of the Humane Society of the United States, one of the groups that pushed for the California bill [banning foie gras]. “Maybe, but you are missing the point. You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease.”

More on foie gras bans in Chicago and California here.