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  • Manny

    you know what the core the this debate is… We only want to save the cute animals. A young baby cow or a duck/goose is much cuter than a full grown cow or chciken.
    In all seriousness, I think that the ban of foie gras is wrong, not so much on ethics in terms of what is being done to the ducks. I just hate to think that Big Brother is telling me what I can and can’t eat. You just get on a slippery slope after that. It is the same reason I oppose the ban on smoking in bars. Oh, an I am a non smoker. People have a right to smoke. People who don’t like it have a right not to be in the same place. People have a right to eat whatever they want, be that force fed duck liver or caged chicken eggs, or penned up calf meat. If you don’t like the way the animal was kept, then don’t eat it. Don’t impose your views on me.

  • Steve

    ntsc:

    In nature, animals eat at their own leisure. Cows eat silage at their own leisure. Foie gras ducks (or geese) do not eat at their own leisure. Seems pretty logical to me.

    Also, human teeth are actually more similar to herbivore teeth than carnivore teeth. We definitely fall more on the herbivorous end of the omnivore spectrum, as opposed to, say, dogs, which are far closer to the carnivorous end.

    While many anti-foie people focus in on the act of gavage, I actually tend to avoid that issue. In fact, what scientific evidence is available supports the notion that the birds are NOT in fact stressed out by the feedings. The sketchy part is the actual process of liver enlargement. It occurs to a much greater degree than what is seen naturally in migratory birds, and the foie gras ducks are in fact close to death by liver failure when they are slaughtered.

  • faustianbargain

    ntsc..not everyone who isnt a carnivore/omnivore indulges in soy.

    see..my point is not whether people should or shouldnt meat. it isnt about whether the consumption of foie gras should or shouldnt be legislated. the answer to that is very clear, i think. food choices/personal preferences should NOT be legislated.

    what irks me is this brainwashed belief that a cruel practice is seen as a ‘spa treatment’ for ducks. this is nothing but propoganda spread by the foie gras industry itself.

    once again, i am not saying that our meat comes from torturing/imprisoning/killing other living beings. a lot of us are ok with it because it serves our nutritional/hedonistic requirements.

    all i am saying is that desensitisation of society towards what is essentially cruelty towards another creature is wrong on so many levels. it deceives our inborn empathy. it makes us less human. altho’ i realise that ‘human qualities’ are not flattering attributes anymore.

    i dont think people should dictate to others that foie gras is off limits because forcefeeding is cruel. but at the same time, i am not sure i am want to stand by to witness the perpetuation of the lie that forcefeeding is not a cruel treatment of the duck. that foie gras farms are ‘club med’ to the ducks. this myth blinds our innate sense that recognises ‘right vs wrong’…what is acceptable or not….

    we decide how far we are willing to exploit others for our needs. for some its eggs and milk. for others its conscious eating with as little as they need. for others its no to foie gras and veal. honesty does little to temper that guilty pleasure, gluttony. but for the sake of those for whom it matters, i think the lie that foie gras ducks live in ‘club med’/duck spa needs to be tackled.

  • ntsc

    Oh, and if you want to know what the duck feels like, go take a cruise on a four or five star liner.

  • ntsc

    How putting silage out for cattle in winter is more unnatural than sticking a tube down a duck is not something that can be explained with logic.

    I don’t even think there is a significant degree of difference.

    Any feeding of an animal is unnatural, but then so is cultivating grain.

    I also eat oyters on the half shell and have been known in the past to boil lobster alive. I don’t do that anymore, I drive a chef’s knife into the head first. It tastes better.

    You are an omnivore with heavy carnivor tendencies. Open your mouth and look in a mirror. Those teeth aren’t just meant to deal with soy.

  • faustianbargain

    is it easier to enjoy foie gras when you think that they live and die in a ‘duck spa’ as opposed to knowing that they are forcefed?

    just asking.

  • ntsc

    I certainly can’t comment on other schools, but CIA certainly stocks fois gras ( I recently had a tour of their store rooms – two of us were trying to figure out how to ‘borrow’ a whole half veal) and it has always been on the menu any time I’ve eaten at American Bountry. One has to assume that the students have some prior experience with it.

    I’m trying to work up the courage to buy one and experiment.

    As to the force feeding, as somebody has said: “This is club med for ducks.”

  • Steve

    Natalie, foie gras was first discovered (as far as we know) by the ancient Egyptians, most likely when they happened to slaughter a goose that was about to migrate. Once they figured out that the geese eat a lot before migration too, they decided, hey, let’s see what happens if we just force feed the fuckers until they die! And voila! Foie gras is born!

    And of course, gavage does not mimic natural migratory gorging, since birds don’t run around looking for big feeding tubes to stick down their throat. They just eat a lot.

    Oh, and you really should try it. It’s truly one of the greatest things you’ll ever taste. Then swear it off forever.

  • CarolinaGirl

    Great point, Ed. The yield is not conducive to demos and with the seeming shortage of those of us who see tv studios as places where they do the news and not a work place, the cost would be greater than interest.

    sidebar: I actually prefer duxelles when I kick it old school and do a Wellington, more personal pref than cost or conscience, though. Love my ‘shrooms!

  • Natalie Sztern

    oh i forgot to ask another question…does anyone know the history of foie gras and how and why it became a food to eat? i love pickled tongue…do u think that will soon be outlawed? (no no i don’t pickle my husband’s tongue…heheheh lol)?

  • Natalie Sztern

    I have done some research, albeit not much, into Quebec Foie Gras production, and i have no comment because i have never eaten foie gras…

    one quebec duck farmer states the the “Foie gras producers say opposition to their product comes from urbanites who know nothing about ducks or their feeding habits. They say gavage – force-feeding – mimics the ducks’ natural instinct to gorge themselves before winter. They shrug off the controversy, saying that whatever business may be lost in the United States, which still accounts for about 30 per cent of sales, will be recouped within the province”

    What say y’all?

  • Ed

    CarolinaGirl…the amount of foie gras prepared in most culinary schools is almost zero. I’m not saying you never see it…but one lobe distributed over a class of 20? Most never get to even try cooking it.

    I wouldn’t be suprised to see schools targeted in the near future, if the young culinarians can be brainwashed in significant numbers then the demand will naturally decline in the coming years.

  • nicholas bergus

    CarolinaGirl,
    The ban only applies to “food dispensing establishments” in Chicago. A school (or customer for that matter) could have it shipped from outside the city.

  • CarolinaGirl

    Louisa. thanks.To pick your brain further, how will they get it to teach with if they cannot purchase it? Must admit I am not familiar with Chi Town geography, maybe I should back up and pose are the schools there located in Chicago proper where the ban is in effect, I mean I thought they were. Also, schools in other areas, will politicans consider students and create clauses exepting them as the ban bandwagon takes off to destinations like Ca or NY or PA?
    I just wonder things like that being a student myself.
    Also never hurts to size up the competition should they ever relocate to my turf. LOL

  • Louisa Chu

    CarolinaGirl – Chicago currently only bans the sale of foie gras. Culinary schools can possess it – but they could not sell it on a school restaurant menu.

  • CarolinaGirl

    Can I throw a question in for some consideration?
    I am wondering what effect the ban will have on culinary schools in the area? Will they graduate with no experience in foie gras and possibly giving a slight edge to a grad from another area? Or will they be exempt and allowed to study it?
    Just wondering. Thanks, y’all.

  • Sean

    I’m glad my comments generated some responses.

    “First of all I do not agree that it would invoke felony charges on pets because different species have different characteristics and different ways of being. Ducks and goose stock up fat in their liver and that’s mere biological fact, evolution gave that possibility for migration.”

    Simon, my intent in that passage was not to compare foie but the humane treatment laws governing factory farmed animals (pigs, poultry, livestock, etc) with those that concern pets. The forced gavage process aside, these geese appear to be raised much more humanely than say laying hens, veal calves, or even broiler chickens.

    I can understand the activists’ motivation to attack foie; it is the low hanging fruit of objectionable animal husbandry in the eyes of most Americans. The foie bans reveal that superficiality and perception are much more important than the kind of subsantive change that widespread recognition of the factory farming system would demand. As an ethical vegan I support this ban on the basis of my rejection of all animal exploitation for human ends (to the extent that is possible. However, politically and as part of a greater strategy to end animal consumption, I think these efforts are misguided and that the money and effort devoted to them would be better served in communicating to the public the far greater cruelty inherent in every factory farmed egg or gallon of milk. Ultimately this is much more challenging because this kind of campaign does not have the benefit of an “other” (rich foodies) but instead indicts each and every omnivore. This will be a long fight which will probably prove futile in the end with the introduction of synthetic meat or some other ostensibly ethical and cheap alternative.

  • faustianbargain

    ed, if you can read the bit again…nm..i’ll ask again..

    are the ducks NOT FED anything other than the gavage? its a simple question. if the only meal they can procure is during the gavage session, should it surprise anyone that the birds come running to the feeding funnel tubes? you said you have been to the foie gras farm..and i am asking a simple question.

    you also said to steve:

    “Meat is meat, there are gradiations of cruelty to be sure…but I am not going to act like any practice of husbandry is kind. I get even more upset with the people who can’t face where their food came from…they really should get a grip or become vegetarians. ”

    err..now now…who is trying to dictate what should be or shouldnt be on others’ plates now?

    frankly, i dont care what you or steve or ruhlman or anyone else eats. in fact, i dont think anyone should be tellng anyone else not to eat foie gras. but for some of us(by that, i mean people like ME), foie gras production is cruelty. the point is that some of YOU cannot live with the fact that some of US believe that the production of foie gras is cruel. hence the nonsensical spewage. deal with it. we are judging you. you like food that comes from tortured birds and if you are ok with it, why do you care what others say about it?

    when someone says that they will rear and kill animals for food because they believe that they need it for their nutrition/sustenance, their position throws light on their priorities..which is about food. when someone says that they will consume animal flesh ebcause it is tasty and they are honestly unapologetic about their food choices, it says something about their hedonism. when someone says that they will torture/kill other living beings because they are at the top of the food chain, it says something else about them. when another group of people insist..INSIST…that animals dont feel pain and swear that these animals actually ENJOY forcefeeding, it communicates something entirely different.

    if you can live with it, it’s not anyone’s business. but it is pretty pathetic when baseless justifications for foie gras consumption is made through..1. comparison with the plight of battery chicken about which i bet half the foie gras consumers dont give two fucks. 2. workers and fair remuneration…once again..lip service..talking about something is NOT doing 3. “top of the food chain” argument. i step away from such folks 4. other irrelevancies.

    animals live among us and how we treat them is indicative of the state of that ironical concept..our humanity.

  • Ed

    Steve,
    In case its not clear…I do not think it is wrong. Meat is meat, there are gradiations of cruelty to be sure…but I am not going to act like any practice of husbandry is kind. I get even more upset with the people who can’t face where their food came from…they really should get a grip or become vegetarians.

  • Ed

    I know I listed all of YOUR reasons to become a vegetarian…

    I am perfectly fine with the fact that we are at the top of the food chain…I do not feel sorry for the little bunnies, they are delicious when prepared properly.

    Your point about starvation…where in the link does it say they were ever starved? They are fed 3 times a day during the gavage! They are not allowed to hunt and peck for their food any more, this is true, but to infer that they are starved from that section of text? You and your ilk love to stretch the truth to your own end…

    I have honestly admitted that killing animals for food is not kind. Animals are not human beings, we have been hunting and husbanding animals for thousands of years…it is in our nature. It is people like you who give vegetarians a bad name, do what you will with your life, stop trying to impose your moral code on those of us who are willing to accept the fact that we evolved as omnivores.

    If you want to talk about reducing the consumption of meat, decreasing portion sizes, increasing product saftey, raisng animals in a way that minimizes their suffering, and decreasing the environmental impact of these activities then we may have common ground. Indeed, I would argue, that the production of foie gras in this US (I know nothing about Hungary or Bulgaria Mr. Red Herring) is exemplary in every single one of these areas.

    Foie gras is served in small portions, it is packaged in a way that minimizes the opportunity for pathogenic growth, they suffer less beause of their value and are generally raised and processed in closed systems that utilize almost 100% of the animal.

    Hate foie gras as much as you want, tacitly support harrasment against people who raise, cosume, or sell it. If you really think it makes you a better person, then that should be enough.

  • Steve

    Just to be clear, I am not actually a proponent of the foie gras ban. I am simply arguing that foie gras production, as it is currently performed in the United States, is unethical. The argument that there are bigger problems in the world in no way defeats or diminishes this statement.

    The reason why so many people on food blogs, including Michael Ruhlman, are up in arms about the foie gras bans is because they do not feel that foie gras is unethical to begin with. I only comment on the issue to point out either logical flaws or factual errors in pro-foie arguments. All the talk of “There are bigger problems in the world” and “What about the battery cages” and “Boy those animal rights activists make me mad” is simply dancing around what is (to me) the heart of the issue: Do you think foie gras is wrong?

  • faustianbargain

    we can figure everything out. one at a time.

    are all answers to the world’s ills supposed to burst out AT THE SAME TIME…simultaneously? are you going to stop fighting AIDS because the problem of poverty isnt solved?

    your pov is simply ridiculous.

  • szg

    Faust:

    Are you protesting a restaurant/supermarket because they sell lettuce that was raised on a commercial farm where the workers are paid almost nothing? Nope.

    Are you marching with the workers at the Smithfield plants in North Carolina who just want to be treated fairly?
    Nope.

    How did our leaders decide that its ok to ban the sale of Foie Gras, but turn a blind eye to the actual human cost to raise and grow our food?

    Why are so many willing to fight for the geese and the ducks and not members of our own species?

    Stop Foie Gras production and you will have saved some Geese and Ducks. Figure out how to pay farm workers a livable wage and change the world. The choice is yours.

  • faustianbargain

    szg, dude..you said..”I am merely wondering how we’ve allowed ducks and geese to take a priority over human lives?”

    tell me..who died because of the foie gras ban?

  • szg

    steve:

    No.

    My argument is simply that there are much bigger problems in the world, and specifically the food world than Foie Gras production.

    In particular, most of the opponents of Foie Gras production do it on the basis of protecting the ducks and geese. I am merely wondering how we’ve allowed ducks and geese to take a priority over human lives?

    Seriously, think about it, people protest a restaurant for serving Foie Gras because they believe the animals are treated cruelly. Yet, everyday, workers toil all over the world to ensure we have our fruits and vegetables. They are mostly paid a low wage (min. wage laws typically, do not apply) and do not have any health care insurance.

    But who cares how we treat them, as long as organic spinach gets to my table.

  • faustianbargain

    ed, what are the other feeding times for the ducks. it just occured to me after reading one of the links mentioned above re ethical foie gras that maybe the ducks come running because they are literally starved except during the force feeding times.

    did you witness any other feeding except the gavage?

  • szg

    Faust:

    My cat comes running every time I get near my kitchen. If one witnessed this behavior, one would believe that I must starve him the rest of the day.

    Yet, he gets two feedings of wet food (morning and night) and has dry food available to him all day — which he likes and eats.

    Still waiting on your where you get your food that is raised by workers that are paid a fair wage.

  • faustianbargain

    szg, i wasnt talking about your cat.
    (altho’..i’d be interested in your cat if you have pictures to show us!)

    now..while well fed animals do come running at the sight of food, that was not my point. i want to know if the ducks at foie gras farms are starved and if the gavage is their only feeding time. its a simple question and i’d like a honest answer.

    re workers and fair wage, i dont have an opinion to share her at this point. it is a classic digression technique and i refuse to bite.

  • Steve

    szg, are you saying that so long as migrant workers are overworked and underpaid, we are required to view foie gras production as ethically acceptable?

  • Ed

    Faustianbargain-
    The ducks are not starved…are you serious? If people choose to eschew meat on the grounds of cruelty then they should eschew ALL meat on the same grounds and should seriously consider going vegan becuase most egg and milk production I have seen are far uglier than foie gras production.

    Like I said, if I were going single out an ethical point in foie gras production (and the vast majority of produce we consume) it is the treatment of the migrant workers.

    There may be validity in the belief that human beings will never break the cycle of war and hate as long we are cruel to animals. I do not subscribe to it, but it is (possibly) tenable.

    The fact is, it is probably “cruel” to raise any animal and then turn around and kill it for food…their sole reason for existence is to die for our sustenence. Making them more comfortable during this process and treating them with respect are certainly less cruel, but who are we really kidding?

    Most Americans, if actually faced with the facts could not deal with this reality. After reading TK’s story about rabbits, I took it upon myself to participate in the process…I have respect for the animals we consume because I am aware of the sacrifice they make. It is not pretty, but it is at least honest and I am aware of the blood on my hands…are you?

  • faustianbargain

    ed, of course, i am serious. how do you know they are not starved. you saw them running towards the corn mush, feeding tube feeding..but did you see them being fed at any other time?

    obviously you didnt read the foieblog link which is why you probably think that i am trolling..allow me to cut and paste..

    (begin cut and paste)
    GG: As someone who offers an alternative to traditional Foie Gras, what are your personal feelings about efforts to ban force-fed Foie Gras production and sales in the United States?

    JS: My family has been in goose production since 1944. I have personally witnessed Foie Gras production in Bulgaria and Hungary and, in the early 80′s, worked with a Frenchman to produce one run of a couple hundred head. I can personally attest to the fact that the goose is not very partial to the idea the first few days. Eventually they calm down (especially if the handlers are gentle) and even look forward to it, but of course they are not permitted to eat on their own any more. That process is totally different from our approach, which is meant to NOT put our animals under any stress and provide a natural environment. But personally I love to eat Foie Gras and that led us to the decision to develop an alternative method to produce Foie Gras like product without force feeding geese. Although our method will not, nor is intended to, replace the traditional method, I believe that our Late Harvest Fatty Goose Liver can be a wonderful alternative and I personally enjoy the taste and texture immensely.
    (end cut and paste)

    link: http://foieblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/interview-with-jim-schiltz-developer-of.html

    seriously..i want to know. because it puts an entirely new spin on how the duck and geese ‘enjoy’ gavage.

  • Ed

    Sean, I agree 100%…we should be able to eat cats and dogs if we so choose, gold fish and parakeets, horses.

    In all seriousness, the real goal of these activists is to bring an end to all meat consumption…if they succeed with foie (which has been selected not only because it is a luxury product but because liver of any sort is generally repulsive to the vast majority of people) there will be something else.

    Veal is always teetering on the edge of this debate, it has certainly been targeted before.

    I have been to Hudson Valley and seen the production process…these birds come running when their handler shows up.

    I actually feel more sorry for the people who do the feeding, they have to do it every day because the birds tend to reject anyone they are not used to. Perhaps things have changed there, but years ago it did not strike me a cruel in the least.

  • szg

    To all the people who support the Foie Ban:

    I hear your cries for the ducks and geese. Rightfully, you cry fowl!

    Just let me know where you get your food that isn’t grown and picked with underpaid/overworked migrant workers — if its grown/raised in the states.

    Who cares about the workers, they are just people.

  • faustianbargain

    geese have always been used for foie gras. ducks came into the picture only recently. it took me a while to find out, but goose foie gras is apparently has a finer flavour than duck foie gras, but the latter is more economical to cook. you blink and goose foie gras disappears while duck foie gras is more forgiving. not just that, ducks are much easier to breed than geese. geese have less meat to bone ratio than duck..the only reason duck is used for foie gras production is because it is easier to make money with ducks than with goose. so, the whole production has little to do with tradition and more to do with making money. not that anything is wrong with it..maybe..just lets get the facts straight. so it is the geese that gorged themselves before migrating. anyone who has seen geese will know how large the bird can get and it is not easy to imagine how the bird would just take off with a naturally fattened liver as a storehouse. a duck? storing before migrating? i. dont. think. so. also, i dont know how many people have actually attempted to ‘pet’ a goose..never mind force feed it. they are aggressive birds.(and i have pictures to prove it) i’ll never forget the time i met a couple upclose…these are scary birds. i would consider foie gras ducks to be the same as crated veals. if you have issues with crated veal, you cannot, in good conscience, enjoy foie gras/duck. unless, you have been fed a helping of propaganda with your foie gras, that is..about ‘traditions’ and the spa life style that the ducks enjoy.

    foie gras must be seasonal. is it? even eggs are seasonal. free range chicken dont lay that many eggs during winter months. thats why battery hens are kept in lighted enclosed spaces so that they are fooled into thinking that its light. ducks too. ducks dont lay eggs when the days start shortening. when the spring ducklings come, they are ready for the xmas table. now you get foie gras all around the year. if ducklings are raised for foie gras from fall until spring, then they are living the exact same life as battery chickens. is this mentioned anywhere in the pamphlet that is handed over to foie gras lovers who are required to defend foie gras production? please check and get back to me.

  • TheFoodist

    sigh….
    And with the activists being camped out in philly of course this ruling is gonna fuel that fire.

    Im just wondering whats next on the hit list.

    But Nick B makes a good point on how chefs are getting around it. Serving it as a compliment and not pricing for it (directly, you could always hide in spread throughout food cost of all menu items) you find that loophole.

    This is one of those things I wish would just go away, but as long as people are opinionated I guess this stuff will happen.

  • Steve

    Simon, the “migratory adaptation” argument is probably the most common misconception among the foie gras apologists. While migratory birds do gorge and fatten up their livers, the practice of foie gras production (in the US at least) is completely unnatural. For one, the livers are enlarged far beyond what is seen naturally. In fact, they are pushed to the point that if they are fattened any more, the ducks begin to die on their own. This is only logical, of course, in order to attain maximum yield of foie per duck.

    Furthermore, the ducks themselves are a completely unnatural (and sterile) hybrid between a non-migratory species (Muscovy) and the domestic duck, a descendant of the Mallard (some wild populations of which are migratory, while others are non-migratory). It is therefore not an evolutionary adaptation but a genetic anomaly that these avian “mules” store fat in their livers much more readily than other birds.

    Otherwise, Michael is right in that these ducks are among the most well-treated production animals in the country. In my opinion, the only ethical way to produce foie gras is to simply give them all-you-can-eat food and let them gorge themselves as they “naturally” would. I believe there is a farmer in Spain and maybe one in South Dakota (someone help me out here) who are trying this method. The problem, of course, is that these livers would most likely only enlarge 2-3 times normal size as opposed to 10 times normal, so the fat content won’t be nearly as high.

  • Nick B

    My wife and I ate at Chicago’s Alinea in January. When one course included foie gras, I was surprised. (We had not seen a menu before the meal, but it was listed on the copy we were give to take home as foie gras.)
    “I thought foie gras was banned. Is the ban not yet in effect?” I asked one of our servers.
    “It’s in effect,” she said, “but this is complements of the chef. We’re not selling this.”
    I don’t think speakeasies are in the future.
    The first fine (of $250, though I think it can run as high as $500) for selling foie gras wasn’t issued until March 29 this year. The ban went into effect near the end of July last year.
    So while the law is being enforced, it doesn’t seem to be a high priority. There are, obviously, ways around it. (see this story from The New York Times: http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/08/23/us/23chicago.html)
    Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daily opposed the ban, suggesting that the city’s priorities were out of whack.

  • Claudia

    Russ, several Chicago restaurants DID ignore the ban, did pony up, or simply kept foie on the menu artfully described as something else. I had read that not all of the health inspectors were being terribly zealous about enforcing the ban, either. But I imagine that they will really start cracking down, and Philly will follow suit. All I can say is that the hint of a suggested ban survived all of about 16 hours in New York several months ago. The mere mention of it being proposed by our City Council resulted in a vicious smackdown by angry foodie constituents before it even made it to a vote and, fortunately, Mayor Bloomberg has been too busy with no smoking, no trans fats and turning NYC “green” to worry about foie. (Which is a good thing for him. We ride the same subway line every morning, and even I wouldn’t want to have to deal with me, without caffeine, first thing in the morning (!!))

  • Natalie Sztern

    I think Quebec producers of foie gras would not agree with the so-called inhumane conditions in which they produce, much has been written on the subject here, as u can imagine. What i would be more concerned with is if the government dictates what u can and cannot eat, how much further will it be to dictate what u can read and cannot read? This example is more a concern: if it were my government coming through my doors into my home where I eat and read-what comes next? images of book burnings now dance in my head…

  • Simon

    Sean,
    I think the most important point behind most of the Foie Gras appologists, including myself, is that foie gras production is on the lower scale of inhumane treatment of animals. First of all I do not agree that it would invoke felony charges on pets because different species have different characteristics and different ways of being. Ducks and goose stock up fat in their liver and that’s mere biological fact, evolution gave that possibility for migration. What we do to ducks and geese is merely accelerating the process and perhaps making it more productive (and better on the palate). This method is basically the same as tweaking the feed of a cow (20% alfalfa, 10% clover, 20% legumes, 50% grass, I really don’t know the numbers but you get the point) in order to get more milk or get a meatier beef at slaughter. Yes, it comes with gavage, which, if you have been in a foie gras farm, looks like an inconvenience at most for the great-great majority of the birds. Or course they don’t like to be handled, they’re animals, but neither does your cat like to be handled if it has an eye disease and needs drops or any other medication you want them to eat. Perhaps it is inhumane, but as I said, it is really low on the chart of inhumane behavior towards animals.

  • RussH

    Now we are going to have back-alley foie-gras. I seem to remember what happened in Chicago from 1920-1933 when another consumable was banned.

    So if somebody in an alley comes up to you, opens the back of a van and starts to show you duck livers, JUST SAY NO!

    Side Note – How severe is the fine? Could a restaurant just afford to simply ignore the ban and serve it up, with fine tacked on, just to spite the ruling?

  • Mikey

    But you see, foie gras is French, and doesn’t have big business behind it. It’s a soft target instead of something scary.

  • ruhlman

    sean, I don’t think i’m being inconsistent. the hypocrisy issue is my main beef. i don’t know the exact numbers off hand–100s of thousands of ducks vs a billion other livestock. so i have a helluva lot more respect for someone who practices thoughtful veganism than for someone who spends their days harrassing people who go to Union Square Cafe.

    Furthermore, my anger at the hypocrisy is fueled in part by the fact that, while I’ve never been a duck, or even explored a foie gras farm myself, from all that i’ve learned there’s every reason to believe ducks raised for foie gras are among the best treated livestock anywhere.

  • faustianbargain

    good points, sean.

    just one point. i think a lot of people reject battery eggs and meat from tortured animals…not to mention meat itself. veganism and vegetarianism is more than a fad. many people are avoiding meat and even giving it up altogether. how did this happen? knowledge. the more people become knowledgable, the greater their awareness, the better people are equipped to come to their own decisions and they decide with their pocketbooks. and some of this awareness occurs because of the animal rights people.

    ideally, i’d like to see a world where animals are treated well and people start eating consciously. i certainly dont want all of us to become vegetartians or vegans, but i’d love to see people eating LESS animal products than they do now.

  • sorcha

    Steve, some states ban the sale and possession of sex toys. Not quite the same thing, but depending on how much you love foie, could be close. ;)

  • Sean

    Do those who think this legislation is misguided or otherwise objectionable, oppose it out of a libertarian rejection of government intrusion or some other motivation? What I’ve gleaned from Mr. Ruhlman’s comments is both the aforementioned contempt for government intruding itself in an area where it shouldn’t have any jurisdiction and a recognition of the hypocrisy of focusing on foie gras in light of the conditions that billions of other animals are kept in. I think foie is an easy target because it invokes a certain populist critique of what is perceived to be a haute, upper class, and decadent product. People don’t seem to give a shit that most of their eggs are produced by hens jammed 5 or 6 to a 44 sq. inch cage as long as those eggs are sufficiently cheap. Price them above the reach of the average middle class consumer and steep them with a culture of haute cuisine and watch the bans and howls of protests follow (thankfully battery cages are being rejected on the cruelty alone).

    Getting back to my original question, I don’t think Ruhlman and others who chafe at this legislation are being consistent. You may reject it as being hypocritical, which I agree it is, but most of the commentators I have seen maintain their own hypocritical hierarchy of animals that they’re willing to allow laws regulating their treatment. For instance, I doubt anyone here would argue against humane treatment laws that protect dogs and cats. Why then is the regulatory status quo acceptable when billions of animals every year are subjected to treatment that would invoke felony charges and 20+ year prison sentences, if directed at pet species? Should not humane treatment laws apply to all species universally? It is untenable to argue that a pet is intrinsically any different than an animal consumed for food yet even those who cite the hypocrisy of foie bans maintain the aforementioned distinction between pets and food animals.

  • Claudia

    What idiocy. And I agree with Nick – ban foie, but what about battery hens and veal that is still inhumaely produced? (And don’t get started on the Smithfield CAFOs.)

  • Nick B

    What gets me are the comments from the animal rights people. I think that fighting for humane farming practices is a great thing. I’m not going to debate the ethics of foie gras (I eat it), but we have a huge animal welfare problem in this country that touches more animals than foie gras ducks that little is being done to fix.

  • Steve

    “The lawsuit, filed by the Illinois Restaurant Association and Allen’s New American Cafe last August, claimed the city of Chicago has no right to regulate the sale of a product that is produced legally.”

    That’s an interesting argument (maybe only because I’m not a lawyer). Are there other instances of a city or state banning the sale of an item which is otherwise legally produced (trans fat doesn’t count)?