A Wide Ranging Response to the Foie Gras Ban

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Two weeks ago we aired an interview with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo about Calfornia’s Foie Gras Ban. The two chefs (from Animal and Son of a Gun Restaurants) were admittedly against the ban and felt that this legislation was an easy target for animal rights activists, but more than anything the chefs were devastated that the ingredient could not be replaced in the kitchen.

We received a slew of comments and several emails in response to the interview – some in favor of Jon and Vinny’s position and many in favor of the ban. I wanted to share the wide ranging response with you here and invite you to join in the debate. You can also hear coverage from KCRW’S Which Way, LA? here.

The videos of the geese being force fed are awful! The poor birds confined in a cage after being force fed (several times a day) become so heavy they can barely move-so sad and inhumane. Is this really how we should treat animals so we can eat an appetizer or an overpriced meal? Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated…the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from cruelty of man.” I’m glad that California is banning fois GRAS. Hopefully-more states will follow.

…There’s nothing wrong with the current methods of producing foie gras. The habit of animal rights activists comparing it to torture, concentration camps, and water boarding is outrageously sensationalized, and then becomes farcical when comparisons arise of torturing children and stuffing your grandmother and other such nonsense. Tube-feeding ducks gives some discomfort, but not unreasonably so as to be painful or cruel. It’s a feeding that takes few seconds per day and some of these farms are the most responsible farms around in the treatment of their livestock, with among the lowest mortality rates compared to other meat industries. The foie gras industry is just not being given the fair treatment that’s important for consumers to make their own rational and moral choices. Of course, California is a state won’t even let people make that choice on their own. – Julia

If a child is seen torturing an animal it raises a red flag of alarm about his (or her) character and lack of compassion but it seems to be OK with a lot of people if you’re an adult and your victim is just a helpless bird. The guests on today’s Good Food show (June 24) seemed to believe that torturing a goose is OK if it makes its liver taste good. Yum, yum, nothing like it, they said peevishly. Well, it’s not OK and I’m proud of California for making a dent in the practice. As everyone on today’s show bemoaned the loss of foie gras as if there were no sane reason for it, I wish someone had had the courage to mention the word “cruelty” in the discussion. That is the reason for the ban. Hooray for it. – Renais Jeanne Hill

I love listening to Good Food, but was quite disappointed that you gave a one-sided point of view on foie gras.  You had on two chefs who love foie gras last week.  To be fair, I think that you should have also had on a chef who supports the ban, such as Wolfgang Puck.  As somebody who supports and fought for the ban, I would hope that you could give the other side of the issue in an upcoming show. – Kayla

I am putting my energies toward folks like farmer Eduardo Sousa (that guy in Spain). I also support Slow Food and all effort to ween us off factory farming. What gets my goat (pardon the pun) are the PETA lemmings who seem the most gleeful for the ban. They know nothing but to “save the animals” and–in this effort–cut the revenue stream of niche foie gras producers, while animal cruelty continues for chickens, cows, etc., to supply our mega-marts. Never mind what the chefs and foodies are saying; would anyone truly notice the effect of the foie gras ban in a couple of weeks? I’d bet Californians won’t even recall in a year because they’d be enjoying foie gras in Las Vegas or whatever. Meanwhile, the ban will ironically forbid efforts like farmer Eduardo Sousa’s in California. And for what? Getting rid of a luxury item most of us don’t eat, that’s raised and produced in a way most of us don’t appreciate–a lot of talk and hot air with minimal effect. – Dan

…in the case of foie gras, why not simply start a campaign to educate people if it’s wrong? Fur sales are illegal in very few places, but the fashion for wearing fur decreased with campaigns. West Hollywood banned fur sales which can be seen as either wonderfully progressive or just ridiculous. But it seems odd that in a city where marijuana is readily available, cocaine can be readily bought that going to the state to ban the manufacture (just a little in the state, too bad Sonoma) and sale (but not the private consumption, importation or ownership) of foie gras is goign to be skirted as it has been in Chicago. There are more free range chickens now as there is more demand. Get rid of the demand for foie gras and the production will fade. I’ve seen suggestions to have notices given to consumers on foie gras when it’s on the menu. But perhaps we can have notices on the widespread use of pestdicides on cotton when you buy clothing or similarly for leather, for monoculture anything, for wood … – Jerome