CA Bans Foie Gras
Just saying the word Foie Gras conjures up the memory of some of the best meals in my life. It seems that just about every gourmet and stand out meals in my past have including this delicacy. And I’ll be the first to say that I absolutely love Foie Gras.
However, there are those that strongly oppose this. So much so that on July 1st, California will ban foie gras from the state. It was a legislation that was passed 8 years ago by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but was given time for farmers to adjust. So let’s take a closer look into the controversy.
Definition: A food made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.
Method: The animal is force fed a diet of corn boiled in fat and oil for 12-15 days through a metal tube inserting into the throat (a process known as gavage). This process takes about 3 seconds to administer. This allows the bird to store the excess fat in the liver, thus creating foie gras.
Controversy: Animal rights groups say that force feeding is violating animal welfare because they claim it often results in neck and head injuries. “Overgrown livers also impede the normal functioning of other vital organs, including the lungs and stomach. Even birds that are not caged quickly become so overweight that they are unable to move.” (source)
Opposition to Ban: Many chefs are making their voice heard about the California ban on foie gras and have been working hard to get legislation to repeal the ban. These CA chefs have formed a group called Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards or CHEFS. These CHEFS acknowledges the animal welfare concerns associated with foie gras production, but argues the solution should be to update the farming and feeding methods rather than to ban foie gras altogether.More food for thought:
- The physiology of ducks and geese is unique. They don’t have nerves in their throats and can devour large fish, oftentimes three times the size of what consumers buy in supermarkets.
- California was supposed to delegate funds to agriculture programs at universities such as UC Davis to research and study gavage as an acceptable means of foie gras production. But upon passage of the 2004 ban on foie gras, the state stated there were no longer monies available for research.
- This ban is putting a lot of farmers out of business that claim their practices are humane and have not had anyone do a regulated study on the effects of force feeding.
- Many farmers use the whole bird – feathers for down pillows and comforters, etc and now say that the livers of these birds will just go to waste.
Obviously, I am only scratching the surface of the issue and there is a lot more that I could discuss. My final opinion is definitely somewhere in the middle. Loving this delicacy, and the welfare of animals. This issue to me isn’t separated from any meat production and there are abuses to be found everywhere. My hope is that we can regulate the treatment of these animals and focus on the farming practices rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water. What are you thoughts?