Archive for the ‘Food Legislation’ Category

What We’re Following: Foie Gras

July 1, 2012

The end of a long period of waiting has finally arrived: the 7 and a half year long difference from the signing of legislation to ban foie gras in California and the date the law goes into effect has finally shrunk to zero  (For more on the history of foie gras legislation, check out the companion to this post, our Foie Gras Timeline).  In light of this contentious landmark, we present here a condensed overview of the final months in this debate.  Please feel free to add any further resources in the comments below.  As this issue elicits so many strong emotions from both sides, all the articles below should be read with an eye toward an Op-Ed context. For readers with shy stomachs, some, perhaps, should not be read at all. Articles with particularly graphic description have been noted in our annotation.

Proponents

Foie gras isn’t forever — John Burton, LA Times
Mr. Burton, who wrote the bill for the ban on foie gras nearly 8 years ago, revisits the conditions under which the law came to be. He highlights that a major factor in providing such a long grace period was to give farmers the opportunity to develop alternative means of producing foie gras that were less offensive to the animal’s nature. According to Mr. Burton, this is an agreement that has failed to produce the promised results.

Foie gras is torture in a tin. It’s time for a ban — Steven Berkoff, The Guardian
Opinions from across the pond, in England, where ‘gavage’ (but not the sale of foie gras) has been banned for some time now, and where the source of the dish, France, is closer to home. Mr. Berkoff focuses on the graphic detail of conditions in foie gras farms, but distinguishes between those found in America and France, with the latter being described as generally less humane.

Foie Gras Fighters Make False Resys to Thwart Service — Kat Odell, Eater
The title says it all. In the wake of the foie gras ban, the California culinary world has become increasingly confrontational, and this article takes a brief look at a few of the tactics being utilized.

Opponents: The CHEFS Movement

Chefs Say Foie Gras Ban Could Spread Beyond California — Elena Ferretti, Fox News
The headline does not get to the real meat of this article, which concerns threats allegedly received by several chefs over their insistence on continuing to prepare foie gras until the ban takes effect.

Waddling into the Sunset — Jesse McKinley, The New York Times
An almost-elegaic portrait of the steps taken in the weeks before the ban’s effect by those who oppose it, peppered with the commentary of those who support it. Some still hope for a successful appeal, while others are just hoping to enjoy their last taste of the versatile dish (at least until they head out-of-state, of course). The commentary by food-focused journalist Michael Pollen on the second page is worth clicking through for.

With foie gras ban, chefs say state is force-feeding morality — Jonathan Gold, LA Times
Mr. Gold presents the stance of chefs who favor foie gras in parallel to the move of so many individual Californian chefs removing Bluefin tuna from menus, in light of the threat of extinction for the fish.  He thereby argues that the chefs affected by this legislation are chefs whose sense of morality is well-adjusted, and fully in accordance with their menus.  This piece, probably the most opinionated of this post, is included for the clarity with which it seems to capture the general sentiment of the CHEFs members.

A Foie Gras Timeline

July 1, 2012

2004 – SB1520 passes in California, allowing producers 7.5 years to arrange a different means of foie gras production

2006 – Chicago passes law prohibiting the sale of foie gras within city limits, with 90-day grace period; meets with repeated deliberate infractions as a form of protest; only a single establishment fined — a gourmet hot dog stand

2008 – Chicago foie gras ban repealed, under criticism from then-mayor Daley

2012 – CHEFS, or, Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, union of pro-foie Californian chefs formed by several well-known Californian chefs

             – Pro-foie chefs begin ‘foie-mageddon’, preparing an unprecedented number of foie-based dishes for patrons in anticipation of the law’s enactment; anti-foie activists attempt to thwart these statements by making false reservations, and picketing outside participating restaurants

             July 1 – California law enacted in full.

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Further Reading:

Chicago:

Chicago Prohibits Foie Gras — Gretchen Ruethling, The New York Times

Chicago Overturns Foie Gras Ban — Nick Fox, The New York Times

‘Foie-Mageddon’ :

With Time Running Out, California Is Gorging Itself on Foie Gras — Ben Worthen, The Wall Street Journal

CHEFS:

The CHEFS group is covered at length in our companion post —  What We’re Following: Foie Gras