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janeer

Farewell to Foie Gras

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Thank you Ptipois. I don't doubt that some foie gras producers treat their ducks horrifically, but as you pointed out, that doesn't mean foie gras production is cruel per se. I don't know for sure that the production *isn't* cruel, but I'm confident that the reasons such bans go through is because that vast majority of people don't know anything about duck and goose physiology. As mentioned above, lots of people have never eaten foie gras and know very little about it, so it's easy to tag it as an expensive, cruel food (with snooty French associations) that only rich assholes eat. I'm not surprised that popular opinion favours a ban without questioning what's going on.

If foie gras is banned because production is proved to cause the intense suffering that some believe it does, then that's one thing. If foie gras is banned because of sheer ignorance coupled with a sense of reverse snobbishness, that's something else entirely.

I must admit, the first time I plucked and drew a wild mallard and came face-to-face with a full crop, it was a bit of a revelation.

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This will be my final take on the issue as I do not wish to continuing arguing the same points.

Here is my take on the issue:

*It is not simply a case of vegetarians vs meat eaters. Some meat eaters do not agree with foie gras and certain other animal products either. There are vegetarians and vegans who really don't give a crap what other people eat. There are also people who really don't know where they stand on the issue but probably don't care too much either way.

*There are bigoted idiots amongst vegetarians and meat eaters. Both are very annoying and I do not agree with either.

*As mentioned, some vegetarians, such as myself, may not personally agree with foie gras production but do not really feel comfortable with a ban. It's easy to see why foie gras is considered particularly cruel, but then so is the practice of keeping battery chickens, etc. Personally I would rather that there was a focus on improving the welfare of all animals reared for consumption and an increase in awareness of where food comes from rather than banning of a few products here and there. Also, I do not think the ban will necessarily be particularly effective.

*A large number of people clearly felt strongly against foie gras and that is why the law has been passed. It's a shame that it leaves some people unhappy but that's how it works. Perhaps the law will be overturned at some point; it seems moderately likely to me.

To summarise, there's no need to be all "them and us" about the issue. Democracy is a funny old thing and sometimes laws get passed that we don't all agree with.


Edited by Jenni (log)

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I am not so confident in the electorate of California these days to make an informed decision after what happened with Prop 8. Kneejerk judgements based on inflamed propoganda about morals and ethics seems to be a recurring theme in my observation.

While I will conceed there may be maltreatment of geese or ducks on some foie gras farms. A ban bascially is a statement that there is no way to do it that is not mistreatment. I think they should have to prove this ,and that any way of farming foie gras is out of line with common practices in other animal husbandry industries. Any farms that don't follow proper procedures could be dealt with , without the need for a prohibition on all foie gras.

this process described in the report mjx linked to before seems to be very efficient and demonstrates care for welfare of the birds.

"In larger units, pneumatic devices are used. They allow the farm worker to deliver the same quantity of food in 2-3 seconds. Such a system is connected through a computer which helps to determine the amount of food to deliver to each bird on the basis of the body weight

and the amount of food which was delivered during the preceding meals"


Edited by Ashen (log)

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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California S.B. No. 1520 was introduced to the California Legislature by State Senator John Burton in 2004. It passed the legislature, but I do not believe it was ever put to a public vote. The law was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law itself does not specifically ban foie gras, but rather the practice of force feeding birds and any products resulting from birds which have been force-fed. The law was given an 8-year grace period so that methods could be developed that would produce foie gras without the necessity of force-feeding.

Technically, foie gras will still be legal in California, provided it comes from a bird that has not "consume[d] more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily."

The law was supported by a number of groups including the Humane Society of the United States, Los Angeles Lawyers for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Protection and Rescue League, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

If anyone wants to actually read the law: http://law.justia.com/codes/california/2010/hsc/25980-25984.html

I find it terribly ironic that the same people who criticize the ban feel it necessary to smear their opponents with terms of "terrorist" and entirely unrelated allegories from half way across the country. The HSUS and the ASPCA are both very well established organizations and neither organization could possibly be considered "a terrorist organization." I give credit to Bruce Earls for realizing this himself. I also find it ironic that many of the people criticizing the law haven't even read it and their criticizims are nothing more than unfounded conjecture.

I would further note that there are many, many laws on the books that certain people don't agree with. That's just the nature of laws. However, from everything that I can find, it does appear the majority of the population feels that the force feeding of animals should be banned.

I'd also like to know why none of the foie defenders are not up in arms concerning horse meat. It isn't legal anywhere in the US, yet not a peep.


Edited by Florida (log)

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For those interested in learning more about foie gras production in order to inform opinion the following link is to an academic paper published in 2004 when the Council of Europe was reviewing the industry.

http://www.lefoiegras.fr/content/download/173/1441/file/doc_inra.pdf

The focus here is on industrial production rather than the small artisanal units like I visited. While the paper focuses on French production, the vast majority of foie gras originating there, it is written in English.

Thank you for your perspective, DianaB, and especially for all of the information on French technique of foie gras production.

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Ducks don't breathe with their tongues (see any reliable source regarding avian respiration, e.g. , S. Girling 2003 Veterinary nursing of exotic pets p. 11), but since the tube isn't inserted into the trachea (which would be pointless, since the food would go into the lungs, killing them instantly the first time round), this isn't relevant. I deliberately used 'inserted' rather than 'shoved', by the way, since I have no idea of how much force is used in the proces, and was trying to stick with neutral terms.

('Us'? I thought you live in Nevada.)

From "The Foie Gras Wars" by Marc Caro:

"Imagine if somebody put a pipe down your throat and filled you up with food. You would be gagging, falling over. But ducks actually breathe through the center of their tongue."

As for where I live, you are correct. I live in Nevada. I regularly vacation in California. So the ban does affect me, just a little.

And as for the other recent posts (I really dislike the quoting feature here, it takes the wisdom of Solomon to multi-quote several embedded quotes):

1) I am all for the production and sale of horse meat. Horse tastes amazing.

2) I am also all for the production and sale of unpasteurized, non-homogenized milk.

I am against banning food, except in the case of threatened animals like abalone, chilean sea bass and conch. And even then, we can import these animals from places where they AREN'T threatened, if that's an option.

As for "reasonable discussion on the ethics, without being branded as terrorists" -- look up at the topic title. It says, "Farewell to Foie Gras" not "Let's question the ethics and morality of Foie."

I'm trying to discuss the BAN, not the practice. The vegetarians are falling over themselves trying to explain why they're against the practice. But not a word on the subject of banning food. Perhaps because banning food is akin to banning books.

My point is, was, and always will be -- If you don't like it, don't buy it. Show your distaste of foie by not purchasing it. But don't make the choice for me.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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The law was supported by a number of groups including the Humane Society of the United States, Los Angeles Lawyers for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Protection and Rescue League, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

If anyone wants to actually read the law: http://law.justia.com/codes/california/2010/hsc/25980-25984.html

I find it terribly ironic that the same people who criticize the ban feel it necessary to smear their opponents with terms of "terrorist" and entirely unrelated allegories from half way across the country. The HSUS and the ASPCA are both very well established organizations and neither organization could possibly be considered "a terrorist organization." I give credit to Bruce Earls for realizing this himself. I also find it ironic that many of the people criticizing the law haven't even read it and their criticizims are nothing more than unfounded conjecture.

From the same interview with Marc Caro, author of "The Foie Gras Wars"

Do you think the ultimate goal of the anti-foie gras movement is to turn everyone vegetarian?

That's their dream. The people running the Humane Society and PETA are vegans and they don't believe in exploiting animals for human uses. Period. It's not like most of these people have illusions that we're about to become a vegan country. But they can make their little dents over time in a long-ranging battle. It's a bigger issue than just people fighting over duck livers.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I wrote the governor prior to his signing the bill, pointing out that he had recently enjoyed a meal that included foie gras and it was hypocritical of him to sign it and cause hardship to the producers in California when there was no ban on the importation of this product.

The ban, like many other ideal-driven campaigns by people who want to tell others how to live, is not going to stop people from buying and consuming foie gras. It is just going to impact the producers.

I've had several face-to-face confrontations with PETA members and have most often found them to be somewhat hysterical and never willing to listen to a coherent, reasonable counter to their claims. They shout down anyone who attempts to voice a dissenting opinion.

It's virtually impossible to deal with unreasonable people who refuse to listen to other opinions.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'm trying to discuss the BAN, not the practice. The vegetarians are falling over themselves trying to explain why they're against the practice. But not a word on the subject of banning food. Perhaps because banning food is akin to banning books.

Read the law. The law bans the practice, not the foie gras itself. If you want to "discuss the BAN," none exists to discuss.

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I'm trying to discuss the BAN, not the practice. The vegetarians are falling over themselves trying to explain why they're against the practice. But not a word on the subject of banning food. Perhaps because banning food is akin to banning books.

Read the law. The law bans the practice, not the foie gras itself. If you want to "discuss the BAN," none exists to discuss.

How is halting and criminalizing production NOT a ban? They're trying to chip away at our rights, this is just another example.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I wrote the governor prior to his signing the bill, pointing out that he had recently enjoyed a meal that included foie gras and it was hypocritical of him to sign it and cause hardship to the producers in California when there was no ban on the importation of this product.

The ban, like many other ideal-driven campaigns by people who want to tell others how to live, is not going to stop people from buying and consuming foie gras. It is just going to impact the producers.

There was only one California producer of foie and he wrote a letter to Schwarzanegger asking him to sign the bill:

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/foie_gras_972004_california.pdf

I will admit, this letter is a fairly weak endorsement, but it does ask that the Governor sign the bill.

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I wrote the governor prior to his signing the bill, pointing out that he had recently enjoyed a meal that included foie gras and it was hypocritical of him to sign it and cause hardship to the producers in California when there was no ban on the importation of this product.

The ban, like many other ideal-driven campaigns by people who want to tell others how to live, is not going to stop people from buying and consuming foie gras. It is just going to impact the producers.

There was only one California producer of foie and he wrote a letter to Schwarzanegger asking him to sign the bill:

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/foie_gras_972004_california.pdf

I will admit, this letter is a fairly weak endorsement, but it does ask that the Governor sign the bill.

"Please sign this bill, so maybe HSUS and PETA members will stop making my life miserable."

Quite the endorsement, there.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I'm trying to discuss the BAN, not the practice. The vegetarians are falling over themselves trying to explain why they're against the practice. But not a word on the subject of banning food. Perhaps because banning food is akin to banning books.

Read the law. The law bans the practice, not the foie gras itself. If you want to "discuss the BAN," none exists to discuss.

How is halting and criminalizing production NOT a ban? They're trying to chip away at our rights, this is just another example.

You indicated above you want "discuss the BAN, not the practice" but the law expressly relates to the practice. Can't discuss one without the other.

As for your rights, there is no "right" to foie gras. I would further note, that as a consumer, it is fully legal for you to eat foie in the state of California.

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You indicated above you want "discuss the BAN, not the practice" but the law expressly relates to the practice. Can't discuss one without the other.

As for your rights, there is no "right" to foie gras. I would further note, that as a consumer, it is fully legal for you to eat foie in the state of California.

But soon I will no longer be able to eat Foie from Artisan Sonoma Foie Gras, which is one of four producers I'm comfortable with purchasing from -- and the only one even close to "local." Soon, I'll have to ship it in from New York -- that doesn't make any sense to me when I can drive to Sonoma in a day.

We're going to have to agree to disagree on the concept of "rights." I have the right to eat. I have the right to eat what I want, so long as I am not contributing to extinction by doing so. I have the right to choose where my food comes from. It may not be spelled out in the Constitution, but they are rights nonetheless.

And I find it sad that on a food site, more people aren't posting something to the effect of "don't ban my food."


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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And I find it sad that on a food site, more people aren't posting something to the effect of "don't ban my food."

I'll second this.

I'm pleased that someone posted a link to the actual bill, since it appears nowhere in the original article that started this discussion. I am also not surprised to learn that the bill was not put to a vote, but rather signed into law by the then governor.

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We're going to have to agree to disagree on the concept of "rights." I have the right to eat. I have the right to eat what I want, so long as I am not contributing to extinction by doing so. I have the right to choose where my food comes from. It may not be spelled out in the Constitution, but they are rights nonetheless.

And I find it sad that on a food site, more people aren't posting something to the effect of "don't ban my food."

I believe this falls under the vague umbrella of "liberty and the pursuit of happiness", which is spelled out. Provided of course, that you aren't hurting anyone else directly...


Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Read the Bourdain article, where he describes a friend who had his business vandalized, his car doused with acid, and had video of his wife and children at home (along with a threatening message) sent to him, then tell me that they're not terrorists.

There may be some militant organizations, but that doesn't mean that the organizations who worked to push forward this legislation (whether or not you agree with it) are terrorists. If you have specific documentation that the groups that proposed this legislation to the state senator who sponsored the bill (Viva!USA, Farm Sanctuary, Los Angeles Lawyers for Animals, and Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, according to Wikipedia) are terrorists, I'd be interested to hear about it. While you may not agree with the stance of radical environmental or animal rights groups, it's still unfair to characterize all of them as terrorists based on the activities of a few. Most people interested in AR got that way because they don't like violence.

Also, while plenty of individuals in California disagree with the ban, the ban was proposed and accepted by the elected representatives of the residents of California.


Edited by Will (log)

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I'm pleased that someone posted a link to the actual bill, since it appears nowhere in the original article that started this discussion. I am also not surprised to learn that the bill was not put to a vote, but rather signed into law by the then governor.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the legislature had to vote on it before the governor could sign the bill.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_foie_gras_law

You can see the bill's full history here:

http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/sen/sb_1501-1550/sb_1520_bill_20040929_history.html

California does have a process where the public votes directly on certain bills, but for the most part, legislation here works roughly the same way as in other states or in the federal government -- legislators introduce bills, the legislature votes on them, and at some point, the governor signs / or vetoes them.


Edited by Will (log)

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Yeah, I know. I was born and raised there. I wasn't clear in that I meant the citizens of the State of California didn't vote on this bill, it was the legislature.

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We're going to have to agree to disagree on the concept of "rights." I have the right to eat. I have the right to eat what I want, so long as I am not contributing to extinction by doing so. I have the right to choose where my food comes from. It may not be spelled out in the Constitution, but they are rights nonetheless.

And I find it sad that on a food site, more people aren't posting something to the effect of "don't ban my food."

I believe this falls under the vague umbrella of "liberty and the pursuit of happiness", which is spelled out. Provided of course, that you aren't hurting anyone else directly...

That's in the Declaration, which is not our governing document. And while I agree that California has the right as a state to enact whatever laws it chooses, I also have the right to vocally disagree with those laws. Even though I won't move to Napa and start a duck farm anytime soon.

And the "we know what's best for you" types WILL keep chipping away at our rights, as long as we let them. Don't doubt that for one minute. This is about more than just fighting over duck livers, as was mentioned upthread.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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There was quite a kerfuffle in Philadelphia...

Nice to see such a great, but infrequently used, word in its proper context.

Regarding the ban (can't raise it or sell it is,indeed, a ban) on foie gras, it's a wonderment the politicians and populace of our largest state caring a whit about this matter. Same goes for Chicago, Philly and anyplace else people feel the need to legislate what about 1.5% of Americans occasionally eat.

I'm aware of the practices of Hudson Valley and other farms that raise the geese as humanely as possible. If you're going to eat domestic/farm raised animals you know they're going to experience some distress somewhere along the line.

I love foie and have been know to buy an entire lobe, knowing one of the dinner guests was bringing a bottle of d'Yquem.


Edited by Mano (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I should just move to Brittany. I can't stand the fact that I live in a country that is making foie gras illegal, yet this abomination is allowed:

Paula Deen Butter-Flavored Lip Balm


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Cheer up, Scoop. Put in a pond and raise your own ducks.

Mano: James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal uses "kerfuffle" quite often in his column and also has a metaphor alert wherein he takes down different over-the-top political statements.

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Out of curiousity I wonder how many in the very vocal "don't take tell me what food I can choose to eat" camp are also very vocal supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act, those who terrorize Abortion clinics etc.,

Seems to me everyone is a Libertarian until its an issue they are ideological about... and just about everyone is ideological about something and wants to force everyone else to follow by that more.

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My grandfather was a pig farmer back in the 1950's... and in that era & culture (with most of the diet based on grains, legumes & vegetables), lard was essential and practically the main purpose for raising pigs, it fetched a great price and the objective of pig farming was to raise pigs that rendered lots of lard, and which also had fattier meat.

At some point he adopted a practice of providing corn masa disolved into water as the only liquid the pigs could drink.... the thirstier they got, the more they drank, the fatter they grew & the thirstier they got.... etc., The practice is apparently incredibly effective.. the pigs grow abnormally large... unfortunately they are also likely to experience Type II Diabetes, Fatty Liver & Gluacoma... almost all the pigs are immobile, blind, constantly "overheating", breathing very hard etc., and the last weeks prior to slaughter.

My grandpa could not take doing that to the pigs & decided to abandon the practice, making the very tough decision to forgo some much needed extra cash (which might be the difference between buying new clothes or patching up the old ones... buying a sack of oranges or sticking to foraged prickly pears all year etc.,)

I am interested in knowing whether the practice described above should be considered humane or inhumane?

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