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Farewell to Foie Gras


janeer
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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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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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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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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.

Wait, I'm confused...I thought that after the law goes into effect foie gras cannot be produced, sold, or served in California. You're saying it just can't be produced?

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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.

My representative did not listen to her constituents, a majority of whom were opposed to the bill. In fact, when I tried to bring this up at one of her "town hall" meetings, she was downright insulting, insinuating that at my age I probably didn't understand the implications of the bill. It was like a child being patted on the head and told to go and play and not bother the grown-ups.

At that time both she and her husband (who was and is our state senator) would hold these public meetings but blew off anyone who didn't march to their drum.

I agree that it is a "Ban" and it affects the producers most of all. Like any luxury product, the people who can afford it will not be affected. People who make their living from producing it are impacted.

I didn't mention in my earlier post about one confrontation I had with three PETA members about this. When one of them said that "wild" birds should be released, I informed him that these birds have been domesticated for centuries and no longer could cope in the "wild" and would quickly become victims of predators.

Time and again I have tried to make the point to these PETA fanatics that if any animal, bird or mammal, can't be used for food, or other useful products, the domesticated breeds will become extinct. No one can afford to keep them just to maintain a breeding population.

Their attitude has been, better dead than possibly being mistreated. I wonder how far they would take this idea?

"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.

Wait, I'm confused...I thought that after the law goes into effect foie gras cannot be produced, sold, or served in California. You're saying it just can't be produced?

There was talk of a ban on importing it but some big money corporations threatened "restraint of trade" suits and they make big donations to legislators. That hot potato was dropped in a hurry.

"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 agree that it is a "Ban" and it affects the producers most of all. Like any luxury product, the people who can afford it will not be affected. People who make their living from producing it are impacted.

We're still affected. Now our foie gras has to be FedEx'ed from Upstate New York. It's not a horrible imposition. But I really liked driving/flying to NorCal, buying wine, buying livers (and cheese and rillets, and confit, and damn, now I wanna go on vacation) and drinking wine and eating livers. Just something I enjoy. Something I enjoy enough that I pack pink salt for vacation. TSA has no idea what to make of THAT.

Usually, I'd pick up the foie at Oxbow Market in Napa. And I always looked for the Artisan Sonoma label. It's not something I eat often, but I sure as hell enjoy it when I do.

And since I advocate voting with one's wallet, I intend to. I'm going to buy 10 kilos of Grade-A before Thanksgiving. I just wish I could afford MORE.

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

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

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So, from reading the entire text, not only is foie being banned, so is the sale of horsemeat (I see you over there, Bo Derek) and the information that Trader Joe's will not stock duck meat. Why? Whole Foods has wisely stepped away from the duckmeat non-debacle.

It's really maddening that 4 people out of a comittee of 7 could pass a rather sweeping piece of legislation for a niche market that exists nowhere else on the West coast. If I were Sonoma Farms, I'd take my ducks and move to friendlier environs for small business owners.

Edited by annabelle (log)
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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'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.

Unrelated allegories and unfounded conjecture.

Unrelated to the instant topic, because making something currently legal illegal isn't the same as the vice versa.

Unfounded because best i can tell, Fed law makes it illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption across state lines. California has an explicit law for its borders. I can't find a substantiation for the idea that horse meat is not legal ANYWHERE in the US; I don't know whether you mean consumption itself or the slaughter therefore; I'd appreciate a cite to authority because I hear the claim sometimes.

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  • 5 months later...

Andiesenji said

There was talk of a ban on importing it but some big money corporations threatened "restraint of trade" suits and they make big donations to legislators. That hot potato was dropped in a hurry.

So us Californians can still get a hold of foie gras, but only by means of having it shipped to us via mail or internet order? Am I understanding this right?

If so, then the ban is not as bad as I thought (although it is dumb law, which is par for the course here in California). I can cook foie gras myself, I don't absolutely need to have a chef at a restaurant do it for me. Amazon.com actually carries Hudson Valley and LaBelle Farms foie gras, so I'll probably use them.

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Andiesenji said

There was talk of a ban on importing it but some big money corporations threatened "restraint of trade" suits and they make big donations to legislators. That hot potato was dropped in a hurry.

So us Californians can still get a hold of foie gras, but only by means of having it shipped to us via mail or internet order? Am I understanding this right?

If so, then the ban is not as bad as I thought (although it is dumb law, which is par for the course here in California). I can cook foie gras myself, I don't absolutely need to have a chef at a restaurant do it for me. Amazon.com actually carries Hudson Valley and LaBelle Farms foie gras, so I'll probably use them.

That's not my understanding. I believe the ban applies to production and sale of foie gras in California, effective July 1st.

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I ate foie in California earlier this week. I don't know if this is true or not, but our server said that although they will not be able to sell it after the law passes, they will be able give it away. So they plan on selling very expensive toast points, and throwing in the foie for "free".

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I ate foie in California earlier this week. I don't know if this is true or not, but our server said that although they will not be able to sell it after the law passes, they will be able give it away. So they plan on selling very expensive toast points, and throwing in the foie for "free".

Imagine: fois gras as an "amuse." I have not read the legislation; presumably, it does not ban raising practices, only selling? If so, makes me think they knew what they were doing. Even marijuana you can't grow.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been trying to get that answer and no one seems to know whether Californians can still order foie gras from out-of-state or country or whether that would be illegal too. Most people think it won't happen, but the wording of the bill is complicated.

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One thing that's being overlooked in the discussion of bans on certain foods -- whether raw milk or foie gras -- is the views of large corporate agriculture. Food production is a slim margin business. Eliminating small farms and producers is key to gaining growth and market share, even if not in the same industry. If you can't eat foie gras, you ARE going to eat something else - maybe a slice of Butterball Turkey instead?

Corporate food producers have to report increased profits to Wall Street every quarter. They realize people can only eat so much. Since the only way to increase profits is to increase consumption, they'd rather have you eating THEIR products instead of foie gras. They've been effectively lobbying legislatures and regulatory agencies for years under many guises in an effort to choke out existing and emerging competitiors. [see Marion's Nestle's book "Food Politics."] Foie gras is a food that has a high profit margin and can keep a small farm alive; this ban will put existing and future small farms out of business permanently - which means fewer players in the overall food marketplace.

As a "wannabe" cheesemaker, I can say that the same is happening with artisan and raw milk cheeses -- the regulations are getting so complex and expensive that only Kraft and Sargento will be able to compete. As an example, look at what happened to Estrella Farm in Washington State (along with many other small cheesemakers that have closed there recently). Corporate agriculture is only too happy for this to occur. They are quite savvy to choke new businesses out before they can gain a foothold -- and regulations are a way to do this.

The more regulations government puts in place restricting food production to all but a few select items, the less likely it is that future competitors will emerge. Our governments are slowly handing our food supply over to corporations. That said, I am not anti-government (in fact, I work for the government) -- but we need smart regulations that favor both large and small producers.

Edited by bigkoiguy (log)
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Oh please, the consumption of foie gras is such a rounding error that any shift in consumption wouldn't remotely be worth the lobbying effort.

I agree that foie isn't exactly a popular item. However, many of these big corporations have the mentality, "It's not enough that I should succeed. Others must fail."

When you get down to it, this is a battle between the artisan salumi makers and Hormel. Between the artisan foie producers and Tyson (chicken livers inna bucket). Between artisan cheese makers and Sargento. They don't WANT an educated market with developed palates.

Knowledge is bad for business. They've got chicken nuggets and hot pockets to sell, after all.

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

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In New York State ALONE, foie gras production is a $17.5 million industry (http://www.shepstone.net/economicreport.pdf). I have no doubt that other food producers wouldn't think twice about spending $20-30K to lobby against foie gras so that they can have a piece of that economic pie instead.

Compared to the 832 BILLION dollar US meat industry, that is indeed, tiny potatoes. To put that in perspective, if the US meat industry were a household earning $50,000 a year, putting Foie Gras out of business would net them an extra dollar.

PS: I am a guy.

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