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FOIE GRAS TO BE ILLEGAL IN SONOMA?


bourdain
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Hot on the heels of the shameful "Manrique Episode", where Aqua chef Laurent Manrique's business and car were vandalized--and his family threatened--by animal rights "activists" (See angry editorial in December FOOD ARTS), Sonoma County is said to be considering measures to outlaw all foie gras production AND SALE. Is this true? And will it pass? ( I'm hearing that it will.) Nice timing.

With industry heavy hitters Traci Des Jardins and Charlie Trotter already having cravenly abandoned their peers--and the centuries old tradition they came up from--by loudly and sanctimoniously removing it from their menus, this could well be the first warning shot of the Final Struggle . So enjoy your foie now, fellow Americans. It could all be over soon.

abourdain

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If that is the case, I'm glad I don't live too far from Montreal!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Also, remember that Sonoma is a very very very small part of this larger thing we call America, which itself is only a fraction of this little blue marble we are stuck to. So you might have to drive farther for it if you live where it's "banned".

Besides, just because it's banned does not mean that people can't get it. People get plastered in dry counties all the time. You see booze on the beach, you can find unpasteurized foods from other countries, and lots of other things slip under the radar. Sonoma is not the only place in the US, or even California, that you can get foie gras.

I've never even been able to afford the stuff, but I still lead a full and worthwhile life. Even if it goes away in more than that 200 square mile area, I think we as a species will survive.

I have to work on Thanksgiving. Pardon the vitriolic response. But I think you are overreacting...

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I've never even been able to afford the stuff, but I still lead a full and worthwhile life. Even if it goes away in more than that 200 square mile area, I think we as a species will survive.

I suspect that this will be the prevailing attitude as the issue, increasingly, comes up for votes around the country and the world. Foie gras is for a few rich people--so who cares? It IS--on its face--a tough thing to defend. Try to picture any self-interested public figure essentially saying, " Cruelty to animals? Force feeding cute little ducks (or geese)--for an elitist gourmet treat? I'm FOR IT!" Not likely to happen.

The production of foie gras is already illegal in Australia and New Zealand (countries which pride themselves on their food scene). I don't know what the UK situation is--but suspect that the current is headed in a direction similar to Sonoma.

No big deal? That a vital culinary tradition--central to French cuisine--dating back to Roman times is imperilled? As goes California--often goes the rest. (As I have found everytime I each for my smokes at a saloon in NYC. )

On a more close to home note, you might cast your eyes up to the D'Artagnan ad at top of page--a business BUILT on foie gras production and related products. If, for instance, D'Artagnan can't sell foie gras and foie gras products, the potential ripple effects on the viability of the rest of their line could be extremely destructive to both the company--and to the many, many restaurants who depend on them. At the very least, chefs from Gascony will be less inclined, I would think, to relocate to a place where they have to cook with one arm tied behind their backs. Our pates and terrines at Les Halles will become a lot less interesting. Products that emanate from foie gras production--ie" magret, legs for confit, duck bones, duck blood, duck giblets, duck rilette could be harder--and more exepensive to find. (As these--in the Hudson Valley anyway) are by-products of animals bred specifically for foie gras.

It IS a big deal.

abourdain

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[.

Try to picture any self-interested public figure essentially saying, " Cruelty to animals? Force feeding cute little ducks (or geese)--for an elitist gourmet treat? I'm FOR IT!" Not likely to happen.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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If this happens I will personally boycott Sonoma products including wine. It is a small statement, but if others do the same... A lot of people who drink Sonoma wines or eat their other products are also people who eat foie gras.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Try to picture any self-interested public figure essentially saying, " Cruelty to animals? Force feeding cute little ducks (or geese)--for an elitist gourmet treat? I'm FOR IT!" Not likely to happen.

I'm a Cajun. If it don't eat me, I eat it. I was raised on a dairy farm. Little boy cows don't make milk. And you only need a few bulls. We always had a freezer full of veal. I bottle fed some of them. I am fully cognizant of the circle of life and all or the dirt, snot, blood, and shit that goes with it. I am still an avowed carnivore. This is not (for me) an animal cruelty issue or whatever.

Foie gras and all the stuff that goes with it is an industry, to be sure. Yes, people make their living from it. Some people make a LOT of money from it. And many things are made from that duck other than just the liver. Agreed. There is a great culinary and artistic movement based on it. Agreed. But the people who really want the stuff will find out how to get it. The ones who don't care about it never even knew where to find it in the first place.

One liberal county in California decides to outlaw the sale of foie gras. Let's not lose focus of the issue. The agriculture lobby is not a limp dishrag. If the farmers start getting hard hit by those two restaurants not being able to sell foie gras, you can bet that they are going to step in on behalf of the entire industry. In the meantime, both of those restaurants are getting free publicity from it. They are probably booked solid for the next year anyway. The holidays are here, and that's when the prices spike a little anyway.

Duck will continue to be served in restaurants. If they have to start wasting the liver, it will eventually sink in that "Since we have to kill the things anyway, why don't we let them sell the liver?" It makes no sense to kill an animal and waste any usable part of it. Ask McDonalds. Even PETA agrees with that one. All that means is that the supply will go down, and prices will go up, probably temporarily.

I think it's more a matter of the one part of the animal being more prized than the rest of the parts, and the animal being raised only to allow that one part to be perfect. Everything else is gravy, so to speak. People eat pig's feet because it was a use discovered after the hog had been picked over. Foie gras on the other hand is the reason for some of these ducks existing. Sort of like shark fins or rhino horns or baboon noses. I think that is what the issue is. If foie gras were like oxtails, there wouldn't be the uproar about it. But it is still part of the now dead animal. It can't be transplanted and it can't be sold. It is wasted. They will figure that out.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Let's at least have some consistency here. I propose that any legislator who votes to ban foie gras should also be mandated to give up eating any commercially raised meat, eggs, and dairy; stop wearing any leather or other animal skin; and not use any item, bone china for example, that contains animal by-products.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Also, remember that Sonoma is a very very very small part of this larger thing we call America, which itself is only a fraction of this little blue marble we are stuck to...

A lot (but not all) of California's poultry is raised in Sonoma County, so banning the production of it here will have somewhat of an impact on supplies. This is a very anti-growth (anti-freeway, anti-Indian gaming casino, that sort of thing), pro-environmental (anti-logging; no grading of hillsides for vineyards if it could hurt a nearby river) county. It will be interesting to follow...

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I talked to a friend on the City Council last night who knew nothing about this rumor - it doesn't mean that there isn't a faction out there who will try and get it addressed by the council, but right now it is just rumor.

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After the presentation, the mayor said he had "no intention of bringing the issue to council."

An irony is that the main proponent of the petition that was presented, one Susan Corso, is proprietor of a local fish and chips shop, where she makes her living by selling murdered fish!

I'm in San Francisco, and I'll admit to being politically liberal on most social issues, as indeed are most of my friends in Sonoma, but I have no truck with terrorists, and I really hope the Sonoma city council will not be coerced by the action of criminals and their lunatic friends into unwise and ridiculous legislature. Otherwise, the terrorists will have won.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving,

Squeat

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she makes her living by selling murdered fish!

I'll admit to being politically liberal on most social issues

I'll admit to the same thing, but by God I'm no fish murderer! :shock::wacko:

All of the fish I consume had a fair, fighting chance and if they were too stupid to bit that Deadly Dudley than they deserve to be skinned out and eaten. :laugh:

Delicious Deadly Dudleys for Fish Catching Excellence

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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This isn't about foie gras The motivation is a pathology that wants to deny that as a species we use aggression towards others in the service of our own pleasure. Foie Gras just happens to be the scapeduck. It would be a pathetic ruling.

I'm going to order a whole lobe for dinner tonight.

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I've never even been able to afford the stuff, but I still lead a full and worthwhile life. Even if it goes away in more than that 200 square mile area, I think we as a species will survive.

I suspect that this will be the prevailing attitude as the issue, increasingly, comes up for votes around the country and the world. Foie gras is for a few rich people--so who cares? It IS--on its face--a tough thing to defend. Try to picture any self-interested public figure essentially saying, " Cruelty to animals? Force feeding cute little ducks (or geese)--for an elitist gourmet treat? I'm FOR IT!" Not likely to happen.

The production of foie gras is already illegal in Australia and New Zealand (countries which pride themselves on their food scene). I don't know what the UK situation is--but suspect that the current is headed in a direction similar to Sonoma.

No big deal? That a vital culinary tradition--central to French cuisine--dating back to Roman times is imperilled? As goes California--often goes the rest. (As I have found everytime I each for my smokes at a saloon in NYC. )

On a more close to home note, you might cast your eyes up to the D'Artagnan ad at top of page--a business BUILT on foie gras production and related products. If, for instance, D'Artagnan can't sell foie gras and foie gras products, the potential ripple effects on the viability of the rest of their line could be extremely destructive to both the company--and to the many, many restaurants who depend on them. At the very least, chefs from Gascony will be less inclined, I would think, to relocate to a place where they have to cook with one arm tied behind their backs. Our pates and terrines at Les Halles will become a lot less interesting. Products that emanate from foie gras production--ie" magret, legs for confit, duck bones, duck blood, duck giblets, duck rilette could be harder--and more exepensive to find. (As these--in the Hudson Valley anyway) are by-products of animals bred specifically for foie gras.

It IS a big deal.

Coming from Florida - a state which has a constitutional amendment protecting pigs - and a constitutional amendment banning those smokes in bars - and who knows what else after the next round of 50 proposed constitutional amendments on next year's ballot - I agree 100% with your thoughts - and share your pain.

I was only in Gascony once - but the people there cram some of the finest eating in the world into a very small geographical area. And the highlight is of course foie gras - from geese - not ducks. I was very fortunate to have my first experience with foie gras at the Hotel de France when Andre Daguin was the chef. He was a friend of a friend - and he spent the evening introducing me and my husband to the culinary delights of Gascony.

For those of you who don't know - his daughter - Ariane Daguin - is one of the principals in D'Artagnan. I have dealt with D'Artagnan for quite a few years as an individual non-commercial consumer. The outfit doesn't only make good products. It seems to be very honest. When listeria was found in one of its factories a few years ago (the listeria caused a few deaths) - it recalled everything that came out of that factory - and told everyone about the recall. People like me who had only bought a few items for the holidays were notified - and we got refunds. The listeria incident almost drove the company into bankruptcy - but I think the company's honesty in dealing with its customers brought a lot of them (including me) back into the fold.

Anyway - I digress. I find an unfortunate degree of political correctness in high end restaurants these days. You can't eat these kinds of fish (whether it's redfish or swordfish) - or those kinds of meats (e.g., veal). Or chickens that haven't been allowed the same grazing area as a cow. And those who've never had the money to eat in high end restaurants (as evidenced by the message you got) - couldn't care less. So what will we be left with if current trends continue? On the high end -we'll be asked to spend a couple of hundred dollars eating artfully prepared raw or almost raw vegetables (which is apparently what some people in California are eating now). And - on the low end - people will just keep stuffing themselves with burgers and fries and pizzas - and more and more people will wind up being double-wides and triple-wides (that's what my husband and I call them - the increasing hordes of the obese in the US). Thanks but no thanks. I think I will sit home and eat my illegal cheese and foie gras from France - and enjoy my cigarette at the end of my meal. Robyn

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This isn't about foie gras The motivation is a pathology that wants to deny that as a species we use aggression towards others in the service of our own pleasure. Foie Gras just happens to be the scapeduck. It would be a pathetic ruling.

I'm going to order a whole lobe for dinner tonight.

Nicely said.

abourdain

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This isn't about foie gras The motivation is a pathology that wants to deny that as a species we use aggression towards others in the service of our own pleasure. Foie Gras just happens to be the scapeduck. It would be a pathetic ruling.

I'm going to order a whole lobe for dinner tonight.

I plan to cook a whole lobe, tonight and at least once a week. We humans are omnivores. Let those who disagree eat cake!

Ruth Friedman

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Well, I'll eat anything with four legs, or flies, swims or crawls myself. You could probably make foie gras from my liver, with all the beer I drink. Nonetheless, I could care less if foie gras is banned.

I find a certain irony in the fact that menus that boast of serving free-range this or pasture-fed that also feature fois gras (any free-range fois gras ducks around?) Maybe Sonoma County, the capital of animal husbandry correctness, is just trying to be consistent. Or maybe trying to position itself as the "kinder, gentler" Napa.

Edited by Gary Soup (log)
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This isn't about foie gras The motivation is a pathology that wants to deny that as a species we use aggression towards others in the service of our own pleasure. Foie Gras just happens to be the scapeduck. It would be a pathetic ruling.

I'm going to order a whole lobe for dinner tonight.

I plan to cook a whole lobe, tonight and at least once a week. We humans are omnivores. Let those who disagree eat cake!

It is our destiny to be omnivores.

Nenetheless, I can't see that I have any responsibility to work toward ensuring the supply of foie gras to the folks who can afford it, when I myself have no real access to meat that hasn't been adulterated with chemical solutions.

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Sonoma county is home to one of the major foie gras producers in America. My guess is that the company is a major contributor to the economy. My other guess is that this "proposal" is not one being made by the establishment and that it probably doesn't have great appeal.

The Sonoma Foie Gras duck farm in San Joaquin County has been the target of multiple break-ins and a lawsuit charging animal cruelty. Sonoma Foie Gras sued the animal activists first, seeking an end to the trespassing and a ruling that the duck farm is legally and properly operated.

This proposal to the Sonoma City council appears to be just another form of harassment, by a fringe element that is getting more sophisticated and therefore a greater threat. There are a few things that are being overlooked in this thread. One is the the objection is being made to "force feeding" or "gorging." Note that "force" is a far more effective term if one wants to prejudice those who know nothing about the process. I've spoken in defense of foie gras on my site when the site was more active and I've defended the production, sale and eating of foie gras here on eGullet a number of times. I've yet to read a really well thought out reply by anyone with any knowledge of the process that didn't eventually reveal a strong prejudice against eating meat under any circumstances. "Gorging" is something waterfowl do seasonally in the wild. What the farmer is doing is controlling that normal process, and perhaps taking it a bit further. I say perhaps and I will admit that in the wild, the ducks gorge for survival. Here they are getting ready to die. That's just what happens to any animal raised for food. There's little evidence that gorging itself is either harmful or unpleasant to the animals. In France, on small farms, the ducks and geese come running up to the force feeder like junkies. If they don't do so on a large factory farm, I'd not be surprised. Raising animals under factory conditions may be immoral, but it certainly doesn't lead to better tasting animals.

For that reason I have a problem when the issue is couched in the terms Robyn used:

I find an unfortunate degree of political correctness in high end restaurants these days.    You can't eat these kinds of fish (whether it's redfish or swordfish) - or those kinds of meats (e.g., veal).  Or chickens that haven't been allowed the same grazing area as a cow. And those who've never had the money to eat in high end restaurants (as evidenced by the message you got) - couldn't care less.

The issue of endagered species is not related to animal cruelty and I'm not sure gorging or force feeding is either. It's a mistake to lump this all in under the politically correct banner. Each is a separate issue to be judged on it's own terms. Smoking is yet another red herring in this debate.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I could care less if foie gras is banned.

I find a certain irony in the fact that menus that boast of serving free-range this or pasture-fed that also feature fois gras (any free-range fois gras ducks around?)

Do you have any reason to believe the best foie gras is not from free range ducks and geese? The descriptions I've read of farms that raise the highest quality foie gras sound no different from those that produce free range chickens. You've posted an opinion based on the assumption that your question will be answered to support your contention, which is why I dismiss your opinion.

Let's assume for the moment that there is no free range foie gras. Would that be a good argument to ban foie gras and allow battery chickens? Might it be much more effective to ban the factory raising of all fowl? I could support that.

Perhaps the key to your opinion is based on the fact that you could care less if foie gras were banned.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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