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FOIE GRAS TO BE ILLEGAL IN SONOMA?


bourdain
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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.

Katherine, I don't see that you have any responsibility but to side with those who are working towards improving the quality of our food supply. By quality I mean both taste and healthfulness. By letting a fanatical group derail discussion of food, I think we're letting the important issues get sidetracked. Economic class postions are being drawn on the foie gras issue and the net effect will be to polarize opinion. There's also no question in my mind that meal and fowl raised without antibiotics and other chemicals are more expensive to raise. Those who don't support foie gras because they can't afford it, or are unwilling to pay the price even if they can afford it, may not pay the price for healthy chemcial-free meat and poultry either. That's why I think we all need to understand the issues and not let fanatics successfully influence the market. I do not believe I can eventually expect a group determined to ban the sale of meat, to work towards healthier meat. It works towards their position to have meat be bad for you.

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'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.

Survive yes, but thrive? We can survive without art or music as well. We should all want to do better than just survive. We survived prohibition. As a nation, we have a history of passing laws and turning our backs to the problem. Lysteria is a case in point. We ban raw milk and unaged raw milk cheeses, yet we have a higher incidence than countries that allow raw milk and fresh raw milk cheese.

Of course if we ban foie gras, the net effect will be for the price to rise when and where it is available. Since I've first discovered foie gras, the price has dropped considerably and it has started to appear on menus all over the country. It is no longer restricted to haute cuisine restaurants nor to those on the coasts.

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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BTW, the production of foie gras is illegal in Canada, save for Quebec.

The production is illegal, but how about the distribution and sale? I've had foie gras in Vancouver, but it was some time ago.

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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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.

Katherine, I don't see that you have any responsibility but to side with those who are working towards improving the quality of our food supply. By quality I mean both taste and healthfulness. By letting a fanatical group derail discussion of food, I think we're letting the important issues get sidetracked. Economic class postions are being drawn on the foie gras issue and the net effect will be to polarize opinion. There's also no question in my mind that meal and fowl raised without antibiotics and other chemicals are more expensive to raise. Those who don't support foie gras because they can't afford it, or are unwilling to pay the price even if they can afford it, may not pay the price for healthy chemcial-free meat and poultry either. That's why I think we all need to understand the issues and not let fanatics successfully influence the market. I do not believe I can eventually expect a group determined to ban the sale of meat, to work towards healthier meat. It works towards their position to have meat be bad for you.

If there were something I could do to improve the quality of meat to myself (remember, last year at this time there was beef and pork available that were not pumped with price-enhancing chemical solutions, so we're not talking $$$ to raise better cattle on this particular issue-and who got paid off to allow this to be done?), then I would gladly do it. I would note, however, that my putting energy or effort into ensuring that foie gras remain available in this way will not affect the quality of meat I have available to purchase, nor do I expect a single foie consumer to make a corresponding effort on my behalf.

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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.

Your last statement would be correct, except I was making an observation rather than expressing an opinion. The touchy-feely descriptions on restaurant menus of how some of the animals are raised are meant to impute humaneness as much as superiority of flavor and texture. There may well be "free range" foie gras ducks around; however, the menu writers are cagey enough (no pun intended) to realize that using such a description might produce an unwanted dissonance.

I find hypocrisy a lot more appalling than what someone chooses to do to a duck's vital organs.

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I would like to add that the perception that foie is for rich folks only adds fuel to the fire. Foie has, in recent years, appeared on many restaurant menus that cater to affordable experiences outside the typical sphere of culinary influence that its normally associated with (i.e., haute cuisine). You know that foie gras has arrived in the mainstream arena when you start seeing foie appearing in places like Florent, Gramercy Tavern and Annisa.

Soba

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It would not surprise me if it passes. Sonoma is a pretty liberal county.

It disturbs me even more to see 'liberal', and undefined at that, equated with a government inserting itself, and for craven, cowardly, self serving reasons - like re-election - into the position of a scary social arbiter, with grave consequences for livelihood and personal safety, as well as large fines for the hemorrhaged public coffers.

There are names for governments that can develop from trying to control behavior in "insignifigant' issues like these, and they have ugly track records all over the history books. And that name is not 'liberal'.

I am a little more concerned about the consequences to us as a society from one more minute of the Patriot Act than I am from a ton of pate de foie gras.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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The touchy-feely descriptions on restaurant menus of how some of the animals are raised are meant to impute humaneness as much as superiority of flavor and texture. There may well be "free range" foie gras ducks around; however, the menu writers are cagey enough (no pun intended) to realize that using such a description might produce an unwanted dissonance.

It's possible I am just too dense or literal not to see what you see. It is equally as possible you are reading far more into a menu than anyone intended. A third possiblity is that we eat at entirely different restaurants.

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 love fois gras, but rarely have it. It has, however, made my life just that much better.

Last night's Thanksgiving (re-run) episode on "South Park" had the "Cruelty Free Slaughtering" truck full of turkeys headed for the turkey factory. They were all led into a big room, door closed, lights dimmed when a movie screen began to show them a peaceful soothing film of a country side. While all their heads were tilted up toward the screen, a giant flat circular blade emerges from the side wall and slices off each head in a second. :shock: Luckily, Gobbles, Timmy's physically challenged turkey who's head drags on the floor, was saved!

Quote from Bux:"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."

So true Bux.

Nonetheless, I could care less if foie gras is banned.

Gary, I believe you couldn't care less.

We kill the animals we eat, right? We just don't want to hear about it, right? Don't show me those documentaries on how our cattle and poultry (notice it sounds less cruel than saying big sad eyed cows and farmer-in-the-dell lambs,piggies, ducks, geese and chickens) are crammed into pens, fed shitty food and chemicals and each other, hosed off, chopped up, plastic sealed and labeled.

I love meat and I'm selfish. I'm not givin' it up. If you don't like it, don't eat it.

A lot of people get all wierd when organs are discussed. They eat the ribs, shoulder, ass, leg etc. And what's in those hot dogs? But head cheese?! Intestine? Liver?! My husband rolled his eyes when I said they were skimpy on the giblets this year. One liver, one giblet, one neck, no heart! It's my favorite part since I was a kid. Giblets simmered for a couple of hours in a rich celery garlicy oniony turkey stock, sliced thinly, eat at the counter while making all the other Thanksgiving dishes. (saved some for gravy)Can't get anything better.

I don't really care how my turkey lived or died. I'm assuming it was raised on one of those farms and cruelly killed. I doubt if he was treated to dinner and a show before dooms day. I don't think he gave a shit.

I live on 4 acres of organic land in CT. It may be time to buy my own geese. But I won't call it force feeding. It will be known as the highly suggested buffet .

JANE

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I would like to add that the perception that foie is for rich folks only adds fuel to the fire.  Foie has, in recent years, appeared on many restaurant menus that cater to affordable experiences outside the typical sphere of culinary influence that its normally associated with (i.e., haute cuisine).  You know that foie gras has arrived in the mainstream arena when you start seeing foie appearing in places like Florent, Gramercy Tavern and Annisa.

Soba

I guess we have different views of what "mainstream" means.

If you consider Gramercy Tavern mainstream, then by your definition it is.

For me, 'mainstream' would be for me to know it was available in local restaurants, (local to me, not to you), typical local restaurants that is, not just those as expensive as Gramercy Tavern, which is very high end in my town, and also know where I could purchase it locally, too.

Anybody who could afford to eat at any of those restaurants on a regular basis is considerable richer than most of the people I know.

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It may be time to buy my own geese. But I won't call it force feeding. It will be known as the highly suggested buffet .

Eeeexcelllent :laugh::wink:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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Something that I did not realize was that Williams-Sonoma has stopped carrying foie gras in their catalog, due to pressure from animal rights groups. I thought this was cowardly and stupid, especially considering that they continue to carry numerous animal products, and told them so. If you would like to make a comment, their feedback page is here.

Walt

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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I would like to add that the perception that foie is for rich folks only adds fuel to the fire. Foie has, in recent years, appeared on many restaurant menus that cater to affordable experiences outside the typical sphere of culinary influence that its normally associated with (i.e., haute cuisine). You know that foie gras has arrived in the mainstream arena when you start seeing foie appearing in places like Florent, Gramercy Tavern and Annisa.

That's a great point, Soba. To make an example, I was able to buy a "bloc de foie gras de canard" large enough to garnish ten portions of turkey last night. It cost only around 25 bucks, and I have some left over. Part of the increasing popularity of foie gras in America is that foie, along with related duck products, is no longer a rich man's food and is affordable in one form or another to just about everyone.

--

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I guess we have different views of what "mainstream" means.

If you consider Gramercy Tavern mainstream, then by your definition it is.

For me, 'mainstream' would be for me to know it was available in local restaurants,  (local to me, not to you), typical local restaurants that is, not just those as expensive as Gramercy Tavern, which is very high end in my town, and also know where I could purchase it locally, too.

Anybody who could afford to eat at any of those restaurants on a regular basis is considerable richer than most of the people I know.

Florent is a glorified diner located in the meatpacking district in New York City. Foie appears there in the form of rilletes (sp). You cannot deny, if you've ever been to Florent, that the restaurant is decidedly not "high end". I mean, for goodness sakes, meatloaf and hamburger deluxe make regular appearances on the menu along with grilled porkchops served with plum chutney and cassoulet. :wink: A dinner at Florent will not break your bank any more than a dinner at a typical diner will -- the only difference with Florent is that the restaurant serves a higher quality of food and provides a better atmosphere than you would find at most diners.

Annisa serves foie in the form of soup dumplings. Certainly within the realm of affordability, and it's nowhere near GT's league of expensiveness.

You can get foie gras lobes at $50 to $100 a lobe at certain specialty shops here in New York, but why would you want to when you can get a tub of foie gras mousse for a fraction of that price at Citarella? I'm sure you could find the same situation on the West Coast, in San Francisco for example. My point is that foie is within the reach of affordability for many people, and to perpetuate the notion that it's "for rich people only" is just wrong and serves no constructive purpose.

Soba

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Just to be clear, this is an issue before the town of Sonoma, not the County of Sonoma, so the actual legal effect of a ban would be comparatively small. That doesn't, however, reduce the soapbox value of the issue. Small town democracy in northern California can be great theater.

Charley Martel

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Gramercy Tavern is mainstream in that it's popular with tourists from all over the country and there's very little on the menu which most American's don't already understand. It's not every day lunch mainstream, it's high end fancy special occasion mainstream. Union Square Cafe, with it's slightly less expensive and even more accessible menu, is even more mainstream. That was the whole point to William Grimes' review of it in the NY Times. I had a wonderful cold terrine of foie gras at USC.

No one is saying that foie gras is lunch meat, only that it's become reasonably accessible and available to the mainstream, even if it's at the high end special occasion restaurant in the area. In France, over 90% of foie gras is consumed between Christmas and New Year's and those who only get to eat it two or three times a year, still care passionately about it.

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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Just to be clear, this is an issue before the town of Sonoma, not the County of Sonoma, so the actual legal effect of a ban would be comparatively small.  That doesn't, however, reduce the soapbox value of the issue.  Small town democracy in northern California can be great theater.

Well....that is very different! It appears you are right. Sonoma the town has 9,400 people in it, and no duck farms, just a town square surrounded by shops and restaurants and a couple of cool California history museums/ missions. Here's a background piece from last week's Chronicle and a piece from today's Santa Rosa Press Democrat which announces that the city council is not going to rule on the issue:

"But council members said they wanted no part of a food fight over foie gras.

"I think there's two places where this issue should be decided: One is in the court, and the other is in the marketplace," Mayor Dick Ashford said.

"It's not the job of the City Council to regulate what foods people eat," echoed Councilman Ken Brown, "as long as they're licensed by the state of California, (and) they pass the health codes of the county and the city."

"If people don't like it, just don't buy it," Councilman Doug McKesson said. "That's the way I look at it, and it will take its own course."

Sigh, there's just never a dull moment out here on the left coast. :wacko:

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Something that I did not realize was that Williams-Sonoma has stopped carrying foie gras in their catalog, due to pressure from animal rights groups. I thought this was cowardly and stupid, especially considering that they continue to carry numerous animal products, and told them so. If you would like to make a comment, their feedback page is  here.

Walt

My message to Williams-Sonoma at the link provided by Walt.

I've recently been informed, via a post on eGullet.com, that you've stopped

carrying foie gras in your catalog, due to pressure from animal rights

groups. I'd like to ask if this is true. If it's not, I'd like to make the

correction public. If it's true, I have no other choice than to boycott

your stores. I'll be happy to further explain and justify my position.

Their reply.

Robert Buxbaum,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding our Foie Gras. We received your

message and suggestions.  Currently, we do not carry this item in our

Catalog, Internet, or Stores. We base our inventory on demand and

seasonal only. Your opinions are valuable to us and have been forwarded

to the appropriate department for review. We appreciate your feedback

and will include your proposals in our considerations for future

marketing plans.

Regards,

Charles McCoy

Williams-Sonoma

Customer Service

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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In other words: "No, we don't carry it. And no, we're not going to tell you why."

It might have something to do with the fact that their new "flagship" store in San Francisco is right around the corner from Neiman Marcus, where the animal rights people traditionally smash windows on the day after Thanksgiving.

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I applaud the council members for their sensible response. Where is the response of the law enforcement authorities? I haven't seen that yet. Maybe it just hasn't made the news. The rule of law should prevail.

I was about to make some significant purchases from Williams Sonoma. I have suspended that decision. When legitimate businesses in this country bend to the will of a very small and fanatical minority, we may be in trouble. Same goes for Charlie Trotter et al, unless they have a true and personal moral commitment. That is a different deal altogether.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I was about to make some significant purchases from Williams Sonoma. I have suspended that decision. When legitimate businesses in this country bend to the will of a very small and fanatical minority, we may be in trouble. Same goes for Charlie Trotter et al, unless they have a true and personal moral commitment. That is a different deal altogether.

Williams-Sonoma has a long track record of perspicacity in marketing. Otherwise, who would pay their prices? I think it's safe to say they've already counted the votes on this issue, and know where the "small and fanatical minority" lies.

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You can get foie gras lobes at $50 to $100 a lobe at certain specialty shops here in New York, but why would you want to when you can get a tub of foie gras mousse for a fraction of that price at Citarella?  I'm sure you could find the same situation on the West Coast, in San Francisco for example.  My point is that foie is within the reach of affordability for many people, and to perpetuate the notion that it's "for rich people only" is just wrong and serves no constructive purpose.

I guess everybody missed my point. You can do all these things. I cannot do any of them unless I buy round trip tickets to NYC and overnight accommodations, which would truly break the bank. Which buying them at Internet prices with Fedex shipping would also do.

And I hardly live in a backwater.

Until it is actually available in my area, I will find it hard to believe that "NYC availability" = "USA mainstream".

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A few years ago the Smithsonian tried to put together an evening about Foie Gras. A few chefs were to prepare dishes and a local producer was going to give a lecture. The animals rights people were so loud that the event had to be canceled.

This occurred sometime in the fall. As a holiday gift the woman who is director of events gave out tins of foie gras to her coworkers. It was delicious.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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You can get foie gras lobes at $50 to $100 a lobe at certain specialty shops here in New York, but why would you want to when you can get a tub of foie gras mousse for a fraction of that price at Citarella?  I'm sure you could find the same situation on the West Coast, in San Francisco for example.  My point is that foie is within the reach of affordability for many people, and to perpetuate the notion that it's "for rich people only" is just wrong and serves no constructive purpose.

I guess everybody missed my point. You can do all these things. I cannot do any of them unless I buy round trip tickets to NYC and overnight accommodations, which would truly break the bank. Which buying them at Internet prices with Fedex shipping would also do.

And I hardly live in a backwater.

Until it is actually available in my area, I will find it hard to believe that "NYC availability" = "USA mainstream".

Without specifiying where you live, or giving us some rough idea of the state where you live, it's a little difficult to help you. Also see the sentence in my quote in bold (my emphasis) where I say you can probably find a similar example elsewhere outside of New York.

It probably is in your area -- it may be that you're not looking in the right place. :biggrin:

Although YOU cannot do these things, many other people can. With respect to its availability and cost in this day and age, foie is easily available and affordable to a vast cross-section of consumers. In fact, I'd say that ordering a tub of foie mousse from a place like Citarella would cost no more than your typical monthly cable bill, hardly something that would break anyone's bank. Perhaps the yardstick you're using to measure things is the wrong yardstick after all? :wink:

Regards,

Soba

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