Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

FOIE GRAS TO BE ILLEGAL IN SONOMA?


bourdain
 Share

Recommended Posts

I thought I would advise everyone that today is the day that the vote goes to the California Assembly -- if it passes, the production of foie gras will become illegal in California (although not immeidately).

I'll keep you all apprised.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those of you reading along at home, the amended bill would do the following things:

Bans the force feeding of animals to produce foie gras, starting in 2012. New to the bill is an immediate ban on any company not already producing foie gras from ever producing it! That's right, if I force fed a duck in my own backyard, I could be fined $1000. Bans the sale of foie gras in California. You could still bring your own foie gras non-commercially, so it looks like for me foie gras is about to become like raw-milk cheese.

My representative, even though I sent him a strongly worded letter, still voted for the bill. Ass.

Walt

[edit to add immediate]

Edited by wnissen (log)
Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The writing has been on the wall with this one ever since the Assembly released their analysis. They based most of their research on the EU working group's analysis, which some argue was predisposed to disapprove of foie gras. The original source materials (say, from Gerard Guy's group) are more neutral.

Even Guillermo at Sonoma Foie Gras has resigned himself to this, and as someone earlier pointed out, will be looking for ways to produce foie gras without force-feeding (some research on this has been done before, by the way, but I don't think PETA and all will accept lobotomies as a viable alternative). I wish him luck; foie gras as we know it today (with the funnel and food as opposed to just pushing food into a goose) has been around for 2000 years.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Relax, you guys will have EIGHT YEARS to stuff enough of the stuff down your gullets to burst your own livers. ("What a way to go!" she wrote.) If not, I'm sure there will be a rogue nation someplace that will provide it (not in the EU, though, so there may be a diminution in cachet).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Considering that the EU has given France and Hungary a 15-year mandate to come up with more humane methods of producing foie gras or face a ban

Do you have a reference on this, out of curiosity? I had read that as well, but when I asked people in France who study foie gras (I'm writing an article about the ethics of foie gras), they said that it wasn't so much a ban in 15 years on force-feeding as it was that they were required to study alternate methods (see Dr. Alexander's comments at the end of the EU document you cited earlier). What will be banned (I forget the timeline) is battery-style cages, common in many large-scale European facilities, though not in any of the three American companies. Even Dr. Broom, one of the authors of the EU document, didn't mention an outright 15-year ban, so I'd love to get something concrete on this.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have a reference on this, out of curiosity? I had read that as well, but when I asked people in France who study foie gras (I'm writing an article about the ethics of foie gras), they said that it wasn't so much a ban in 15 years on force-feeding as it was that they were required to study alternate methods (see Dr. Alexander's comments at the end of the EU document you cited earlier). What will be banned (I forget the timeline) is battery-style cages, common in many large-scale European facilities, though not in any of the three American companies. Even Dr. Broom, one of the authors of the EU document, didn't mention an outright 15-year ban, so I'd love to get something concrete on this.

Sorry, I may be wrong about the timeline of the EU ban. I had 7 years in mind, but then that may have been the original California proposal. I also have no idea of what kind of teeth the EU panel has. I haven't studied the political aspects of all this very seriously, I just enjoy parrying with people who invest such a sillly (IMHO) matter with life-and-death seriousness. And I'll confess that I DO like thinking that the creatures that will make the ultimate sacrifice for my dining pleasure have been cut a little slack in their brief lives, and not been subject to any more tampering from mad scientists than your run-of-the-mill Olympic medalist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I may be wrong about the timeline of the EU ban. I had 7 years in mind, but then that may have been the original California proposal. I also have no idea of what kind of teeth the EU panel has. I haven't studied the political aspects of all this very seriously, I just enjoy parrying with people who invest such a sillly (IMHO) matter with life-and-death seriousness. And I'll confess that I DO like thinking that the creatures that will make the ultimate sacrifice for my dining pleasure have been cut a little slack in their brief lives, and not been subject to any more tampering from mad scientists than your run-of-the-mill Olympic medalist.

7 years was definitely the (amended) timeframe for California (that's what it took to get it to pass). But I've read of this 15-year timeline in the EU as well, but the news articles I've read don't seem to jibe with what the various foie gras players are saying. Of course, misinformation about foie gras runs rampant; most articles I've read have at least one and often more factual errors (see above comment about "few farms" in California).

People do seem to get more incensed about foie gras than other forms of husbandry, or even agriculture in general (the conditions that immigrant workers live in, for instance), but I don't feel that food should be banned (especially when the one producer in the state is using absolutely the most ethical techniques known for raising foie gras). The bill would've seemed more appropriate (though still unfortunate) if they banned force-feeding rather than the production and the sale of f.g., though I haven't checked yet to see if the bill made it through the Assembly with the ban on sales still in place.

Anyway, I'll be curious to see what the governor does with this bill. He might see it as a way to throw a bone to the left, since he's at constant loggerheads with them. He loses little by signing it into law (see comments about small percentage of population that actually eats it), but a lot more people will be outraged if he vetoes it.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just wish there weren't so much misinformation about foie gras out in the public consciousness so that people could make real decisions about it. And that's from both sides of the issue. That's what I find most annoying about this bill, is that it's passing based more on emotion than reason.

But one could say that about virtually every topic, I suppose. Not everyone has the motivation to heavily research every single issue, so we naturally rely on filters who obviously have their own agendas.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just wish there weren't so much misinformation about foie gras out in the public consciousness so that people could make real decisions about it. And that's from both sides of the issue. That's what I find most annoying about this bill, is that it's passing based more on emotion than reason.

But one could say that about virtually every topic, I suppose. Not everyone has the motivation to heavily research every single issue, so we naturally rely on filters who obviously have their own agendas.

I perceive that most of the unreasoning emotion has been displayed by the proponents of FG, but then you have your own filter. I think that the vast majority of people find foie gras so remote from their lives thet if there is the slightest hint of there being something unsavory (so to speak) about foie gras it might as well as be banned. That's enlightened disinterest, not emotion.

The most dispassionate discussion of foie gras I have encountered was in the EU white paper I cited upthread, and although it had mixed conclusions, it certainly wasn't an exoneration of the practice.

I think the operative principle is "When in doubt, through it out."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I perceive that most of the unreasoning emotion has been displayed by the proponents of FG, but then you have your own filter.

I've seen it on both sides of the argument, to be honest.

I think that the vast majority of people find foie gras so remote from their lives thet if there is the slightest hint of there being something unsavory (so to speak) about foie gras it might as well as be banned. That's enlightened disinterest, not emotion.

Which makes one wonder about those same people being deaf to complaints about pigs and poultry. The mortality rates for chickens in this country are vastly higher than even the worst fg producers, and they certainly lead worse lives than the ducks at any of the American producers, even considering the two to three weeks of force-feeding. And pigs are so horribly treated they make poultry farming look humane. So if it's distant and unsavory, ban it, but if it's close to home and unsavory, ignore it? That's what drives me bonkers. :blink:

But I think you're right that people consider foie gras a distant concept, and so it's easy to just say, whatever, ban it, who cares.

The most dispassionate discussion of foie gras I have encountered was in the EU white paper I cited upthread, and although it had mixed conclusions, it certainly wasn't an exoneration of the practice.

I considered it dispassionate when I first read it a long time ago, but now that I've talked to other people about it, and read it again or referred to portions, I'm less sure. I've talked to critics who argue that the comittee was predisposed to oppose foie gras (many of the English scientists involved have ties to the animal welfare community), but I've also heard that internal politics affected the results and made them less harsh. If you read the primary source papers, they are less conclusive than the EU document makes them sound, and it's easy to realize that the points in the EU document were often worded to emphasize the negative aspect first and only then temper it. But of course with scientific papers one often has to worry about what Stephen Jay Gould called "The Cordelia Effect" (though I've always thought "The Regan Effect" would be more appropriate)--the tendency to not report negative results.

But I agree that it covers a lot of ground, and it's definitely worth a read (though it's a bit dry in parts)

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the grounds that it's too goofy an issue to waste our Government's time on. There is definitely some merit to that argument. On the other hand, that's also a good reason for Ahnold to sign it and be done with it once and for all.

The SF Chronicle's toney food and wine sections are successful profit centers, so the Chron may have some enlightened self-interest influencing its editorial policies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The SF Chronicle's toney food and wine sections are successful profit centers, so the Chron may have some enlightened self-interest influencing its editorial policies.

That thought struck me as I read it as well, though I don't know that either of those two sections have covered foie gras (as an ingredient). Still, it was worded glibly enough to make one suspicious (the other arguments about what to sign and veto seemed more rational).

Of course, I imagine our governor doesn't pay much attention to the Bay Area's opinions, given the voting demographics in the recall election (the Bay Area was pretty much the one place not to encourage Schwarzzenegger into office).

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I suspect this has been mentioned upthread (probably by me). The Supreme Court of Israel - which is the third largest world producer of foie gras after France and Hungary - has banned foie gras production. The ban won't take effect until March 2005. And the 2 year "waiting period" is designed to allow the industry to adopt more humane production methods.

For what it's worth - I like foie gras - and don't feel strongly about the production methods. But if it disappeared from my life - I don't think I'd spend a lot of time missing it. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect this has been mentioned upthread (probably by me).  The Supreme Court of Israel - which is the third largest world producer of foie gras after France and Hungary - has banned foie gras production.  The ban won't take effect until March 2005.  And the 2 year "waiting period" is designed to allow the industry to adopt more humane production methods.

For what it's worth - I like foie gras - and don't feel strongly about the production methods.  But if it disappeared from my life - I don't think I'd spend a lot of time missing it.  Robyn

I on the other hand will become fantastically rich due to the fact if it's illegal it's plenty expensive. We are already setting up Ranches to produce this where it is available. Hell I introduce a set of feed your Ducks and Geese at home funnels; with children's models also. How do you detect Duck liver at check in? :laugh:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do you detect Duck liver at check in? :laugh:

Same way they detect Jinhua ham at customs. Dogs, and scanners.

"That'll be $50, please, and we'll take your dangerous contraband for disposal (you know? :wink: )."

You'll also be greeted like an old friend the next time your passport is run through a bar code reader. Allow an extra half hour for pleasantries.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Every Monday morning for over a year, I've been a guest on the local radio. For about a half hour I talk about farmers markets, local politics and offbeat music. I have never been late, never missed a show. This morning the host talked about the 15-person demonstration outside the French Laundry against foie gras, right after the news story. I was expecting to talk about how apples are in season and play a little Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys but instead I was defending the serving of foie gras, suggesting if this were a serious campaign, they should be attacking the pork and beef industries. But I couldn't make a point because the host told me (and the newsreader who admitted foie gras was "yummy") that we had out heads up our butts. On the air! She was actually yelling at me. I tried to make light of it and switch subjects but she wouldn't let it go, yelling louder until I would agree with her.

I thought about a line in a movie I had just heard and could adapt- "Your opinions are like treasures. Bury them!" but I restrained. I have a local business and no matter what side of the fence one is one, it wouldn't do me any good to get in a fight with my hostess.

Rather than get in a fight, I left in the middle of the broadcast. She has every right to hate the process of making foie gras but she crossed a line for me and she did it on the air. I guess my point is that this is a very emotional issue. I wish they had the same kind of guts to tackle the pork industry rather than a lone artisan producer of foie gras.

The funny thing is all this does is make me want to eat foie gras more!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The funny thing is all this does is make me want to eat foie gras more!

"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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot of people like you and they will have what they want no matter how many laws are enacted.

I just posted in the other thread on this subject as I can see that if a lawful product is not available we will have the underground "black market" stuff which a certain segment of our population will be happy to provide and will happily make a lot of money doing it. 

There'll be at least one legal source. Consumers can still order it online. They could probably even order it and work with a restaurant to prepare it. As long as they're not ordering it from in-state, I don't think any laws are broken.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There'll be at least one legal source. Consumers can still order it online.

Derricks, what is that one legal source? Since there is a similar initiative occuring in France and production has already been stopped in many European countries, who will be left to produce it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Derricks, what is that one legal source? Since there is a similar initiative occuring in France and production has already been stopped in many European countries, who will be left to produce it?

Good point. I was thinking of 2012 (when you'll hopefully still be able to order from Hudson Valley), not necessarily 2020 (when an EU ban may or may not kick in). Most of the European countries that stopped production didn't really produce any to begin with (Poland being the notable exception), and the ones that still do have at least a grace period until 2020. I think getting it banned in France without the EU's mandate will be tough. Not impossible, of course.

I imagine there'll still be plenty of places that step up to producing it. China? South America? There are a lot of countries out there (not that SA is a country, of course :smile:). I feel like some is produced in China, come to think of it, but it's been almost a year since I read that book (Serventi's Le Livre du Foie Gras). I also can't imagine big livestock states here banning the production and sale unless there's a national initiative.

So I don't think it will necessarily be outlaws who get it, but it might require a bit more work. Of course, if it can't be sold in CA, that means you'll never eat it in a restaurant without providing it yourself. I wonder how that applies to the various "underground" restaurants? I guess they're operating outside the law anyway.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...