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FOIE GRAS TO BE ILLEGAL IN SONOMA?


bourdain
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They have moved on from violence to using weapons provided by democracy and capitalism. They are making legislation work for them while the pro camp is merely protesting by making logically challenged arguments.

As a general rule, that's probably true, but I would argue that the press from the attacks on Sonoma Saveurs helped generate public support for the CA ban. I don't have any proof, but that was the impression I got. I would guess that Viva! USA (they helped draft the bill) saw an opportunity with the press and convinced John Burton to introduce it.

It's worth noting that the bill never went to the voting public; it _only_ went through the legislature. This is obviously not uncommon, but it's also different than putting the matter to the state's populace (which they did with the ban on horse meat).

This is quite straightforward as the issue is related to practices that fall under the category of animal cruelty. There is no requirement for it to come to the voting public. Under CPC, cruelty to animals is a criminal act. Laws against animal cruelty exist in most(probably all!) states. All you have to do is establish le gavage as cruel treatment of the ducks. Anyone familiar with California law can correct me if I am wrong.

The article is kinda inaccurate when it says that the whole thing is directed against Sonama Foie Gras and its owners. The 12 years moratorium is actually a victory for the foie gras people, imo.

As far as I am concerned the only tragedy that has occured is the involvement of the government even though it does not directly interfere with the dining preferences of the individual and it is through the perfectly acceptable route of legislating an industry.

I didn't understand this. How does it not interfere with the dining preferences of the individual? As of 2012, no one will be able to produce _or sell_ the products of a force-fed bird. So I couldn't get it in a restaurant if I wanted it and I couldn't buy it from my local butcher.

Does not affect them directly and I dont think it was ever meant to affect them directly. Now, the law punishes you when you have hard drugs in your system. This interferes with the individual's idea of recreation. Some countries do not wage war against drugs, some do. Some countries allow GM food on their shelves, some dont. Some countries enjoy *real* Brie, some cannot. You get the idea. The ban against French food imports have been lifted(quite prompty after this fiasco, iirc) and french foie can freely enter the country and consumed as can foie from canada etc. It has nothing to do with the eating public. The law is related to food production and animal cruelty. The law does not tell the public what to eat. The law is not in favour of the animal rights activists. The law is not against Sonama Foie Gras nor does it single out their owners. The Sonama folks enjoyed a monopoly in CA and the notion of them being 'targetted' is merely an unfortunate side effect of their unchallenged market monopoly.

Actually, we can form a Church of Gastronomy and register it as a religion that requires sacrifice of force fed ducks. Religious practices, as you well know, are protected under the First Amendement.

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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The article is kinda inaccurate when it says that the whole thing is directed against Sonama Foie Gras and its owners. The 12 years moratorium is actually a victory for the foie gras people, imo.

7 years by the way. Well, I think SFG would prefer that no ban go into effect, but by the time the bill was in its final revisions, SFG supported the bill (and some animal rights groups opposed it). The first change pushed the ban to 2012, but all the animal rights groups basically said they'd just start filing lawsuits against SFG. In the assembly, they added a clause to prevent any lawsuits in the interim. So they're protected for the time being.

And while I don't think the bill is targeted at Guillermo but instead at the concept of foie gras (otherwise, I think they'd just ban production), I'm sure the motives were very muddled because he is the sole producer in the state. Much of the debate of necessity involved him specifically. So did John Burton have it out for SFG explicitly? Probably not. Did In Defense of Animals, one of the proponents of the original bill and the people who attached Sonoma Saveurs in the first place? Probably. Viva! USA, who helped draft the bill? Probably not. But who knows what everyone's motivation was.

Does not affect them directly and I dont think it was ever meant to affect them directly. Now, the law punishes you when you have hard drugs in your system. This interferes with the individual's idea of recreation. Some countries do not wage war against drugs, some do. Some countries allow GM food on their shelves, some dont. Some countries enjoy *real* Brie, some cannot. You get the idea. The ban against French food imports have been lifted(quite prompty after this fiasco, iirc) and french foie can freely enter the country and consumed as can foie from canada etc. It has nothing to do with the eating public. The law is related to food production and animal cruelty. The law does not tell the public what to eat. The law is not in favour of the animal rights activists.

I think it's a fine distinction, but that did clarify your point. Just because no one in California will be able to sell me foie gras doesn't mean that I won't be able to get any. I can presumably order online from Hudson Valley or La Belle or, as you mention, French or Canadian producers (rather their importers). I wouldn't be arrested for possession.

Derrick Schneider

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

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

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Actually, we can form a Church of Gastronomy and register it as a religion that requires sacrifice of force fed ducks. Religious practices, as you well know, are protected under the First Amendement.

That is about the most brilliant suggestion I've heard! I'm all for it and am ready to file the appropriate documentation with the State! We can get Guillermo to be our Bishop (or would that be Pope?) and we can all be licensed priests. :biggrin:

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Actually, we can form a Church of Gastronomy and register it as a religion that requires sacrifice of force fed ducks. Religious practices, as you well know, are protected under the First Amendement.

That is about the most brilliant suggestion I've heard! I'm all for it and am ready to file the appropriate documentation with the State! We can get Guillermo to be our Bishop (or would that be Pope?) and we can all be licensed priests. :biggrin:

Satisfying the conditions to gain tax free status under the IRS definition of 'religion' is one step towards legally establishing yourself as a religion. During the Vietnam war, a landmark case, US vs Seegar, established how religion can be defined for those who refused to participate in the war(conscientious objectors). You dont need a 'God' or a 'Supreme Being' or even adherence to the 'traditional religions' to refuse the draft on the basis of religion, but 'beliefs' are essential. Later, in another landmark case, Welsh vs US, religious beliefs were also allowed to be 'political' in nature. You might be pleased to know that as a religion, the 'church'(there has to be a 'physical' church and a minimum number of people who attend the church as the 'congregation') probably doesnt have to pay any taxes on any property it purchases and foie gras farms can enjoy non profit status.

I should shut up while I am still ahead. I should also probably declare that I am only jesting.

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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Maybe someone can develop Leptin knockout ducks that would naturally overeat so they do not have to be force fed. The rodent strains and humans (rare, only a few cases) that have naturally occuring genetic mutations overeat and become obese. I think it would need to be done on the right strain of duck (Muscovy) so that they get fatty liver and not just a thicker fat layer under the skin (Pekin ducks). It could be a big money-maker based on the interest in maintaining a supply of Foie Gras.

Would PETA still object if the ducks are not gavage fed?

:wink: Reference for fat distribution on overfeeding :wink:

S. Davail et al. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 134:707–715, 2003.

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is there documentation on the process of the force feeding? the chef i currently work with said that the duck are not actually force fed that they come to the feed tubes willingly after you expand their stomachs.

either way it sucks. we are not at a point in history where we can outlaw just the production of the foie and call it quits, whats next? these peta freaks have nothing else to do? man, what a world. :wacko:

The complexity of flavor is a token of durable appreciation. Each Time you taste it, each time it's a different story, but each time it's not so different." Paul Verlaine

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is there documentation on the process of the force feeding? the chef i currently work with said that the duck are not actually force fed that they come to the feed tubes willingly after you expand their stomachs.

The whole ducks coming willingly thing is, well, not well documented from reliable sources. You can find anecdotal evidence that says it, but the ducks don't come running at Sonoma Foie Gras (my observations + New York Times observations + the ranch manager) and in fact one study has demonstrated that ducks are _much_ less likely than geese to voluntarily go to an area for gavage.

Michael Ginor (Hudson Valley Foie Gras) has been quoted as saying the ducks come running. 'Cause you know, there's a reliable source. Still, I find it surprising he never mentions it in his foie gras book that details his production methods _and_ addresses animal rights activists. I can think of a number of reasons for that. Most objective descriptions (not people in the industry) of visits to foie gras farms never mention it, though in all honesty some do.

On the other hand, nor do the ducks shy away. The EU report on the welfare of birds raised for foie gras has them actively avoiding the feeder, but this isn't borne out by other observations. Few reports mention the ducks running to the feeder, but fewer still (just that one, if you only count people who have visited foie gras farms) have them freaking out.

Here's the thing. Gavage is expensive. If you could get the ducks to willingly come running to the tube on a regular basis, you could probably figure out a way to skip gavage and charge a lot less (and incur less risk for yourself). You'd also have the killer app for foie gras, because no one bans foie gras, they all ban force-feeding. So I'm dubious of this opinion that ducks come swarming at the feeder in most facilities. Some ducks, sometimes, sure. But most ducks? In most facilities? I remain dubious.

Derrick Schneider

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

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

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is there documentation on the process of the force feeding? the chef i currently work with said that the duck are not actually force fed that they come to the feed tubes willingly after you expand their stomachs.

Oh, and I forgot. Every current producer force-feeds the birds. At the moment you always have to stick a tube in and push the food through. People are researching other methods, but there hasn't been much in the way of progress on that front (the tube has been around for two millenia; people are just now scrambling to find alternate methods, so it's probably not impossible, but it's a short period of time).

Derrick Schneider

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

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

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im not familiar with the term gavage. care to inform me? i also find it unlikely that they are "FORCE FED" it seems that it would take alot of cruel labor to force food into the animals mouth. then again i dont know, i originally had the vision of a bunch of ducks caged in with nowhere to go with tubes running straight in the mouth to feed but i found this is not the case.

it seems that as they are fed more and more they become more and more hungry because of the expansion of their stomachs, just like us. but the initial expansion must be forced.

The complexity of flavor is a token of durable appreciation. Each Time you taste it, each time it's a different story, but each time it's not so different." Paul Verlaine

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im not familiar with the term gavage. care to inform me?

Sorry. It's the French term for the force-feeding.

i also find it unlikely that they are "FORCE FED" it seems that it would take alot of cruel labor to force food into the animals mouth. then again i dont know, i originally had the vision of a bunch of ducks caged in with nowhere to go with tubes running straight in the mouth to feed but i found this is not the case.

Twice a day for two weeks (this is the norm; different producers have different schedules), a feeder enters the pen (or walks up to the small cage, but none of the U.S. producers use battery cages), inserts a tube down the duck's throat, pushes a button and dispenses up to a pound of food in about four seconds. The feeder removes the tube, and moves on to the next duck (at SFG, they keep about ten to twelve ducks in a pen, so the feeder grabs the next one). They don't get any other food in this period. That qualifies as force-feeding to me (that, and they're fed more than they would eat on their own in the same time period, though occasionally ducks/geese will eat more in one seating than they'd get in one feeding).

Whether it's cruel is, of course, much of the discussion. The birds don't have gag reflexes, and they have hardened esophagi because in the wild a duck or goose will eat any number of oddball things, including the typical bird thing of small rocks and pebbles. Still, the feeder does have to be careful not to puncture the esophagus; it's not _so_ sturdy.

But it is a lot of labor, hence the high cost of the ingredient.

Derrick Schneider

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

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

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