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California Chefs Want Foie Gras Ban Repealed

California Chefs Want Foie Gras Ban Repealed

 

It was in 2004 that then Governor Arnold Shwarzenegger signed changes to California’s Health and Safety Code Section 25981-25984 banning the force feeding of birds for the purpose of enlarging their liver beyond normal size.  The law also makes it illegal to sell any product made through force feeding a bird to enlarge the liver beyond normal size.  That law is set to take effect July 1, 2012.

Even though the California foie gras industry has had eight years to change their ways, many chefs are making a last ditch effort to get the law repealed.  On Monday evening, May 15, 2012, owner and chef of Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica, Josiah Citrin, hosted a seven course tasting event.  With every dish containing foie gras, chefs from around the state made offerings of the French “delicacy.”

Spearheaded by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Restaurant Association, CHEFS (Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards) has started a petition to ask for the repeal of California’s foie gras ban.  Its website states CHEFS “…is an organization of California chefs, culinary professionals and supporters of sustainable and humane farming standards. We oppose the ban on foie gras, but support a broader standard for ethical treatment of animals and humane farming practices.”  So far about 100 California chefs have signed that petition.

Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President, said “I think their effort will be dead on arrival.” The only way to get the ducks and geese to overeat to the point of actually diseasing their livers – yes, that is what foie gras is: diseased fowl liver — is through force feeding three times per day for three weeks.  “Forcing them to eat more than they want is the problem,” said Pacelle.  The excess food causes the birds to grow at such an alarming rate they often cannot walk or stand properly and suffer severe pain from having an enlarged, diseased liver.

Amber Coon from APRL (Animal Protection and Rescue League) is not taking the chef’s attempts lightly. “We are very encouraged that the legislature came out very strongly, stating that they have no plans to overturn the ban. However, this is no time to sit back and claim victory,” Coon told me.  “Misinformation and outright lies are being spread by chefs that the ducks somehow don’t mind, or even enjoy the force-feeding process,” she added.

Activists have demonstrated outside restaurants that have been holding fundraisers to get the July 1st ban repealed in an attempt to counter misinformation spread by the chefs. Places like Melisse in Santa Monica, Cowboy Star in San Diego and The Haven Gastropup in Orange, CA.

Former California State Senator John Burton, who spearheaded the legislation in 2004, is having a difficult time understanding the chef’s current attempts.  “They’ve had all this time to figure it out and come up with a more humane way,” he said. “I’d like to sit all 100 of them down and have duck and goose fat – better yet, dry oatmeal- shoved down their throats over and over and over again.”

The question before us is how is it possible to create humane foie gras? How can a duck or goose liver be intentionally diseased through force feeding to create a liver 10 times the size of a normal one in a humane manner? “Humane” foie gras sounds like an oxymoron to me.  What do you think?

 

Related Reading:

Lawsuit Seeks Foie Gras Ban in U.S.

Say No to Foie Gras

Will Hawaii be Next to Ban Foie Gras?

 

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Photo of ducks used in making foie gras used with permission of APRL

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251 comments

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5:46AM PDT on May 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:11AM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

For lots of free info and links about the *many* benefits of vegetarianism/veganism (and the many problems with the production and consumption of meat), please visit (and share)

Eco-Eating at www.brook.com/veg

5:41PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

There is enough food in the world - a talented and creative chef would not need ingredients of cruelty.

3:34PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Stephanie J.
Yes chicken production is cruel, but two wrongs don't make a right,

3:23PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Let's be fair here. Try an experiment. Take the 100 complaining chefs and 100 pro foie gras people such as Stephanie J, and force feed them for three weeks. Make sure they can't stick their fingers down their throats to relieve the over full feeling that we all get to a lesser degree when we eat a bit too much. There shouldn't be complaints about this, after all the ducks/geese 'enjoy it and come running at feeding time' After three weeks, ask the participants how they feel. Then decide whether or not the ban should be overturned.

3:22PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Let's be fair here. Try an experiment. Take the 100 complaining chefs and 100 pro foie gras people such as Stephanie J, and force feed them for three weeks. Make sure they can't stick their fingers down their throats to relieve the over full feeling that we all get to a lesser degree when we eat a bit too much. There shouldn't be complaints about this, after all the ducks/geese 'enjoy it and come running at feeding time' After three weeks, ask the participants how they feel. Then decide whether or not the ban should be overturned.

12:37PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Do you all eat chicken? Conditions at most chicken farms are much worse than at those raising ducks and geese for foie gras. The ducks and geese actually come running for their food. Can't you think of a better cause? Since this attack on farmers who raise birds specifically for this delicacy, I have sworn to eat foie gras weekly. Hardly anyone eats foie gras, leaving this an easy target. There are only 2 producers in this country. Well, one now that the CA law has taken effect. Leave them - and me - alone. Find a cause deserving of your effort.

6:30AM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Foie Gras is a by-product of the barbaric, cruel torture of geese and ducks, and must be banned worldwide. There is no place for the sale of diseased livers from tortured creatures in the modern world. Ban the production and import of this disgusting product that is mainly the so called delicacy of the vulgar rich.

8:22PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

here's on for the ducks! chefs can get the hell over it!

9:06PM PDT on Jun 20, 2012

there's no way to make foie gras humanely. kudos to arnold for enacting the law banning it. too bad it took so long to take effect! poor little geese! people are so sick...

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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