Foie gras is made from the diseased, fatty livers cut out of young geese or ducks. The livers don’t become sick and bloated of their own accord. That requires human intervention, as in torturing the poor birds, then killing them.
I’ve described the process previously at Care2 Causes:
Foie gras producers call force-feeding “gavage,” and they start doing it when ducks are thirteen weeks old. Two to three times a day, [the Animal Legal Defense Fund] alleges, “an inflexible, unlubricated [ten-inch] tube is forcibly inserted into” the duck’s esophagus while she is restrained. The tube delivers way too much corn mash “directly into the bird’s stomach.” Every day a little more food is crammed in.
The process is painful and life-threatening. After four weeks of it, producers kill the baby birds who have survived and take out livers as much as eight times larger than normal. (What goes around comes around: foie gras causes disease, like amyloidosis, in humans.)
“Force-feeding birds is illegal in Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, most of Austria, and other countries.” And in California.
To protect birds’ welfare, California banned the production and sale of foie gras in 2004, effective 2012. An outfit called “Psycho Donuts” is so dedicated to the appalling “food” that it found a way around the law: giving the stuff away for free. The plan resulted from a skull session to devise an “outrageous thing we could do for National Doughnut Day,” said a chef who participated in the brain-storming.
Psycho Donuts completely wusses out from acknowledging what it is doing. Company official Jordan Zweigoron said, “our position is simply that we are Psycho Donuts, and innovating new and unique doughnuts is an inherent part of our DNA. We are not out to make any points, take any sides or make any statements,” according to local news site MercuryNews.com. So much for “outrageous.”
Now the company wants to sidestep the consequences of promoting animal cruelty. Otherwise it would acknowledge that its purpose is not just to come up with new products, but to sell and profit from them. When a business gives things away it makes a statement.
This isn’t the first time a dining establishment has flouted the California ban. For instance, a Sacramento restaurant offered a $21 brioche appetizer that included seared foie gras, the New York Times reported. The ruse was that customers paid for the strawberry rhubarb puree and bacon chip, while the foie gras was “complimentary.” The Times called the restaurant’s owner and chef “publicly defiant” — which Psycho Donuts is too, though it tries to cover up with mealy-mouthed denials.
Psycho Donuts isn’t alone in its cowardice. Some restaurants serve foie gras, but only to diners who know a secret code word. Those lucky enough to be in Los Angeles County are helped along by officials who announce publicly that “with budget cuts and our department being so short-staffed, enforcement is not something we can add to our plate right now.” It’s open season for scoff-laws.
The birds Californians are eating aren’t tortured in that state, but that makes little difference to the victims. California needs to find a way to stop businesses from making a mockery of its law.
Photo credit: Purestock/Thinkstock