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  • pinitbutton Foie Gras Ban in California, Really?

by Sophie Gayot


In a little more than a month, on July 1st, 2012, foie gras will be illegal in California.


Here is what California Senate bill No. 1520, signed on September 29, 2004, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, says (extracts):
CHAPTER 13.4. FORCE FED BIRDS
25980. For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
A bird includes, but is not limited to, a duck or goose.
(b) Force feeding a bird means a process that causes the bird to consume more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily. Force feeding methods include, but are not limited to, delivering feed through a tube or other device inserted into the bird’s esophagus.
25981. A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size, or hire another person to do so.
25982. A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.


A highly organized activist group convinced the lawmakers in Sacramento that gavage of ducks and geese is animal cruelty. Their agenda was supported by emotion and propaganda, instead of relying on the most current science, and understanding of a duck or goose anatomy. Did they forget that nature itself created this process? Before long migrations, ducks and geese naturally and safely stuff themselves with large amounts of food, which is stored as fat in their liver and skin, and significantly enlarges and fattens them. As they don’t have gag reflexes, it does not hurt them to swallow large foods, and the process does not impair their breathing. Producing foie gras is just a practice that takes advantage of the animals’ natural features.


After two years of foie gras being banned in Chicago, the decision was overturned in 2008. Mayor Richard Daley called the ban “the silliest law” the Council ever passed, and complained to the Chicago Sun-Times: “We have children getting killed by gang leaders and dope dealers. We have real issues here… And we’re dealing with foie gras?”


Watch my exclusive video with Ariane Daguin, owner of D’Artagnan; Michael Ginor, co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras; and Ana Huson, founder of Pre-Fixe.com, to learn more.


California’s top chefs have started the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, abbreviated C.H.E.F.S., to fight the ban. Join them by signing the petition against the ban at
http://chefstandards.com/support-humane-ethical-farming-standards/


Are we going to relive years of prohibition and contraband in 2012 with foie gras?


And of course, your comments are very welcome below, whether you are for the ban or against it.


You can click on each photo to enlarge.



23 Comments »

  1. I am against the ban. Black market foie will cause more suffering to birds than regulation. Right now, there are severely terrible crimes going on in this state that need government attention. Right now, I can walk three blocks and find 6 unregulated pot shops. The street behind me is chock a block with gang members and drug dealers. I teach Special Ed Kids in an underfunded school in a struggling district who are served in an underfunded foster and youth care agency. Let’s spend our money on these issues, rather than banning a luxury meat most people can’t afford and others (silly people they are) won;t even want to eat.

    Comment by Diana Davis — May 25, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  2. Fortunately, God was a CHEF not a VEGAN.

    Comment by Pascal Besset — May 25, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

  3. This is a Silly Law!!!!

    Comment by Chris Hayden — May 27, 2012 @ 9:56 am

  4. Arnold is an idiot. Came to CA as a governor, and he left the state as a governor after we found it he had a child with his maid. WHAT A JOKE THIS ACTOR!

    Comment by Andre Plessis — May 27, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

  5. Taking advantage of the natural process you say? I notice you didn’t mention anywhere that ducks preparing for migration (which foie gras ducks never prepare for) enlarge their livers only 1.5 to 2 times the normal size, much like a whale does before making long migratory trips. In contrast, foie gras ducks, at death, have livers 10 to 12 times the natural size. This disparity alone points to the fact that no migratory duck would ever eat this much because it would not be able to fly! This is obvious by the footage showing foie gras ducks that cannot even support their own body weight near the end of the force-feeding process.

    Inhumane, cruel, and most of all, UNNATURAL. That’s the reality of foie gras.

    Comment by DannyH — May 28, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  6. I’m always very disappointed when I see the influence of lobbies in the US.
    Foie gras like bread and wine is a pure sign of civilization. It started with the egyptians and the romans who noticed that wild ducks started to feed themselves and gaining a lot of fat before their annual migration. Noticing that duck’s liver tasted soooo much better that way, they reproduced the phenomenon by giving them figs and cereals. As duck liver was kosher, the jew community developped this fine product in France and Europa. I love America and California is a wonderful State. But I can’t stand the idea of a regressing people. Banning foie gras is destructing an alimentary “Oeuvre d’art”. It’s almost as serious as the destruction of Banian buddhas by the talibans. Be careful… Ignorance might lead you to terrible misjudgment!
    Please don’t let californians be the hostages of barbarian lobbies. Let them just CHOOSE wether they want to have some foie gras or not. Californians are well educated, each one of them can choose for itself. But feel educated doesn’t mean well informed!
    Your fight is right.

    Comment by Vincent FERNIOT — May 29, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

  7. Foie gras like bread and wine is a pure sign of civilization. It started with the egyptians and the romans who noticed that wild ducks started to feed themselves and gaining a lot of fat before their annual migration. Noticing that duck’s liver tasted soooo much better that way, they reproduced the phenomenon by giving them figs and cereals. As duck liver was kosher, the jew community developped this fine product in France and Europa. I love America and California is a wonderful State. But I can’t stand the idea of a regressing people. Banning foie gras is destructing an alimentary “Oeuvre d’art”. It’s almost as serious as the destruction of Banian buddhas by the talibans. Be careful… Ignorance might lead you to terrible misjudgment! Please don’t let californians be hostages of the barbarian lobbies decisions.
    Let the californians, civilized and educated people choose for themselves! Mr Schwarzenegger is probably the hostage of the ultra organic and vegetarians lobbies. Too bad.

    Comment by Vincent FERNIOT — May 30, 2012 @ 12:30 am

  8. I never realized the foie gras community was so flushed with history buffs and experts on animal physiology! How dare you try to compare primitive choices made out of NECESSITY (for survival!) to those made selfishly and with complete disregard for the suffering of another living body on this planet! No matter how you dice it, this practice is CRUEL, and any practitioner in the field of animal science would agree that it is unnatural.

    Comment by Sallie W. — May 30, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

  9. Banning Foie gras will be a real problem! can’t believe this will happen, San Francisco is more civilized with all are wonderful restaurants!

    Comment by Donna Adams — May 30, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

  10. To say that foie gras is unnatural is really rather pointless. Marbled beef is not natural, and neither are navel oranges, most dogs, most roses, and many other common human pleasures and pursuits. This does not in itself make the practice cruel. In fact, many humans (as well as other species) enjoy eating well past need or satiety and actively pursue opportunities to do so. When more than 50% of Americans are overweight, and yet continue to overeat, it seems strange to believe that ducks and geese are so opposed to over-eating, or that we need to be so opposed on their behalf.

    Comment by Robert — June 4, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  11. I love foie gras! I am lucky enough to live in the foie gras are in France. I don’t think it should be banned. Ducks and geese actually don’t mind being fed the corn.

    Comment by sharon love — June 6, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  12. To use the justification that foie gras is “natural” just demonstrates how incredibly misinformed people are. There is a VAST difference between an animal intentionally (by its own free will) eating too much by CHOICE and an animal living its entire life in a metal prison, with a large tube shoved down its neck to forcefully dump food down its throat. I am not sure if people are truly that ignorant or if they just don’t give a damn.. in which case, it’d be easier for foie gras proponents to just admit they don’t care about the suffering of an animal.. there’d be no case for argument because they’d just simply be imbeciles, and we could all stop the debate & call it a day.

    Comment by Jessica Taylor — June 6, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  13. Banning foie in California is ridiculous. Californians should rise up against this food tyranny just like Chicago did and have the law over turned. There are way more important to fix in California and the US then this non issue. Foie rocks and must be eaten end of story. If you don’t like certain food don’t order it. If you don’t like a channel on TV or the radio you change it or turn it off. Ban Coke or McDonald’s. Chefs in Chicago continued serving foie Gras and eventually the ban was dropped. Go ban Monsanto people make your voice count for something relevant. Everybody who loves Foie Gras, say hell yeah!

    Comment by Hardcore Foodie — June 6, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  14. Are we kidding ourselves by letting this happen? Is it any more humane than farm raising fish and feeding them chemical pellets to enhance the color of their flesh? Or the way we process beef and pork which is always on the cusp of a major food borne illness. Well I guess before long in Cali, you’ll be seeing celebrity Chef’s meeting Gang bangers in seedy alley ways dealing in oz’s perhaps kilo’s of Foie Gras….Welcome to New World Order.This sucks!

    Comment by Chefs Life Apparel — June 7, 2012 @ 2:18 am

  15. As a vet nurse and former animal shelter and wildlife reserve employee, I can definately say it IS cruel and should be banned. I cannot believe everyone here would subject an animal to such treatment for the sake of a meal.

    Comment by Thomas — June 7, 2012 @ 7:23 am

  16. If the animal does it itself, why can’t they just leavea bucket of food in their cage? Why do they have to strap an apparatus to the animals head and force food down their throats?

    Comment by Thomas — June 7, 2012 @ 7:24 am

  17. Worst LAW ever! So much more important and crucial issues that need addressing in CA. #FAIL

    Comment by Cucina Calliste — June 9, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  18. It may sound terrible but the person that feeds the bird must be trusted even “loved” by the bird otherwize it WILL NOT EAT!!!

    Comment by Chef Baum — June 12, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

  19. This is a phenomenon that happens in Nature. before migrating, ducks and geese force feed themselves in order to enlarge their liver, so they can fly 9 – 10 hours a day without food.
    So there is nothing strange or “Barbaric” ( no pun intended) in doing so.
    Anybody who doesn’t like it should not eat it. but don’t ruin it for others.
    It seems to me that Arnold forgot about Nazi-Austria in the 40’s, and the rules and bans of the time!!!!

    Comment by Pascal — June 18, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  20. Two sides to every story. Here’s the other side: http://www.peta.org/issues/Animals-Used-For-Food/Foie-Gras.aspx

    Comment by Larry — June 21, 2012 @ 1:57 am

  21. Why not just produce “natural” foie gras by allowing the animals to gorge themselves — or won’t they?

    It is a cruel practice and I for one support the ban.

    Comment by Tim B — June 27, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

  22. Yes, the practice is SOOOOO cruel…. You know what else is pretty cruel? The videos on Nat Geo of lions, crocs, tigers etc… ripping other animals to pieces. Those seem like pretty cruel ways to get taken out. come to think about it, you tell me to get force fed and eaten by humans or to get mauled by a pride of lions, the choice seems pretty easy to me.. And I DO have a gag reflex, unlike those ducks n geese.

    Comment by Rich — August 4, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  23. At some point it is vital that u see how much needless suffering your appetite causes. Fois gras in this country is from induced hepatitis. The process is cruel beyond words. If you witnessed what goes on behind the windowless walls of factory farms or heard the shrieks of pain & protest before “humane” slaughter, I promise you would immediately become vegan. A plant based protein diet cleanses the body, adds years to your life, reverses heart disease & multiple types of cancers , & causes no pain or suffering to other thinking feeling species. Look to Dr Dean Ornish, Dr Michael Greger, physicians committee for responsible medicine, etc. I applaud the ban.

    Comment by BARB BOGAROSH — August 8, 2012 @ 10:50 am

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