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FOIE GRAS FOOD FIGHT

Chicago Overturns Ban

Foie gras was allowed back on the menus of Chicago restaurants at the end of May 2008. The City Council voted 37-6 on May 13, 2008, to repeal the ban on the sale of foie gras, which had been in effect for nearly two years.

During the ban, some restaurants circumvented the law by giving away the controversial indulgence, rather than selling it. Meanwhile, dining establishments in the suburbs were still able to serve the delicacy without incident, as they were located outside the city jurisdiction. The Illinois Restaurant Association and a corporation owned by Chicago chef Allen Sternweiler of Allen’s had even filed a lawsuit claiming the ban was unconstitutional, but the case was dismissed by a U.S. district judge.

At the time, Chicago 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?"

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FEEDBACK


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Tuesday 01/09/2007 8:35 AM
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Foiegras is cruel. For mayor Daley to say that there are other more important issues here makes me think that he is missing the issue behind the finished product that is foie gras. It’s the cruelty to animals necessary to make the food that is really what the council members are against. If Daley doesn’t see that, or just doesn’t care, it makes me feel that he isn’t as compassionate of a mayor as I once thought.

Alana Grelyak—Chicago, Illinois

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Friday 11/10/2006 9:06 AM
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Anyone who believes it is acceptable to take an animal and, for every single day of its life, restrain it in filth, deprive it of every natural need, shove a tube down its throat, forcefeed it four pounds of grain/fat three times a day (the equivalent of 40 pounds for a human!), perforating its esophagus, breaking its beak, creating diseased organs and such abnormal weight that breathing is labored, walking is impossible and every minute alive is misery should have to experience this personally. THEN you can tell me that this so-called "luxury" food is something that we really need. (Particularly when a Chicago chef has created a remarkable, healthy, cruelty-free excellent substitute called "Faux Gras.")

It is incomprehensible that anyone would even try to justify this. Sometimes I am ashamed to be part of the human race.

Arlene Steinberg—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Thursday 10/26/2006 8:56 AM
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It is simply "delicious."

If you do not like it—do not eat it. You do not order it, the less we have to process and the more geese will be saved, but THINK…not everyone likes to be a vegetarian. Your rights end where mine begin.

Carlos Granthon—Washington, D.C.

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Tuesday 9/05/2006 11:13 AM
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Give me liberty AND foie gras!

The politicians in Chicago are all so crooked they will have to screw them into the ground when they pass-on.

Hal Van Horn—Viera, Florida

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Tuesday 9/05/2006 8:42 AM
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Non! (No!)

Catherine Davids—Chief Concierge, House of Blues Hotel Chicago

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Thursday 8/31/2006 1:04 PM
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I read today that the city has taken its first action against restaurants still serving foie gras. The chef at Block 44 was sent a warning letter from the health department after an anonymous caller reported them. The article said that Block 44 didn't want to waste its remaining foie gras stock, and served eight dishes with it three days after the ban. The letter to the restaurant warned of a $250 fine. I wonder who called it in? Was it a disgruntled employee or was a duck lover spying on the restaurant taking note of the contents of each served dish?

Eric Weiss—Gary, Indiana

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Sunday 8/27/2006 9:41 AM
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I agree with Chicago's mayor regarding foie gras...Not only do we as humans have a host of issues to solve with the suffering of people, even with the suffering of animals there is much more basic work to do, such as spaying and neutering pets and the barbarity of corporate/industrial animal farming. A few ducks and geese going through a feeding that looks horrible but to which they are at least somewhat genetically suited for a food item that serves a thin sliver of the population is not worth public debate - not yet at least. We have much to do before we reach "The Next Generation"-type utopia that would afford us the energy to argue over this.

Molly B. Goodwin—Charleston, South Carolina

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Thursday 8/24/2006 10:21 AM
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The production of foie gras involves torturing geese. It's a measure of how barbaric and uncivilized we are that we allow this to go on for the sake of people who like to think they are "gourmets."

Leslie Miller—Northridge, California

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Wednesday 8/23/2006 5:35 AM
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I find it interesting that Mayor Daley comes out now on his high horse for the newspapers and TV stations, now that the ban is upon us. But if he really felt that the ban was foolish, and that the city council should be focused on more important matters, he could have vetoed this foolish ordinance BEFORE it became law. Many restaurants here have already said that they will get around the issue by simply GIVING the fois gras away while charging $15.95 for the garnishes on the plate. Since the city council was more interested in grandstanding than actually stopping the serving of fois gras, the law only forbids the SELLING of fois gras in restaurants, not the SERVING of it.

BTW, the person who thinks that there are cannibals "abounding" in the "forests" of Africa needs to bone up on the subject.

Peter KuehnelIllinois

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 9:18 AM
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Will it be bacon but no eggs as the hens are all removed from the battery houses and free range hens cannot produce enough? Will it be lamb as they need to continue grazing on the green New Zealand hills and not go through the stress of a slaughterhouse? The list is endless. Could we consider shipping the instigators to an African forest where cannibalism abounds? Ridiculous!

Jan van ZylVirginia

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Monday, August 21, 2006 5:33 PM
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Unless the food police intend to ban everything from milk, veal, beef, and just about anything that people eat, targeting one food industry is idiotic. I doubt most of the objectors have every had foie gras as prepared in fine restaurants, but I imagine most of them would change their mindsit is the most delicious food on the planet.

Vegetarianism/vegan eating is also not free of an impact on other creatures or the planet. My father had several hundred acres of fruit trees, animals get killed in raising fruit, like gophers who hurt the trees. Jump on any bandwagon to feel good, but unless you plan to go out and live on seeds and berries, and wear clothes woven from grasses, there is no such thing as food production without impact on other people and animals.

Dean Riley

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Friday, August 18, 2006 6:21 PM
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Take a look how foie gras is made! It's sickening. If you love animal cruelty you will love foie gras!

Les Lewis

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 12:33 PM
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Sorry guys but you missed the boat on what this is all about. This is the old ploy of let’s stir people up to get donations or votes or your name in the newspaper. If the animal rights groups can’t get newspaper space they don’t make any money. If the politician can’t get his name in the newspapers he won’t win the election. So they try to figure out some “story” that will get people riled up, get them involved, then send out the donation letter or ask for the vote. There is a word for it – demagoguery – look it up. You don’t hear that word anymore. I wonder why? Anybody feel manipulated?

Randy Wise—Los Angeles, California

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:31 PM
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In comment to the ban on Foie Gras, I have to say that I too think that there are way more important issues at stake in the world than banning Foie Gras. In the quest for "political correctness" in the U.S. we seem to loosing [sic] focus of the real problems at hand. The killing of anything is not a pleasant action, nor should it be, but unfortunately everything that we eat that is good for us was once alive, even vegetables. So where do we draw the line, and what is next? No more meat, poultry or fish? Are we all destined to be vegetarians? And I'm sure someone somewhere thinks it is cruel to pluck carrots from the ground as well... Let's focus on ecological, economical, and social problems, as well as world unity and humanity to mankind before we monitor what people choose to eat. Remember that this country was built on the notion of freedom of choice. Personally I think it is what makes us a great nation.

Tracy Paxton, Village Imports, Los Angeles, California

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006 7:47 PM
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I'm a bit apalled by all the broo ha ha over foie gras. [sic]

I don't understand why it's always the few loud ones that dictate what the rest of the population enjoy. If the vocal few are that concerned, educate the populace and let everyone decide for himself or herself. It's not harmful like drugs or tobacco, so what's the big?

I keep hearing about torturing the ducks and geese, but everything I've seen on it makes their living conditions and quality of life seem pretty darned plush . . . even without comparing it to how other livestock are handled. Also, most of the bird is used for something, so there's very little waste.

There are way bigger fish to fry than banning foie gras. So why not just let everyone make a personal choice on whether or not to enjoy this delicacy?

Laura LeeAlhambra, California

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006 3:45 PM
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Luckily, the banning of foie gras quickly fixes a horrific practice of shoving food down the throats of defenseless animals. If it were only so easy to rid the world of gang and drug problems. In the mean time, people are learning where the food on their plates comes from, which is as important, if not more important than its taste. It's difficult to imagine humans wanting to eat foie gras once they are made aware of the truth.

Tracy—Los Angeles, California

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Monday, July 31, 2006 6:59 PM
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This is just ridiculous. The Foie Gras Industry is just a much easier (less affluent) target then the Poultry, Beef, Pork, etc producers. Non-biased experts agree the production of foie gras is no more cruel to animals than most other production processes - in some cases, it is much less cruel. If you are a non-vegetarian, you are a hypocrite if you eat other animals mass-raised and slaughtered and not goose and duck liver. Kosher-killing and free-range and the like might might give the animals a slightly higher quality of life and more humane death, but come on. I have been to a slaughterhouse in Trenton, a "good" one. Those animals are not real happy. You either embrace that we are at the top of the food chain, and enjoy the benefits of commercial food preparation and the associated sterile and emotionally disconnected pre-butchered and packed meat, or become a vegetarian. Or maybe a farmer - you can raise and kill your own under conditions of your choosing. But don't attempt to take some artificial moral ground that just cutting out fois gras makes you a more humane meat eater. Viva la tasty morsels of fois gras!

Andrea Hoffman—Torrance, California

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Monday, July 31, 2006 5:24 PM
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Mayor Daley is right. What a waste of time. I am so opposed to banning foie gras everywhere. I'm in California where some crazy people think they have the right to tell me what I can eat. I don't know how this ever got through.

Dave Yewell—Napa Valley/St. Helena, California

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Sunday, July 23, 2006 10:36 AM
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For those who love life and animals there is NO excuse for animal cruelty!! A chief [sic] and restaurant owner show what kind of human beings they really are when foie gras is on the menu! KUDOS to those chefs that don't serve foie gras!!!

Les Lewis

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006 7:37 PM
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What concerns me most about foie gras—and, in a way, American culture in general—is the disconnect between what people are willing to consume and what they're willing to produce. If you think it's acceptable to personally bring a duck that is under your care to a nearly pathological state through the daily administration of force-fed dosages of corn through a stainless steel tube, then you're the kind of person who has the moral highground necessary to enjoy the stuff...but my guess is that you're not that kind of person.

Steven Rinella, author of The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, Miles City, Montana

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006 12:48 PM
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What a disappointment. If Chicago isn't safe from the politicization of food we're all doomed. The City Council has overreached its authority and become a self-appointed arbiter of gastronomy. Their next logical move should be to investigate all farming practices and determine which ones offend their sensibilities, followed by a ban on any foods stemming from their personal dislikes. Perhaps they might want to start with the cattle and poultry industries and shut down McDonald's. Lose the cheese on that great Chicago pizza too. We shouldn't enslave cows to produce milk.

Kevin Schoeler
Food Writer—Santa Monica, California

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Sunday, July 16, 2006 2:16 PM
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I read an article from Aux Champs d'Élisé, the premier duck producer in Canada that depicts ducks raised for not only their liver, but many parts that make up a piece of the world's culinary repertoire. These birds are cared for like children, fed corn by stewards to a craft dating back thousands of years. Do we put so much attention to the feeding and care of more mainstream proteins? Chickens dunked in boiling water to remove their feathers, lobsters steamed live to make a memorable meal? These politicians can only be seen as hypocrites when they dine at their favorite restaurant and condemn an innocent quail to be thrashed with herbs and seared or a fish ripped from its habitat to end up on a grill. Be serious, there are far more pressing matters that need center stage like global warming, declining fish stocks and Pandemic disease.

Chef Trevor SimmsNiagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

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Thursday, July 13, 2006 6:22 AM
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What's next for the food police? I also hear from many people who oppose veal, because the animals are "so cute" and how could anyone eat a baby anything? What's a farmers supposed to do with all those cute male calves? Raise them as pets? Is that going to be imposed next on already struggling farmers? Or will we next outlaw the home raising of rabbits for food, as is very traditional in the South, because who would want to eat a bunny? What also irks me is that nobody complains about how commercially raised chickens are kept in cramped quarters with beaks half cut off and fed dreadful diets for their few weeks of life. Next let's have a law requiring free-range raising of chickens. I'd be all for that one. But I'm not holding my breath.

If I lived in Chicago, I'd be raising a major ruckus about this one. All I can do from where I sit is make sure those food police nuts don't get their hands on Georgia. And believe me, I'll be watching out for them.

Jane F. GarveyDecatur, Georgia

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Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:56 PM
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Being a former Dean of student at a culinary school, and a food talk radio show host, I hear countless educated debates on the pros and cons of this subject and many other controversial food related topics.

In the late seventies, we had the same level of public stir over free range chicken. Now, it's sustainable living.

And the Edible school yard.

I personally think that guests will always ask for Foie gras. I also personally feel that a paid politician should be ban from using their status to gain leverage for personal opinion. Sort of like separating church and state..

Tax payers would be better suited if he would address things other than the cities diet! This subject should be left to animal right activists.

"Chicago...tell him to stop putting words in your mouth!"

Gayle Gaggero, Host of : "In the mix with Chef Gigi"
Food talk radio - come & get heated!
www.snippetradio.com, www.kidsculinaryadventures.com

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Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:15 PM
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SO SAD!!!!! Our thoughts and beliefs at restaurant Guy Savoy on subject are as follows: The preparation of foie gras runs deep in the roots of traditional French cooking as well as the cuisine of Guy Savoy. We believe everyone has the choice of consuming this most divine delicacy. Foie gras will always be sought after; therefore we must supply the demand.

Franck Savoy—Restaurant Guy Savoy, Las Vegas

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Thursday, July 13, 2006 11:21 AM
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How, can foie gras ring with such importance when there are crime running wild through the streets of the inner city? And if the City Council have forgotten why they were elected. Then it’s up to the people of Chicago to bring it back to their attention by having a recall.

Chef Nathan HallLos Angeles

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Thursday, July 13, 2006 10:19 AM
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It seems absurd that we can even be discussing whether or not we can obtain and sell Duck Liver in North America. Ducks have a natural tendency to gorge on food to fatten and only migratory birds of this sort have the genetic predisposition to store the fat in their liver. They have no gag reflex (unlike the goose) and happily eat as much as we give them. Is "assisting" the ducks to over eat inhumane??? How on earth can it be!? The Foie Gras farms I have visited around the world are ultra clean due to the need to keep the birds healthy, and utilize the entire animal. You take something like duck farming which isn’t very profitable and turn it in to a profitable business. The ducks' feathers, organs and meat are all consumed.

Have these guys ever been to a chicken or egg farm in the US, a shrimp farm in Thailand, how about a hog farm? Lets get real!!!! I don't think a pigs natural food choice is slop in a trough! Pigs should be happily running through the woods eating acorns. Will we ban bacon next?? Perhaps we should as we fill it with nitrates and sulfates!

We are humans, upper level of the food chain. We cultivate many things like fish, vegetables and animals for meats. If we treat the animals decently and do not have waste from them how could it be bad.

How can we even look at banning a food substance which gives the world so much pleasure but continue to sell tobacco??

I will always consume Foie gras and if the day comes when I am told I cannot buy it I will create a small farm and make my own.

Let's have our politicians focus on real issues not something that has been going on since 300 BC!!!!

Chef Stefan D. Czapalay—www.chefstefan.com, Canada

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 6:07 PM
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What they ought to ban in Chicago are the stockyards where they crowd steers together in unhealthy pens for a month fattening them with huge feedings of grain, before butchering thousands of steers each day. What a bunch of hypocrites.

John Blanchette—Travel, Food & Wine writer, Los Angeles

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 4:09 PM
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I heard lots of things about that matter. I personally think that guests will always ask for Foie gras. We should let the choice to consumers, they have the choice not to eat Foie Gras if they want but we should not ban it all together. [sic]


Chef Claude Le Tohic—Robuchon at The Mansion, Las Vegas

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 11:22 AM
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This is what I think about this ridiculus law. Politicians should be taking care of so many other things rather than stopping the chefs from doing their job. All over the world people love foie gras and it's part of having a great time when you go to the restaurant. The City Councilmen of Chicago has probably so much cholesterol that he can't eat foie gras anymore. So because he's jalous, he does not want others to enjoy the fact that foie gras is still for sure one of the greatest product in the world. [sic]

Gilles Epié—Citrus Etoile, Paris, France

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Friday, July 07, 2006 3:52 PM
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I couldn't agree with the mayor more whole-heartedly!

We have people being killed, people without enough food or a roof over their heads, an improving but still far from perfect school system, budget issues that need thoughtful care and our alderman are banning foie gras!!!! Do they really need to spend their time making these decisions for us? How many of them have explored the issue and ascertained whether it is really cruel? I believe that a combination of restaurant owners/chefs and the buying public can make their own decisions whether to serve or eat something. As long as it does not harm other human beings, such as smoking in public spaces, then I believe we should have the right to free choice!

My wife and I held a picnic recently and one of our guests, who had just returned from France, asked if she could bring some "illegal substances". Being a college student in the 70's I initially assumed she mean't something that could be smoked.....no.... it was a tin of foie gras, and not only was it delicious, but we couldn't keep one of our guests from gorging himself on it....are we going to be forced into a "Prohibition" environment with foie gras speakeasies? Or will I have to jet to Canada or Europe to enjoy this particular delicacy?

Chicago is a wonderful place, but sometimes our elected politicians cause me to wonder "what were they thinking?"

Michael F. Kaufman—Chicago

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Friday, July 07, 2006 2:58 PM
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It should be up to individual people to decide whether or not they want to eat foie gras - not legislators! I personally don't find it any more cruel than veal, lamb or any other kind of meat. I respect the right of vegetarians to choose to not eat meat, but I expect the same consideration in return if I choose to do so.

Melissa Isom—Québec, Canada

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Friday, July 07, 2006 2:42 PM
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Politicians really can't eliminate crime, educate everyone adequately or provide for all the poor so they focus on simpler controversies. They can look back on this and say "I did something." Perhaps they could have made a dent in one of the other issues with the energy they spent on foie gras but it wouldn't give them the same completed satisfaction. I love fois gras and enjoy it when I can. Right or wrong I personally accept the method it takes to produce it. Chicago will miss out. Fois gras lovers will find satisfaction in the suburbs or other cities.

Thank you,

Elaine Hodgson—California

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The great irony of the insane foie gras ban in Chicago is that it was sponsored by one of the three or four finest, most responsible members of the City Council--a man who is right-on almost all the time and much to be admired.
The second greatest irony is that the rest of the City Council--one of the worst group of thugs in government anywhere--all went along with Alderman Moore on this goofy issue. It is a pity they don't go along with him on the more socially significant issues of ethics in government, fiscal responsibility and equity for minority citizens.

Don Rose—Chicago

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I can’t agree more strongly with Mayor Daley. The Chicago city council has not only wasted their taxpayers’ money and resources by even discussing this issue, but they have made Chicago the laughing stock of the rest of the world. Let’s go get those big bad chefs since the city council has solved all the other real problems facing the Windy City.

Alex Motamedi—Los Angeles

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Wednesday, July 09, 2006 6:29 PM
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As far as I am concerned, foie gras sales like sales for everything else help us to contribute thousands of dollars to charities that chefs, hotels and restaurant owners are involved with every year. Millions of dollars are raised for homeless kids, to fight aids and cancer, and for families with no health insurance. When all these HUMANS in need are taken care of, then we can talk about animals .... But we’ll all be dead and many other generations too before this happens.

Chef Jean-François Meteigner
La Cachette, Los Angeles

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