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Foie gras is (rightly) banned, so let's move on

September 20, 2012|By Carla Hall
  • California's ban on foie gras, which is made from the fattened livers of geese or ducks, went into effect in July.
California's ban on foie gras, which is made from the fattened livers… (Dietrich Weissbach / AFP/Getty…)

Once again, a federal judge in Los Angeles has refused a request to halt the new ban on the force-feeding of ducks and geese and the sale of foie gras, the delicacy made from the animals’ fattened livers. The request came from a coalition of plaintiffs -- a group of restaurants, foie gras producers and a Canadian association representing duck and geese farmers of Quebec -- that is suing the state of California, contending the law is unconstitutional. 

The judge made the right decision. California passed a law prohibiting this cruel and inhumane feeding practice in 2004, but it didn't go into effect until July.  Foie gras producers and the chefs who love them have had nearly eight years to prepare for this.  Alas, it is true that with the exception of a brilliant European farmer or two, no one has been able to figure out how to fatten up ducks and geese enough for foie gras without force-feeding them. 

So get over it.

Most restaurants have.  Only a few of the several hundred in California that served foie gras before the ban have tried to sneak around it by offering “complimentary” foie gras with an overpriced brioche or some-such food.

California may be the only state with this kind of ban, but it joins more than a dozen countries that have either outlawed force-feeding or deemed it illegal under existing animal welfare statutes. And the ban is part of a growing number of laws in the U.S. that reflect Americans’ increasing consciousness about the cruelty that animals bred for food endure.  Four years ago, Californians overwhelmingly passed Proposition 2 outlawing cramped cages for egg-laying hens.

Just because an animal ends up dead on a dinner plate doesn’t mean it should be allowed to suffer in its lifetime.

Hopefully, the force-feeding ban will stand up in court, and then perhaps chefs will stop obsessing over foie gras and turn their inventive minds toward less cruel yet yummy creations.

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