Foie Gras is a pricey delicacy often featured at elegant high-end restaurants. This fatty goose or duck liver, savored for its buttery richness and often enjoyed as a starter with toasted bread and jelly will be banned in California starting July 1st, sending many foodies around L.A. into a frenzy. Not this foodie, but others…
As a self-described foodie and wine enthusiast myself, I am a regular at many fabulous restaurants around the city. I love any trendy spot with a scene and reputation for expensive extravagant food. Although I wish my could align my diet with my higher conscience, it is a constant struggle. I often joke I have the heart of a vegan with the palate of a carnivore. I find that if I really consider where my food comes from and how it is treated and handled before entering the giant farm heaven in the sky, well, it would ruin my dinner party. So I go on and order while ignoring my conscience on most days. I shamefully admit that ignorance is bliss where food is concerned and I choose to not seek too many details about what happened to my dinner prior to it being basted, roasted, fried, grilled or braised, then delivered to my table in perfect presentation.
foie gras rice pudding
Hence my reluctant but complete support for the ban on foie gras, originally signed into law by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004. Given a seven and a half year delay before enforcement this July 1, 2012, the law will fine a restaurant up to $1,000 for violation. I used to absolutely LOVE foie gras pâté and actually went to Animal just to order the foie gras loco moco.
Foie gras used to be my idea of the perfect pre-meal treat paired with a lovely crisp French wine (red or white), until I was having lunch with my friend James last year. We were at a business meeting at The Lobster in Santa Monica on a gorgeous April afternoon when he told me that this was the cruelest and most inhumane practice in factory animal farming. He explained in horrifying detail how a tube is crammed down the birds throat so that it can be force-fed via this funnel to speed up the process of fatty liver disease. The bird is force-fed until it is so sick from liver disease it dies or is killed. Sometimes their tiny little duck liver can weigh up to four pounds. Once dead, the liver is extracted to make the silky smooth foie gras pâté I used to crave.
See how that puts a damper on my enjoyment of said delicacy? I recall being equal parts annoyed with James and the food industry. Annoyed with James for sharing this information with me because now I could never eat it again, and annoyed with the food industry and chefs everywhere who insist on using foie gras and feeding it to ignorant consumers like me! Why isn’t everyone outraged by this practice? I was ashamed to be a part of the demand that has kept this torturous practice in place. There are many other delicious things to create and order that do not include torturing a duck or any animal for that matter…
Foie gras production is banned in such countries as Italy, Argentina, Germany and the United Kingdom. Germany is more humane on this issue than the U.S.?! Seriously America, we have to do better. Once again I am a proud Californian, happy to be in state where the collective conscience agrees that this practice is not ok. It’s cruel and masochistic and disgusting.