Six Weeks Left to Stuff Yourself Before Foie Gras Ban Takes Effect

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


There is a run on fancy duck liver at high-end restaurants in California—where prices are skyrocketing amid secretive gourmand gatherings—as the state’s July 1 ban on foie gras approaches.

Recently, at Melisse in Santa Monica, an eight-course meal of foie gras dishes cooked by well-known chefs drew a gaggle of protestors, and protestors protesting the protestors, outside the restaurant while inside pastry chef Lissa Douman and co-owner of the restaurant Terra, mused over the fuss being made about “feeding ducks. All of this is about feeding ducks.”

Well, perhaps not exactly about just feeding ducks. Critics of the highly-prized delicacy take issue with the force-feeding of ducks and geese that can begin at around 3-months-old. Corn meal is typically poured through an 8-inch to 12-inch tube for about 30 seconds during a 21-day regimen that swells their livers to three times normal before ending in slaughter.

Animal protection groups contend the process is cruel and inhumane; while producers and afficienados maintain it is a natural process that takes advantage of the birds’ natural ability to ingest large amounts of food quickly.

France is the world’s largest producer and consumer of foie gras but the U.S. market is hardy. Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Duck Products,  the country’s largest maker of foie gras, processes an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 ducks each week, according to Capitol Weekly.

California became the first state in the nation to ban foie gras in 2004, when Senate Bill 1520 spelled out in no uncertain terms that after a lengthy, 8-year phase out, “force feed[ing of] a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size” would be prohibited as well as selling the product. The state joins Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and other countries that have similar laws.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

 Nation's First Ban on Foie Gras Taking Effect – After Eight Years (by Greg Lucas, Capitol Weekly)

The Foie Gras Wars Get Meta at Melisse (by Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times)

California Foie Gras Ban: Frenzy Grows As New Law Nears (by Tracie Cone, LA Weekly)


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