Hog Butcher to the World—and Protector of Ducks' Sensitive Gullets and Oh-So-Tasty Livers

Reader Russ A. Dewey points to this discussion of Chicago's recent and pathbreaking ban on foie gras produced by force feeding ducks (and the occasional goose). Writes the Trib's Mark Caro:

I'm not defending the practice of force-feeding, but I did travel to Sonoma Foie Gras for an extensive tour last spring, and I couldn't say definitively that the ducks there were treated worse than your average supermarket chicken (which I've never observed at an industrial farm). The Sonona Foie Gras ducks live their first 12 weeks in spacious barns and outdoors before the [2.5]-week period known as gavage, during which they are fed corn formulas via copper tubes dropped all the way down their throats.

More here.

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  • ||

    It seems to me, being in the middle class, that people in both the lower and upper class eat some really disgusting shit.

    Wolf nipple chips! Get them while they're hot! They're lovely!

  • Mike||

    The entire state of CA banned foie gras. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years they tried to ban all meat!

    Seriously though, the right wingers could use this to their advantage: "Liberals value ducks more than babies."

  • Nick Gillespie||

    California's ban goes into effect in 2012.

  • Jeff P||

    I've often heard that liver is good for you.

    It makes bile, people.

  • ||

    America needs more bile.

  • ||

    I found Mark Caro's commentary less than crushing. If he hasn't seen an industrial chicken farm he can't make any comparison at all, can he? Maybe 2.5 weeks with a copper tube stuck all the way down his throat would broaden his horizon, eh?

  • ||

    They have been trying to pass this ban for some time here in Chicago. It's really a non-issue as only about 10-12 restaurants (all very upscale) offer foie grass. It sounds like stupid posteuring to me.

    I don't believe that these ducks are treated any worse than baby calves raised for veal are, yet somehow I doubt that our city council would even think about trying to ban that (not that they should) -- but if they were serious about animal cruelty issues, they wouldn't merely pick the easy targets.

    In fact, I would love to see them try and ban veal and then faces the consequences of the outrage it would cause.

    At least it was just a city ban, and you can still get it in the burbs. Chicago just keeps giving patrons reasons to stay out of the city.

  • gaius marius||

    the vulgarization of society continues.

    only snobs eat it? great political issue! let's ban it!

    the mass manufacture of foie gras may not be fuzzy bunnies on sunday morning, but it's hardly upton sinclair. spend some time on a farm, alderman moore. perhaps you'll come back wanting to ban non-synthetic foods of every stripe, but perhaps you'll come back with a greater appreciation for the grim realities of feeding billions on the efforts of thousands -- and just how normal foie gras is.

  • ||

    I love meat, and I'll be a meat eater till the day I die, but this is ridiculous. Force-feeding ducks? I have no problem with using animals for food or clothing, so long as it isn't gratuitous or cruel. Force feeding animals is cruel. You know how it is when you eat too much and you feel really uncomfortable or even ill as a result? How would you like to spend a great deal of your life like that? In a lot of cases I would support deregulation, but animal cruelty needs legislation as a preventative measure.

  • ||

    I recall Mayor Daley himself (he thinks the ban is ridiculous) saying a few months ago that restaurants will find a way around the ban by calling foie gras something else. I don't know how the law defines it. Could Tru serve its Hudson Valley foie gras as "duck liver" rather than "foie gras"?
    (Full disclosure: I once had foie gras served with french toast in a chocolate sauce at Tru that was one of the greatest culinary experiences of my life.)

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,
    I think more than 10-12 restaurants serve the stuff. Every French bistro and restaurant serves it, and a lot of other places serve French influenced cuisine. The ban will drive me out of the city for French food. Oh well. Hemmingway's Bistro in Oak Park is fantastic anyway, and it's only 5 minutes away.

  • Jeff P||

    I only eat meat that I have personally taunted and emotionally traumatized.
    I don't kill it, though. I leave that to trained professionals.

  • Viking Moose||

    "At least it was just a city ban, and you can still get it in the burbs. Chicago just keeps giving patrons reasons to stay out of the city.

    Comment by: ChicagoTom at April 28, 2006 11:29 AM"

    yup. grrrrr. it's like all the companies who have HQ in the western burbs. considering the "left lane fever" (i.e., driving slower than normal in the left lane, the compulsion to be in the left lane, and being "insulted" when someone passes), driving out there would really suck!

    good call!

    (pate is served all over the place, but the fois grais is more limited in scope, due to cost, IIRC)

    are you in the burbs? greetings from the north side :)

    Gaius: will we see you and Minimus at the game tomorrow?

    cheers,

  • Thomas Paine's Goiter||

    It seems to me, being in the middle class, that people in both the lower and upper class eat some really disgusting shit.

    Actually, the lower class only eats shit if it's fried. The upper class will eat shit on a puff pastry garnished with wasabi asparagus.

  • ||

    Mr Moose,
    Foie gras (not pate) is $10-15 at a bistro. That's not really prohibitive. It may be more than jalapeno poppers at Friday's, but as part of a $100 dinner for two - meh! not that much.
    By the way, does the ban include pate made from foie gras? I can't find any details on the law.

  • ||

    Chicago just keeps giving patrons reasons to stay out of the city.

    Which is why I commented on the Tribune blog that every stupid little ban like this adds another reason to take convention business elsewhere; the drop in convention business was a big story in the Trib yesterday.

    Force feeding animals is cruel. You know how it is when you eat too much and you feel really uncomfortable or even ill as a result? How would you like to spend a great deal of your life like that?

    Please don't make Tim Cavanaugh link to Dimensions Magazine again!

  • ||

    Ahh, the foie gras faux pas.

    Well, since the PETA and Animal Lover types know that they can't convince enough people through voluntary action (change of diet or boycotting)to adopt economic behavior that would accomplish their goal (no one wanting to eat it equals no one wanting to sell it), then like everyone else with an upopular or stupid agenda they just found a city still steeped in Union and DNC Big Government (as opposed to GOP Big Government, I suppose) to pass the law.

    I love the hypocrisy of the politicos from a city known for deep-dish pizza (that meat topping and double-dose cheese doesn't come from fairies and pixies)and Vienna hot dogs find foie gras so evil, but slaughtering pigs and cows is okay, since after all, it's the Salt of The Earth from Rogers Park that eat Vienna Hot Dogs and those Evil Rich Stock Brokers and Oil Barons on LaSalle eat foie gras.

    As a former Chicagoan (who will be eventually moving back for Grad School), I can only hope that Rahm Emmanuel or some other "New Democratic" type becomes the mayor. There seems to be very little chance of even a Guiliani-liberal type Republican taking over Chicago, but there has to be SOME Democrat SOMEWHERE in Chicagoland that has a few market economic brain cells in their thick skull.

    Damn, do ANY of the Aldermen even know about the University of Chicago??!?!

  • ||

    Iconoclast,
    Daley is against the ban:
    "We have children getting killed by gang leaders and dope dealers. We have real issues here in this city. And we're dealing with foie gras? Let's get some priorities."
    Leaving aside any questions of corruption (we are talking Chicago politics - corruption is a given. As my boss once said, "whatever happened to honest graft?"), Daley has been good for Chicago's economy. See the Economist's profile of the city.

  • Steven Andrew Miller||

    the mass manufacture of foie gras may not be fuzzy bunnies on sunday morning, but it's hardly upton sinclair

    Upton Sinclair was hardly Upton Sinclair.

    http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=4084

  • ||

    What else do you expect from the city that bans private ownership of pistols?


    /I have officially fallen into self-parody.

  • ||

    Highnumber,
    I haven't been in Chicago for seven years, but I actually thought Mayor Daley was halfway tolerable for a Democratic Big City mayor when I lived in Chicago. He seems to me to be more like Michael Corleone before the Sicilian restaurant whacking in Godfather I. A reasonably innocent doofus who tries to be decent, but gets tainted by the stench of association with his father's legacy and the Machine.

    Of course, with the Fitzegerald investigation and ethnic identity welfare state politics due to immigration (i.e. Blacks Vs. Latinos), I'm sure your next mayoral election will be more fun than usual.

    Hopefully, I'll enjoy the mess from the vantage point of Oak Park when Grad School rolls around ...

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