Animal Rights

New York's Place as America's Fine-Dining Mecca in Jeopardy As City Bans Foie Gras

The ban targets upstate and international farmers and city restaurants alike.


Earlier this week, to the great disappointment of me and many others, the New York City Council voted 42-6 to ban foie gras. The foolhardy ban is set to take effect in 2022.

Foie gras, a delicacy, is a French term for fatty duck or goose liver. Farmers fatten the birds' livers through a feeding process known as gavage, which capitalizes on the birds' natural instinct to gorge themselves before migrating.

City Council member Carlina Rivera, who represents parts of Manhattan, sponsored the ban. Her bill, Intro 1378, "prohibit[s] retail food establishments or food service establishments from storing, maintaining, selling, or offering to sell force-fed products or food containing a force-fed product."

"This is one of the most violent practices and it's done for a purely luxury product," Rivera told The New York Times this week, presumably intending to refer to foie gras production but instead doing a fine job of describing the city council's shameful efforts to ban a food.

The foie gras ban, while thoroughly disappointing, didn't come as a surprise. In August, I warned (as the headline of this very column suggests) that New York City's status as a global culinary capital would be at risk if the city followed through with plans to ban foie gras.

Neither is New York City's ban the nation's first. That dishonor goes to Chicago, where a moronic, short-lived foie gras ban was passed and repealed during the aughts by city lawmakers who ultimately recognized their mistake.

California is the first-and-only state to implement a ban. That prohibition continues, though I both hope and expect a federal court will kill it eventually. (Last year, I wrote and submitted a joint amicus brief on behalf of the Cato Institute and Reason Foundation—which publishes Reason—asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California's ban. The Court failed to take up the case, which sent the matter back to a federal court in California.)

Notably, Intro 1378 also "creates a rebuttable presumption that any item with a label or listed on the menu as 'foie gras' is the product of force-feeding." That requirement suggests the city council expects a restaurant or grocer in the city to know every detail about how animals are raised and slaughtered outside the city—whether in Upstate New York, Canada, France, or elsewhere.

Acquiring such knowledge would require chefs or grocers to visit their foie gras producer. And that's exactly the sort of trip many New York City chefs have completed time and again.

"I have been to their farms and they operate with the utmost integrity to their farm animals," award-winning New York City chef Ken Oringer told Time this week.

Ironically, though, it's a trip New York City lawmakers like Rivera were too lazy or disinterested to make.

"How can the New York City Council pass legislation potentially destroying hundreds of jobs without due process?" wonders Marcus Henley, manager of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the state's primary foie gras producer, in an email to me this week.

Indeed, Henley invited Rivera and other city council members to tour the HVFG facility at any time.

"The farms are two hours outside New York City and not a single member of the Council or their staffs came to the farm to see the farming practice," Henley says. "They accepted the word of the animal activists. That works if you don't want the truth to get in the way of your politics."

"Not one came or sent veterinarians to the farms to check the animal husbandry," Ariane Daugin, owner of D'Artagnan, which sells foie gras and other food products in New York City and around the country, also told me this week. "They relied solely on YouTube videos from factory farms in Eastern Europe, and on the lies of animal activists who fraudulently financed their political campaigns."

(An animal-rights group that pushed for the New York City ban also sued D'Artagnan this week, alleging the company's portrayal "of foie gras products as humane" is deceptive. That's hogwash, says Daugin. "For these activists, killing animals for meat consumption is inhumane," she tells me. "For us omnivores, 95% of the American population, it's lunch time. The key is to respect the animals, raise them ethically without stress nor pain, for maximum flavor. That's what D'Artagnan has been promoting for the last 35 years.")

Why would city council members make up their own minds, I guess, when animal-rights groups can do it for them?

Despite their righteous outrage and disappointment, HVFG and other foie gras producers and sellers aren't taking the ban lying down. They've already banded together to oppose it. And with three years' time before the ban is set to take effect, they have both their work cut out for them and time to complete it.

"We will fight," Daugin told me this week. "This law is anti-constitutional, and voted by an incompetent and corrupted NY Council."

Henley also tells me he's confident the law won't survive. "The foie gras farmers of New York and Quebec will file suit as soon as possible," he says. It's expected they'll argue that New York City's ban violates both New York State law and federal law.

Apart from litigation, New York City's top chefs will also play a key role in the fight to overturn the ban. They'll have to fight for their rights (and those of their customers) if they want to keep serving foie gras past 2022. Thankfully, a chef-led backlash against the ban is already resonating.

"This is Idiocracy…fucking fuck," tweeted renowned Momofuku founder David Chang.

"Food choice is everything and the beauty of our country is that we can make the choice to eat what we want to eat," Chef Oringer told Time.

That freedom to choose what to eat is now under direct assault from New York City lawmakers.

NEXT: Impeachment Is Both the Cause and the Effect of a Too-Powerful Presidency

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  1. You won't have a place with fine dining if the lunatics run the place.

    NYC, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles....

    Not mention Socialists don't have any money, so does one expect to successfully run a fine dining establishment.

    1. Looks like someone’s brain stem woke up before the cortex. Good post tho. Really.

      1. Yes the minor typographical error renders the post completely unreadable and undermines the point being made. Thank you for presenting this expert rebuttal. Can I get an invite to your next Ted Talk?

      2. Hey look what Screech stupidly forgot to protect when he was socking as Eric.

        1. Not who you think I am dumbass. Not that I care. I live a life outside of this chat room, unlike your sad ass.

          1. Sure screech.

        2. What's this? Commenters here can just steal other people's screen names? You'd think the Internet's leading destination for billionaire-funded open borders advocacy could afford better web design. Apparently the #DrumpfRecession has devastated Charles Koch's finances even more severely than I've been saying.


    2. Socialists don't have any food.

    3. As Reason so intelligently points out, the birds force feed THEMSELVES, so how are humans indicted in this issue? New York is slowly turning into the least important city in the U.S. with this kind of horse manure legislation.

  2. First they came for the foie gras but I didn't like it anyway. Then they came for the ham, but I was Jewish. Then they came for the lobster, ditto. Then they came for corned beef, and there was no one left to protest.

    1. See yesterday's post about California and in n out. They deserve the government they voted for. Although, looking at my own city council candidates this year, they're just short of being an even dozen socialists with little between them (pick the least worst 4).

    2. Good comment Creech! There is a REASON (no pun intended) that non-human animals are our food, though that reason seems to be too tough for NY pols to understand. It seems all U.S. big cities are trying their best to make themselves worthless (I grew up in Chicago, and it isn't a place to visit any longer). Good luck New York with becoming the next Detroit.

  3. Is anyone else getting irritated with the highly-choreographed, obviously well-planned left-wing protest movements that we are supposed to believe are "grassroots?"

    1. Yes. As annoyed as I was a decade ago with the highly choreographed, obviously well-planned (and well-funded) right-wing “grass roots” initiatives to replace local school boards and elected officials.

      1. While there are some "top down" right wing efforts, a lot of it really is grassroots and local. We don't have most of the massive NGOs, the entire university system, and the media feeding us lines and slogans designed to whip people into a frenzy.

        1. While I agree to a point about the breadth , size and scope of the major institutions....You say “media” as if it doesn't include the most popular news network In the country. And I regularly hear the President (and others) parroting talking points he gets from that network.

          1. Yes, there are scripted protests and the like on the right. I never denied that. But they are nowhere near the magnitude of the rent-a-crowd choreographed protests of the left.

            1. What is the basis for this claim?

      2. The U.S. has gone through this shit before, ala FDR, and we turned away from it (thank God). It is time to tell our SERVANTS in government that we don't want them doing what they are doing, and voting them out of office if they don't pay attention to us.

  4. I don't eat many organ meats but I love foie gras. Even made it a few times. I've mad a faux one a few times out of chicken livers too that's not bad.

    1. How do you make faux foie gras?

      I put a lot of duck fat into my duck liver pate, but it still does not remotely resemble duck foie gras.

      1. First, you throttle one of the damned Canadian geese that are on every street corner in middle America...

        1. They'd do the same to you.

        2. If you stopped force-feeding them Canadian tourists , they'd be able to fly home.

          1. But then what would we do with the Canadian tourists?

            1. Ship them to Arizona and watch them melt.

  5. Oh no a bunch of pretentious rich pricks who choose to live in a communist dystopian municipality can't get their overprivileged gullets stuffed with the fine foods of their choosing. Let me play you the world's saddest song on subatomic violin.

    1. Viola is currently in a home for the stupid, so just ignore her (him?).

  6. "New York's place as America's fine dining Mecca". See, this is why the rest of the country hates the arrogance and condescension and the parochialism of you people. I'm pretty sure there are people in El Paso and New Orleans and Kansas City and Savannah and Chicago who think New Yorkers wouldn't know good eating if it bit them in the ass. You know foie gras is the kind of shit French poofs oo-la-la over, right? You want real American food like steaks and BBQ and tacos and crawfish etouffe and fried chicken and you want to eat in a warm, comfortable, inviting, homey atmosphere, you're not looking for a place where you're going to drop a thousand bucks and have to dress up in silk underwear just to eat frou-frou designer food and some snotty French waiter wants to tell you 8 bourbons is enough and you gotta stop pinching his titties every time he stops by the table. And then after they threw me out, the bastards wouldn't even call me a cab and I was too drunk to dial my phone and I couldn't remember the name of the hotel we were staying at so it just ruined the whole evening. Fucking New Yorkers, I hate them so much.

    1. Agreed, it's pretty arrogant. I actually think the gigantic number of ethnic restaurants here is what makes it a great place for dining, rather than snotty super-upscale restaurants.

      As an aside, Nassim Taleb has a nice piece about these types of restaurants and the phenomena associated with them:

      1. Thanks for the link! It didn't work but it was easy enough to do an author search at Medium and find the whole "Skin In The Game" series of articles and now I have my weekend reading. I've heard of Taleb but not familiar with his writing, looking forward to it.

        BTW - totally agree about the diversity of ethnic food thing. When my brother lived in Atlanta, he'd take us around to some of the better restaurants when we'd visit. Not better as in nicer, but better as in the little Mom+Pop places where the owners just moved here a few years ago from whatever country they came from and you'd get a taste of some good home cooking from people who are ten thousand miles from home. I imagine if I moved to Cambodia and got a hankering for some good home cooking, it's not going to be foie gras, it's going to be meatloaf and mashed potatoes and banana pudding and that's what these restaurants serve the equivalent of. You know it's good cooking when you go in there and you're about the only white people in the place and you gotta point to the stuff you see on somebody else's plate to let them know what you want because nobody speaks English.

        1. Ah, not sure why the link didn't work, sorry about that. I find Taleb to be pretty entertaining. I don't always agree with what he says, but there's usually at least something to think about.

      2. The highest rated French restaurant (5 Michelin stars for 41 years) ,Maisonette, in deplorable Cincinnati. It closed in 2005. However New York boasts the most Original Rays on the planet.

        1. Skyline chili on Ludlow right down the street from the university.

          Better than Maisonette and eaten at both.

          Fuck New York been there too. Deplorable rat infested overpriced shit hole. Keep it.

        2. Maximum number of Michelin stars a restaurant can get is 3. Are you sure wasn't something like "Mitch Ellen stars" from some Cincinnati based food blog food critic who had two kids named Mitch and Ellen?

      3. MetaMoron doesn't know how to think. If one lets pols get away with little crimes, it will move on to bigger and bigger crimes until it becomes a place no one wants to live. Chicago has done this under its idiot of a mayor Lori Lightfoot, and previous mayor Rahm it up citizens ass Emmanuel.

    2. True, I have been to some vey fine places in Pittsburg to of all places. And sea food in the Outer Banks and the Florida Gulf Coast is wonderful.

      1. We did a rental one year in Hilton Head. Found out where the locals go to buy seafood. Fresh out of the water everything and cooked it up ourselves. That was the best Stuff I ever had.

        I have done some fishing. Once you have eaten fresh catch you realize how inferior what you get at the grocery or restaurant is.

    3. One of the finest meals I ever had was at the Trempealeau Hotel in rural Wisconsin.

      1. There’s a hotel for Trumpaloes?

      2. by midwest standards that isn't rural, but I think I see your point

    4. Easy, Jerry. Ultimately, arrogance is all NYC has to offer.

      1. "Hey, I'm condescending here!"

    5. You had a great rant going there, Jerryskids, but you kinda veered off the rails at the end

  7. I've never had foie gras. I like fat as much as the next person, but fatty bird livers doesn't really sound all that great.

    1. I do suggest you try it, you might be surprised how delicate it is for being so rich. But make sure you are getting actual grade A. IMO the lesser grades (much like caviar) are a waste of your money.

      1. I'll keep an open mind.

  8. "How can the New York City Council pass legislation potentially destroying hundreds of jobs without due process?"

    What is this "due process" of which you speak?

    1. You know who else destroyed jobs in New York?

  9. ...passed and repealed during the aughts by city lawmakers who ultimately recognized their mistake.

    That actually happens?

    1. Certainly not recognition of mistakes...

  10. "Food choice is everything and the beauty of our country is that we can make the choice to eat what we want to eat," Chef Oringer told Time.

    You have to be totally ignorant of the current state of food regulations to say such a thing.

    1. Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  11. So why not just create some new fancy dish and overcharge for it?
    Hammered guinea pig with a side of fingered spider monkey reproductive organs goes well with a white wine.

    1. Eating monkey meat is what caused AIDS and Ebola.

      1. It's boiled and throughout the fingering process they're pumped full of Truvada and anti-virals.

        1. Served with cake from a certified non-gay bakery?

      2. Technically it was the sloppy butchering that caused allowed HIV to jump species, not the eating. Ebola probably came from a similar process, but with fruit bats, not monkeys

  12. Every restaurant in NY should hang a not wanted poster of each commissioner and refuse them service.
    Chicago tried this stunt even though a majority of the City council probably didn't know how to spell or pronounce it or even what it was. Stupid as they are even they realized what laughing stocks they were and quietly rescinded it.

  13. If the various efforts at prohibition have taught us anything, it's that foi gras isn't going to magically disappear from NYC. It will still be available. Just to the right kind of people who will be able to pay the new exorbitant price.

    1. I mean, anyone could take a 10 minute ride on the path train to Jersey City or Hoboken, where I'm sure there are a couple restaurants serving foie gras, so yeah. Pointless virtue signaling.

      1. Normal people drive their trucks. A ride on any path train is the apotheosis of pointless virtue signalling.

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  15. It’s a liver product.

    Ban cruelty ok. But ducks taste good. Just harvest normal livers.

    People who want Foie Gras can pay more for an ethical product if necessary.

    1. There isn't anything normal about the livers they use to make foie gras. I did read once about a goose whisperer who enticed wild ducks to land on his farm on their way south, and when they did, he'd start overfeeding them with the same kind of feed they shove down the throats of geese to make foie gras. When he harvested them, their livers achieved the sort of level that would make decent foie gras, but you can't do that in quantity.

      That's a guy who was spending all day doing practically nothing but taking care of geese and not getting much for the effort. To make it work, it requires force feeding--and there's no nice way to force feed. I think the the way to get people to stop consuming the stuff is just persuasion. Veal went that way. It became socially unacceptable to the point that you hardly see it on menus anymore--or if you see it, it's osso buco, which means most people probably don't know what it is.

      When you try to force people to stop doing something, it makes them realize they never wanted to order it before. I knew a Muslim woman who never realized she wanted to cover until the French government told her she couldn't. Such things give me hope for libertarianism.

      1. I think the the way to get people to stop consuming the stuff is just persuasion. Veal went that way. It became socially unacceptable to the point that you hardly see it on menus anymore.

        ^ This. Such cruelty for a flavor strikes me as just nasty, but as others have pointed out, banning just means only certain people have it, and the practice almost certainly gets way worse. Persuasion, as you say, is the essence of libertarianism.

        1. At the grocery store today I didn’t see a single person voluntarily using paper bags. That tells me that bans on plastic bags aren’t what people want.
          When I was a kid they switched from paper to plastic to save the trees, but it wasn’t by force. It was by persuasion. But people don’t bother with persuasion anymore. It’s all about coercion backed up with real threats of violence.

        2. Veal was good though.
          I wanted to make a restaurant where you got to pick your own cow and use the sledgehammer yourself.
          Then I would have secretly made a gofundme for a legal battle to shut me down. I was going to get rich either way, but I got bored with that idea.

          1. Arthur Dent: I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to. It's heartless. Zaphod Beeblebrox: Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten.

            Douglas Adams

      2. “ and there’s no nice way to force feed.”

        From what I’ve seen they do feed with a funnel. But it’s not like the videos where they literally ram it down. They pour it down and the bird isn’t trying to get away or otherwise showing signs of being forced. That’s what the farmer in the article is talking about. Activists find the absolute worst cases and portray them as if they were the norm. And they know it isn’t the norm. Their end goal is to force everyone to be vegetarian with force of government. Just like the gay rights people swore up and down that using force of government to redefine marriage wasn’t their goal, when as predicted it indeed was. If it’s remotely leftist and activist, it is lying about its intentions. Guaran-fucking-teed.

        1. "Activists find the absolute worst cases and portray them as if they were the norm. And they know it isn’t the norm. Their end goal is to force everyone to be vegetarian with force of government."

          Our job is to draw a bold red line between those two things.

          There's nothing wrong with animal rights people making their case.

          Forced vegetarianism by way of government coercion is on the other side of that bold red line.

          And, yeah, it's enough to make people want to avoid trying the Impossible Whopper at Burger King.

          1. Their case is all emotion. No amount of facts or logic can penetrate it.

          2. BTW we did a blind taste test between impossible patty and a real hamburger party (no seasoning, no cheese, no condiments) and the impossible burger in no way is indistinguishable from a real meat patty. The mouth feel is wrong. The smell is wrong and the taste (or lack thereof) is wrong. One of the things that was brought up is that they soak the patties in au jus and cook on the same grill as other hamburgers. If you remove the buns (where the grease soaked into the bread) the impossible burger was virtually tasteless. It is only hard to differentiate if you don't do a direct comparison or you hide it behind seasoning and condiments.

  16. Leftist activists using irrational and dishonest arguments to sell their policies?

    No fucking way!

  17. I'm against this ban, but I have to imagine NY has way bigger problems.

    I honestly don't understand why most of Wall Street wont just pack up and move to a state with little or no income tax. Is the food and night life there that good?

  18. I respect people who object to foie gras bans so long as they also support marketing and consumption of dog meat, cat meat, and horse meat.

    1. That’s a pretty disingenuous statement. People don’t form emotional attachments to ducks and geese. Well most people don’t. The animals you listed are pets. These birds are not. The comparison is apples to oranges.

      And I don’t oppose repealing legislation that bans the marketing and consumption of those animals. It isn’t necessary. That’s something that is true law, that is part of American culture, and requires no legislation to be considered unacceptable.

      1. It all depends how the animal is raised. Some people have ducks and geese as pets, some people have pigs and lambs as pets. Others raise those same animals for food.

        But yes you are correct, the law is unnecessary, as most people in the west would not want to eat dog, cat, or horse as a matter of culture

    2. As far as horses go, an argument can be made in favor of allowing their meat to be eaten in this country with risk of government violence. Wild horses have a population problem, and harvesting would eliminate much suffering. Talk about irony.

      1. without risk

    3. There is no rational argument to not allowing the sale of horse meat in the US. It is all emotional. The same can be said of dog and cat. Read the Lewis and Clark travel log, they ate dog all the time. Many Native American tribes valued dog meat.

      1. I have read that Mongol warriors on the move would take a sack with raw meat of some kind mixed with a few things and put it under the saddle. The sweat and heat from the horse was the “cooking” process.

        They would also nick a vein in the horses neck and drink some of the blood or drink milk directly from a mare.

        1. Even though it is against the law, some of the plains tribes still eat dog when celebrating.

  19. OT - guess which city the person who gave this quote lives in:

    “The pulse of the neighborhood, to me, is more important than petty crime”

  20. A requiem for Bozo O’Dork;

    There was a period of about five or ten minutes when Welchie Boy and the rest of Reason’s Professional Fake Libertarians was in love with this horse’s ass.

    1. Beto has some great ideas — confiscating deadly military style assault weapons, denying tax exempt status to religious groups that oppose marriage equality, abolishing the 4th of July because it downplays the central role of slavery in this country's creation. He might have been in my top tier of candidates, except his status as a privileged straight white cis-male kind of bores me.


      1. Beto's ideas never caught the imagination of the public. So I think it is safe to say his ideas were not great. In fact, his ideas were never that great... 🙂

        1. He's just a little ahead of his time. I'd wager within 5 years, all elected Democrats will have to pass a litmus test in which they promise to confiscate weapons of war.


  21. The restaurants should all get together and ban members of the Ciry Councik from all fine dining establishments until the ban is lifted.

  22. Yeah, just a stupid ban.
    A while ago I watched a documentary on the making of foie gras. The geese were NOT treated cruelly or had funnels shoved down their throats. I think this is it:

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  24. Another example of why you should pay attention and hold your elected officials accountable when elections roll around. Back in March I was in NYC and walking near City Hall. I saw an organized climate change protest. Teachers wearing Green Party t-shirts were parading kids around with their protest signs. Even my liberal friend was appalled that the teachers and GP were using the children as their political pawns.

    Wouldn't be shocked if they did something similar here. A few fringe wackos hold sway in a place like NYC.

  25. So out of the thousands of things that can be had in NYC for food fare, banning one that requires torturing animals even more than we regularly do will be end to it's food scene. Hyperbolic much?

    1. I get a kick out of the "banning one" thought.... What's the big deal; just "banning one"... "banning one" .... "banning one" ... "banning one" .... "banning one"..."banning one"..."banning one"..."banning one"...."banning one"

      Sell your soul to the [WE] foundation -- after all, "You don't own you -- [WE] own you. And [WE] know whats best for you."

  26. Seems to me the way to fight the ban is to comply with it, by establishing on record that your foie gras is not produced by force feeding. How is this any different from, for instance, establishing one's meat at kosher, or getting inspected and showing compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice for drugs? Manufacturers can and do get products thru systems where the presumptions are always against them.

    1. Establishing internal industry standards always works best and keeps government from interfering too much. Had the commercial vaping industry worked together to establish a certification process they might not have the trouble they are seeing now.

      Lots of things are self regulated this way and the government just checks off the boxes.

    2. RTFA

      The local and state governments don't care to know how the goose liver is produced. The animal rights org even sued for the claim some fois gras is "humane".

      Bans on foies gras, crate-raised veal, battery cage eggs are part of the "animal rights" agenda to ban all traditional human use of animals

      1. The new ordinance creates a rebuttable presumption. Meaning, unless you submit evidence to the contrary, your pate will be presumed to have resulted from force feeding. So you submit your data the same way all sorts of other data to license products is submitted, and the presumption is rebutted, and your foie gras is legal.

        So animal rightsers want to ban all traditional uses of animals. They'll succeed only with those uses that aren't popular anyway.

  27. If the presumption that foie gras is the product of force-feeding is rebuttable, can HVFG rebut it?

  28. I've got a new born calf outside... Hasn't eaten for about a day. I don't think it knows how to eat just yet...

    Oh freak-en well - cannot force feed it so I'll just let it starve to death. I swear the "animal rights" mob must be cruelest one of all.

    1. Oh... And my Cat just caught a mouse.. Tore off it's tail, stabbed its claws into its sides while it was screaming and trying to get away, and is nibbling on it's arms and legs... Oh my gosh the horror!!!

      I being a self-conscience leftist justice warrior and puritan - indicted the cat for being a serial mouse murderer and charged him with the highest level of mutilation and abuse. That cat is the workings of the devil ya know.... I'm pushing for life in prison and a grass only diet but the super justice warriors are demanding the cats head.

  29. Just put a pile of food on the ground and let the libertarian ducks eat as much as they want.

    No cruelty.

  30. I wonder how they get caviar. Probably not pleasant for the fish.

  31. Gavage is force-feeding ducks and geese with feeding tubes for the purpose of causing the animals to suffer liver disease. That's right. Those fatty livers you find such a delicacy are diseased.

    I agree that foie gras should be banned by law.

    I have libertarian leanings but not so far as to countenance cruelty to animals just to please the palates of unconscionable gourmets and epicures.

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