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Civilized Disobedience
A handful of Chicago restaurants flout the local foie gras ban by putting it on their menus, writes Monica Davey in The New York Times:

“This ban is embarrassing Chicago,” said Grant DePorter of Harry Caray’s Restaurant, which dreamed up an appetizer of pan-seared foie gras and scallops ($14.95) and a Vesuvio-style entree pairing foie gras and tenderloin ($33.95) just to buck the new ordinance. “We really don’t think the City Council should decide what Chicagoans eat. What’s next? Some other city outlaws brussels sprouts? Another outlaws chicken? Another, green beans?”

While Illinois restaurant officials, who say 46,000 pounds of foie gras was sold here last year, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday over the city’s ban, those serving foie gras on Tuesday afternoon said they were unsure, and mostly indifferent, about how law enforcement might punish them for their one-day protest.

As it turned out, the city did nothing — even in one South Side restaurant where the owner reported seeing a table of Chicago police officers at lunch. Tim Hadac, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Public Health, which, unlike the Police Department, is responsible for enforcing the ban, said that although the ordinance went into effect on Tuesday, the city would begin enforcement on Wednesday.

“The city gave them a day of fun, but tomorrow we’ll see what happens,” said Joe Moore, the alderman who proposed the ban, adding that the method by which foie gras is produced — force feeding ducks and geese through a pipe inserted into their throats — is clearly animal cruelty.

Wrong, bunwad. Because you imagine it's cruel, based on some anthropomorphized vision of the birds, doesn't mean it's cruel.

I'll repost an earlier blog item:

If It's Good For The Goose...
Is the foie gras process bad for the ducks and geese? In Wednesday's LA Times Letters To The Editor section, Norm Drexel, in Christchurch, New Zealand, responded to a story about foie gras-inspired vandalism around San Francisco. Drexel doubts that Cem Akin, a PETA researcher mentioned in the story, has actually witnessed the gavage of geese (the feeding process by which foie gras is produced). Drexel explains:

I don't pretend to be able to read a duck's mind, but they show no obvious signs of fear before or distress after feeding. When brought into the pen, they push to be first in line.

Hmmm...kind of like the flabby crowd ill-advisedly shoving to "Supersize It" at 7-11 -- but with webbed feet. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like the LA Times reporter who wrote the story ever left her desk to -- forgive me -- take a gander at any ducks or geese...or (sigh) bothered to phone even one objective expert. (I call this "interactive newswriting" -- where the story isn't altogether told, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. What fun!)

In this case, it leaves the big question -- is gavage cruel or not? -- hanging over the story. I don't know the answer, but I did find a couple corroborations of what Drexel and here. So, should PETA change its name? PIPA?..."People For The Inaccurate Portrayal Of Animals?" It does have a cute sort of Mexical-Italian ring to it. But does it have the ring of truth? That is the question.

UPDATE: Look what happens when you put a little reporting into the mix! Here are a few words from Andrew Gumbel's story in the UK's Independent:

Mr. Jaubert said his adversaries were picking the wrong target. The Californian duck farm, operating under the name Sonoma Foie Gras, was free-range. Animals spent almost all their lives outside, he said, except for the final period of grain-feeding in air-conditioned buildings. "This is extremely good treatment, certainly compared to the way the big chicken producers behave with their animals," he said.

Mr. Manrique, who comes from Gascony, the heart of duck country in south-west France, has been an ambassador for foie gras for years. "Force-feeding is really the wrong word," he told a group of cooking students in San Francisco a couple of years ago. "The geese see the food we offer them and run after us. They say, 'Give me more'."

Such remarks may not sit well with the "meat is murder" crowd, but science is beginning to show that he may not be entirely wrong. An article in the journal British Poultry Science in 2001 found "no significant indication that force-feeding is perceived as an acute or chronic stress by male mule ducks".

Posted by aalkon at August 24, 2006 10:02 AM

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