WEDNESDAY'S HUM ( 10-25-06 )
FOIE GRAS IS NOT A CHEAP PERFUME SOLD AT BIG LOTS
Letter of the week goes to Bobby and Aly Riley for their educational offering in the October 18 issue of Seven Days. Thanks, guys. We were unaware of a Blue Star Cafe in Winooski, and also ignorant of a culinary treat (for some) called Foie Gras, which is what you get when you force-feed a duck until its liver looks like a rugby ball.
Here's the letter, along with some Wikipedia facts on the subject. Wiki, you rock!
We were appalled to read that the Blue Star Café in Winooski offers foie gras, and equally disappointed that Seven Days’ editors chose to feature that as a selling point to highlight this establishment ["Gourmet Onion," October 11]. ["Gourmet Onion," October 11] Chicago recently passed a city ordinance banning the sale of foie gras due to the inhumane treatment of ducks and geese. Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks and/or geese so that their liver expands to 10 times its normal size. There is no humane manner in which to attain this desired result. Companies and restaurants that sell or cook this culinary monstrosity support the continued cruelty to animals.
Shame on the Blue Star for offering this as a meal choice, and shame on Seven Days for calling attention to Blue Star’s menu without providing adequate information on such a barbaric practice. We like to think that the people of Chittenden County are at least as progressive, it not more so, than those in Chicago, and if properly informed would choose to create a similar law or ordinance in this area.
Bobby & Aly Riley
oie gras [fwɑ gʁɑ] (French for "fat liver") is the fattened liver of a duck or goose that has been overfed. Along with truffles, foie gras is one of the greatest delicacies in French cuisine—it is very rich and buttery, with a delicate flavour unlike that of a regular duck or goose liver.
All animal rights organizations, and nearly all animal welfare organizations regard the production as cruelty to animals because of the force-feeding and the health consequences resultant from enlarged livers. Foie gras production is illegal in several countries and in several U.S. jurisdictions.
The production and sale of foie gras is reportedly illegal in Israel, with prohibiting legislation pending in others. In August 2003, the Supreme Court of Israel declared foie gras production a form of cruelty to animals and made it illegal, effective March 2005. On 29 September 2004, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a state law banning the production and sale of foie gras made from the livers of force-fed ducks and geese, effective in the year 2012, nevertheless, the Californian law would allow the production and sale of foie gras produced by methods not considered cruel to animals. It is assumed that the California farmer will be able to prove his methods humane, especially since veterinarians agree with him. Similar legislation is pending in New York state. California and New York are currently the only U.S. states producing foie gras but it is sold in all states. Moreover, on 26 April 2006, the City Council of Chicago voted to make Chicago the first United States city banning the sale of foie gras, effective 22 August 2006.  Several chefs have filed suit, and the City Council is considering overturning the ban which generated outrage across the city.
Force feeding is prohibited in the following places, although the sale of foie gras is not forbidden in:
- Austria (six of nine provinces)
- The Czech Republic
- Israel (2005)
- The Netherlands
- Poland (1999 — was the world's fifth largest producer)
- The United Kingdom
- United States
France is the leading producer and consumer of duck and goose foie gras. In 2005, the country produced 18,450 tonnes of foie gras (75% of the world's estimated total production of 23,500 tonnes) of which 96% was duck liver and the rest goose liver. Total French consumption of foie gras was 19,000 tonnes in 2005. Approximately 30,000 people are members of the French foie gras industry, with 90% of them residing in the Périgord (Dordogne), the Midi-Pyrénées régions in the southwest, and (Alsace). The European Union recognizes the foie gras produced according to traditional farming methods (label rouge) in southwestern France with a geographical indication of provenance.
Hungary is the world's second-greatest foie gras producer and the largest exporter (1,920 tonnes in 2005). France is the principal market for Hungarian foie gras; mainly exported raw. Approximately 30,000 Hungarian goose farmers are dependent on the foie gras industry. French food companies spice, process, and cook the foie gras so it may be sold as a French product in its domestic and export markets.