Saturday, April 29, 2006

Chicago Bans Foie Gras.

Chicago is the first city that voted a ban on Foie Gras. That's no joke. The fine for selling it can be as high as $500. The state of Illinois has outlawed the production of foie gras but so far, you could still still buy it. California has also become the first state to ban the sale and production of foie gras but the law won't become effective until 2012. Other states are considering a ban : Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii and New York.
Some French animal rights advocates have also protested the treatment of animals during the force feeding process but it has not really caught on.
On the one hand, I don't really care for the defense of foie gras on the ground of "cultural exception" (isn 't that what the Japanese claim with whale-hunting?) but the pain of force feeding might not be any worse than other treatmen of animals:
The EU committee carried out several tests designed to detect pain or distress by looking at blood hormones and all of them were inconclusive or without any measurable difference to similarly raised animals.
Producers, and the EU report, also answer the criticism of increased mortality by noting that the overall mortality rate of ducks and geese in foie gras production is much less than that of farm raised chickens and turkeys.
Well, I am no expert, but it seems to me that the issue is a bit blown out of proportion in this day and age. As Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley noted, there may be more pressing matters:
We have children getting killed by gang leaders and dope dealers," Daley said in an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times. "We have real issues here in this city. And we're dealing with foie gras? Let's get some priorities."
The mayor makes sense to me. There is a war out there, people being killed or tortured and what about human obesity? I would be more concerned about the liver of those Chicagoans who are obese:
Two out of three children are obese in Chicago's minorities... and we're not talking about geese here... but on the other hand, there's no quick fix - you can't "ban them" even though they're just minorities.

NOTE: The irony is that in France, Chicago is synonymous with gun violence (thanks to the old Chicago of Al Capone). Recently a newspaper quoted someone about street violence, saying “Nobody dares going outside anymore, it’s like Chicago here“.
It just shows that stereotypes die hard on both sides of the Atlantic.

I am no expert on foie gras production, I just know that then end-product tastes real good!


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