Californians Chowing Down On Foie Gras As Statewide Ban Begins This Weekend

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without fattened goose liver? No? Many Californians are facing that very prospect, as a statewide ban on foie gras goes into effect on Sunday. Apparently everyone there is going nuts and eating anything and everything made with the stuff, from jelly doughnuts to toffee.

The Wall Street Journal says business is booming at restaurants offering foie gras on their menus this week, as customers seek out the culinary delicacy and prepare to bid it adieu. Chefs are even planning foie gras finale parties on Saturday night to give it a proper sendoff.

“It’s a very difficult thing to say goodbye to,” says one restaurant co-owner and chef. He’s going to leave a gap in his menu in memory of the formerly offered dish.

Californians have had more than seven years to prepare for the foi gra-calypse, as lawmakers banned it in 2004 and set 2012 as the food’s final act.

Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks and geese to enlarge their livers, a practice animal rights activists call torture. Livers from birds that eat more naturally will still be for sale legally, but chefs say those just taste don’t as good.

A cook’s group called the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, or CHEFS, says it is planning to fight for a repeal of the law.

But for now, enjoy that foie gras cocktail while it lasts, guys!

With Time Running Out, California Is Gorging Itself on Foie Gras [Wall Street Journal]

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    It takes 8 years for a law to go into effect? No wonder why Kalifornia is in trouble.

  2. Bladerunner says:

    “Livers from birds that eat more naturally will still be for sale legally, but chefs say those just taste don’t as good.”

    We have to torture them. Makes ‘em taste better!

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Pretty soon companies will offer incentives for “gooses” to stuff
      their faces, without revealing their ulterior motives of course.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      I saw a video about this recently on a newscast and they were detailing the process and what determines the feeding cycle. What I though was pretty interesting is that you constantly hear about the “torture”, yet in the video, the ducks did not seem particularly scared and when the food was dropped into their mouths then walked away, they didn’t appear to be particularly traumatized.

      I’m guessing there must be different processes for this food product as the one I saw in the story did not match up with a lot of the claims people make about it.

      • Cantras says:

        The picture I saw had a goose with a tube down its throat and a funnel feeding into the tube. Maybe what you were seeing was the “eat more naturally”? *shrug*

      • MikeLynnTurtle says:

        The process is actually pretty barbaric and incredibly cruel and inhumane. Look for undercover footage of foie gras factories. That’ll show you the horror and pain these animals have to endure. As the person below me commented, they ram a tube down the goose/duck’s neck and pump them full of food. Much of the time, this causes neurological damage, as evidenced by the animals unable to keep their balance and involuntarily swaying while in a sitting position. This also incapacitates them enough that they are unable to walk. As a result, rats feed on them while they’re alive. They suffer terrible bites, scratches, wounds, and infections, which not only causes unbearable pain, but sadly, claims the lives of many of them.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      I have never tried foie gras, but I think it’s the fat content that gives the liver a more buttery and delicate taste.

      I am generally not a fan of any type of liver, though, so I’m sure I’m not trying this anytime soon.

  3. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Jelly beans and doughnuts made with diseased goose/duck liver? Jesus God!

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      My mistake. I meant to type “jelly doughnuts.” But still… Jesus God!

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Liver stuffed jelly beans actually sounds quite delectable.

        Runs to patent office to register idea.

    • Cerne says:

      Diseased? Where are you getting that from?

      • Gambrinus says:

        Well, the point of the force-feeding is that it causes the liver to become fatty, which is legitimately a disease.

        Stuff’s delicious, though. Glad they’re not banning it here.

        • Cerne says:

          Having fatty liver for a month s barely a condition, let alone a disease. A delicious, delicious condition.

  4. AtlantaCPA says:

    It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of black market arises after this weekend. How long will it take to spring up? Who will run it, people who were respectable before the law and now are outlaws, or will existing criminals add it to their cargo and get in on the fatty liver trade?

    • RandomHookup says:

      It’ll be just like “Smoky and the Bandit”.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      I’m envisioning a scene not unlike this one from the Simpsons:

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        I think it would go down like this:
        Waiter: “I’m sorry sir, Foie Gras is no longer legal in this… follow me”
        [leads you through the kitchen to a basement room]
        Waiter: “The first rule of Foie Gras club, is you don’t talk about Foie Gras club”

        • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

          And then it would go —
          “Foie Gras Club was the beginning, now it’s moved out of the basement, it’s called Project Gavage.”

    • Cerne says:

      Nevada is right on the border they’re already selling Californians light bulbs fois gras will just be a nice sideline.

  5. GitEmSteveDaveHatesChange says:

    Actually, you don’t have to force feed them. There is a farm that does it naturally.

    • Danno23 says:

      That would be where I would draw the line.
      “Overfeeding”? Fine. “Force feeding”? Over the line. Ban the method, not the product.

  6. Tim says:

    The law should take effect on a Wednesday. Then, they could have one last Tuesday to pig out on it, and call it “Mardi Foie Gras.”

    Oh, one more: Californians are basically force-feeding themselves foie gras before the ban takes effect!

    • Danno23 says:

      Nice pun. “Mardi Foie Gras” gave me a chuckle.

      Also, interesting possibilities for some meta-food. Perhaps eat the livers of the Californians force feeding themselves? Or even force feed those livers to some geese for some Meta Foie Gras?

  7. Not Given says:

    Meanwhile: The ethical calculus of foie gras

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/29/opinion/29iht-eddownes.html?_r=1

  8. ARP3 says:

    We had a ban like this in Chicago for a while. A few places ignored it, and one of my favorite places, “Hot Dougs” openly flouted the law, electing to pay the $300 fine on a few ocassions. We eventually came to our senses and repealed the ban.

    I agree that fois gras is the result of cruel treatment of animals. But its very tasty and if you look at our factory farm systems, we should be banning our entire system.

    • ARP3 says:

      …meaning, if we’re banning because its cruel, then we’re being hypocritical because the rest of our factory farming system is cruel. I would like to see real reforms rather than they sort of legislation.

      • Bladerunner says:

        Rather than baby steps, you’d like us to take no steps at all?

        • Mr. Spy says:

          ARP3 is just saying that based on his own cities experience. In the case of his example, yes, it would have been better to not take any steps at all. Instead they collected a lot of fines and really didn’t help anything.

          But you can’t translate one region to another. And this law might actually have teeth, I don’t really know.

          I’m actually glad about this law though. I’m not a big tree hugger, but both veal and fois gras seem cruel. I wish they were banned everywhere.

          • Bladerunner says:

            I don’t think it was a comment on the ineffectiveness of the legislation, but rather on the supposed hypocrisy of banning one kind of cruelty while leaving others intact:
            “…if we’re banning because its cruel, then we’re being hypocritical because the rest of our factory farming system is cruel. I would like to see real reforms rather than they sort of legislation.[sic]”

            In other words, rather than legislation that addresses one kind of cruelty, it would be better to address all of it at once…while I like the idea of getting rid of all the cruelty, it seems foolish to me to say , “therefore I don’t like this baby step in the right direction”.

        • Actionable Mango says:

          “you’d like us to take no steps at all?”

          You couldn’t bother to read the second sentence?

          “I would like to see real reforms”

      • Applekid says:

        There’s a difference between foie gras, a basically non-nutritious indulgence, and the products of factory farms.

  9. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    “I’d like to buy a funnel, and a few of those gooslings over there. Oh, and some really fattening goose food”.

  10. jsn says:

    … most, if not all, American foie gras is produced in the Hudson Valley, as described here:

    http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/12/the-physiology-of-foie-why-foie-gras-is-not-u.html

  11. gman863 says:

    Does this mean people will start selling it in dime bags on the street?

  12. B* says:

    “Livers from birds that eat more naturally will still be for sale legally, but chefs say those just taste don’t as good.”
    “chefs say those just taste don’t as good”
    “just taste don’t as good”

    wut

  13. Cerne says:

    Too bad for California. I can’t afford it on anything like a regular basis but fois gras is fantastic and the ethical case against it is mostly bogus.

    • Ben says:

      It’s only bogus if you lack critical thinking skills.

      • KyBash says:

        It is completely bogus.

        Watch it being done — the animals are clearly not distressed by it. They’re not comfortable, but factory work and road paving aren’t exactly equivalent to a day at a spa either.

        • Tim says:

          Forcibly shoving a feeding tube down a goose’s throat doesn’t distress the goose? The proven injuries to the goose’s mouth and throat … those don’t distress it either?

          If that were the case, you wouldn’t have to force feed the goose at all. He’d just eat as much as you want him to.

      • Cerne says:

        What critical think went on here? Is there any proof these geese are in pain or being terrorized compared to geese raised to be roasted?

  14. longtimelistener says:

    I’ll preface this by saying I’ve never eaten foie gras and that I do eat at McDonald’s occasionally.

    What I don’t understand about the ban is why it is acceptable and San Francisco’s attempt to ban the marketing of fast food to children was not? And I don’t mean just on this site.

    Both would seem to be about replacing individual responsibility with government prohibition.

    Obesity does seem to be increasing and corporations are spending large sums of money to influence children and adults. Why couldn’t we say that they can’t market to children?

    Foie gras exists on a scale of treatment. Is it better or worse than the treatment of an average chicken? Why is this ban acceptable, and one that banned cattle feed lots wouldn’t be? Is it an issue of who is affected?

  15. dourdan says:

    foie gras is gross. just sear off a frozen chunk of butter and call it a day.

  16. alana0j says:

    Funny how over-feeding these animals is torture, yet many Americans do it to themselves and their children everyday

  17. Libertas1 says:

    I bathe in the tears of children. It keeps me young.

  18. mingtae says:

    But if it was bacon doughnuts then would you be all for it?

  19. DragonThermo says:

    This is just going to feed black market foie gras. Drug dealers will diversify their operations to start trafficking in foie gras. Gangland style shootings near upscale restaurants will erupt.

  20. thenutman69321 says:

    Stupid animal rights bs. You know they’re gonna be killed and eaten right? Who gives a shit how they’re treated.

  21. Kestris says:

    Not wondering what my life would be like without foie gras, as it’s still liver, no matter what fancy French name they stick on it and I absolutely detest liver.

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      Not trying to sway you, but it actually tastes nothing like liver. More like crisco than liver. Sounds good eh?

      • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

        I don’t think I enjoy Crisco in its raw form. I am also not a fan of liver — maybe if foie gras was offered to me for free I will take a taste of it…

        I just thought it’s probably like caviar or truffles — all the hype because it’s rare, but it really doesn’t taste any special. I’ve only tried caviar, though — unfortunately, I thought it was nasty. Not discrediting it, so maybe I just had a cheap version of it.

        I want a blind taste test with these — just compare dishes cooked with and without them and figure out which tastes better, as I sometimes I wonder if it’s psychological for people — if just because they know it’s truffles they think it tastes better… kind of like what Penn & Teller did with the bottled spring water BS.

  22. Ayla says:

    I can’t stand it when they pass laws on what people can eat. Ack! If foie gras is so horrible, educate people so they don’t want to eat and the “problem” will go away on it’s own, but don’t limit people’s rights.