An Opinion Piece by Ariane Daguin
Although foie gras production methods are safe and humane, animal rights extremists are pushing to make the delicacy illegal throughout the country. This movement is not only anti-agriculture, but at its very soul, anti-American. Currently, the only state with a ban in place is California, where producing and selling foie gras will be prohibited as of July 1, 2012. Not only will this decimate the only foie gras farm in the state, it will impact countless restaurants. The ban infringes on the freedom of the nearly 40 million citizens of California.
What is Anthony Bourdain's view after filming at a foie gras farm for "No Reservations"?
- The flip side: What did a historic Jewish rabbi and scholar say of force-feeding ducks?
- The light side: Where can you get faux gras and mac and cheese?
- The fiery side: What ban advocated by animal rights activists is stirring cries of discrimination?
Even if you don't eat or sell foie gras, this ban will impact you. The issue is not about whether the production methods are safe and humane -- scientific studies prove they are. The issue is the right of the public to choose what to eat. It is about the American value of freedom, which includes the freedom to eat and sell what is lawfully produced.
Animal rights extremists seek a nationwide foie gras prohibition. If foie gras producers and consumers give up without a fight in California, tomorrow they will seek to ban even more animal products.
The outcry from those who would ban foie gras completely is centered on the gavage method of feeding, which prohibitionists claim is inhumane. We know it is not. But don't take our word for it. Check out the following facts and read Zester Daily online for a full discussion of these points.
Fact No. 1: Ducks have no gag reflex and their esophagi have a tough lining, so they can swallow huge fish or other prey without pain. As the National Audubon Society states: " ... birds have a remarkable ability to expand the mouth and stretch the esophagus to swallow large prey."
Fact No. 2. In nature, web-footed birds gorge themselves and store calories as fat in their livers prior to migration. The effect is reversible, proving that a fattened liver (foie gras) is a natural propensity in ducks and geese.
Fact No. 3. Independent vets and scientists conclude that gavage causes ducks no harm.
Fact No. 4. American foie gras is raised on small-scale farms using artisanal methods.
Fact No. 5. The American Veterinary Medical Association has investigated foie gras production and has refused to take a position against it.
The bottom line is that foie gras production is humane, and though practiced by a very few farms in the United States, it is accepted in the mainstream of animal agriculture. If one looks to scientific studies, it is evident that claims of animal cruelty are simply not supported by the facts.
To learn more visit the Artisan Farmers Alliance website.
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This week's Zester soapbox contributor, Ariane Daguin, is the owner of specialty foods company D'Artagnan, and a pioneer in the world of sustainable and organic foie gras production. Thanks to her father, the renowned Andre Daguin, she was expert at deboning and preparing ducks by age 10, and went on to become the first purveyor of game and foie gras in the U.S. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit in 2005 and the French Legion of Honor in 2006.
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Foie gras not to your taste? Here are more fresh takes on Zester Daily:
- Diary of a mad foodie: Are you alone in having spirited arguments about what kind of chocolate makes the best brownies?
- Mourning candy raisins: How did corporate candy spell the death of a regional Wisconsin specialty candy?
- Sustainable isn't simple: What's the point of the "blacklisted fish dinner"?
- Preserving food diversity: What is a Carmangola pepper and why protect it?
- A beef with new-age vegetarians: Is the modern push to ban meat nothing more than a bourgeois eating disorder?