The sale and production of foie gras was officially banned in the state of California on July 1st through a law that was voted on and signed in 2004. For the uninitiated, foie gras is duck or goose liver which has been fattened by “gavage”, a French term for snaking a metal tube into the fowl’s esophagus and then pumping in corn or other grain. This force-feeding makes the animals liver swell, sometimes to 10 times it’s original size, and become quite delicious apparently. For somewhat obvious reasons animal rights advocates see this technique as blatant abuse and have fought successfully to have it banned but chefs groups and restaurant associations have vowed to have the new law repealed and claim that ducks and geese have no gag reflex and naturally gorge themselves in preparation for winter, so there is no harm done.
I have covered a few different events dealing with this issue lately as the ban date loomed, most involving farewell dinners and protesters picketing outside.
First was a foir gras dinner at Baywolf in Oakland where a group of protesters showed up and raised a ruckus outside, enough so that a customer felt compelled to engage in a little shoving match with them. For the SF Chronicle.
Tracy Lee(center) held a private foie gras dinner party at her apartment in Los Gatos that guests signed up for through a website that she runs in order to deter protesters. For the Telegraph of London.
Director Karen Courtemanche of Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary in Stockton has, among other animals, ducks that are thought to be rescues from a foie gras farm. For the SF Chronicle.
Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco held it’s last foie gras dinner and fundraiser on June 30th, the eve of the impending ban. For the SF Chronicle.