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Oddly, The NY Times Describes Return of Foie Gras to California as Insignificant

January 14, 2015 by Leave a Comment


Opinion

The NY Times regularly publishes substantive stories about the cruelty of industrialized animal agriculture, giving readers a disturbing peak over the high walls and into the windowless sheds that house the 10 billion farm animals slaughtered for food each year in the U.S. And, while the NY Times will never go far enough to satisfy those who espouse an entirely cruelty-free diet, its coverage of the horrors of factory farming is most welcome and appreciated by advocates.

Factory farm sheds where animals are held prisoner for their entire lives

Factory farms have no windows so that people cannot see where their meals are raised.

Today, the Times published a lengthy story by op-ed writer Mark Bittman arguing that the recent return of foie gras in California is insignificant because it affects only 600,000 animals nationwide, which is less than the number of chickens killed each hour in the U.S: “The lifting of the California ban against selling foie gras is pretty much a nonissue, except to point out that as a nation we have little perspective on animal welfare. To single out the tiniest fraction of meat production and label it ‘cruel’ is to miss the big picture, and the big picture is this: Almost all meat production in the United States is cruel.”

"No. Not again."

Ducks and geese are force fed through a metal pipe 3X daily in the weeks before slaughter.

While Mr. Bittman’s references to the cruelty of animal farming and his use of graphic words like “torturous” are praiseworthy, his suggestion that the return of foie gras is insignificant is perplexing. Why dismiss as irrelevant the reversal of much-needed protections that advocates worked tirelessly to achieve? Mr. Bittman might believe that “foie gras itself just isn’t that important,” but the ducks and geese who are throat-raped with a metal pipe three times a day would probably beg to differ.

Activists with PETA protest the return of foie gras in California (photo: PETA)

Activists with PETA protest the return of foie gras in California at Hot’s Kitchen in Los Angeles (photo: PETA)

Greedy, Heartless Owner of Hot's Kitchen, Sean Chaney, Sued to Legalize Foie Gras (photo: easyreadernews.com)

Greedy, Heartless Owner of Hot’s Kitchen, Sean Chaney, Sued to Legalize Foie Gras in CA (photo: easyreadernews.com)

Mr. Bittman: Is it too late to reframe the story by saying, “We must advocate to reinstate California’s foie gras ban AND work to help the billions of abused chickens, pigs, cows and fish who have been left behind.”

Ironically, the return of foie gras to California comes at a time when this “delicacy of despair” is coming under fire in the foie gras capital of the world — France.

Your Turn

Please sign the petition to re-instate the law banning foie gras in the state of California.


Filed under: Food, Opinion
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In World’s Foie Gras Capital, the “Delicacy of Despair” is Coming Under Fire

December 31, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Eighty percent of the world’s foie gras is produced in France, where it is protected by law as part of the country’s “cultural and gastronomical heritage.” But even in France, where it is regarded by many as a food group, the delicacy of despair is coming under fire.

Photo: L214

In the past several weeks, three incidents have compromised foie gras’ once esteemed place in French society.

1. A poll taken in France shows increased opposition to foie gras.  In December, 47% of those surveyed said they would support a ban –  a 3% increase from 2013. In addition, 77% said they would prefer foie gras that was not made through gavage, French for force feeding. (Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size. The pipes are inserted 12″ down their gullets three times daily in the weeks leading up to slaughter.)

"No. Not again."

Gavage (force feeding)

2. Legendary actress Brigrette Bardot filed a formal appeal with the EU Commission to ban the production of foie gras. In an open letter to the  Health Commissioner, she argued that, because many EU countries have already outlawed force feeding, the EU Commission should “harmonize laws against this cruel and barbaric practice” by banning it in all member countries. After all, she says, force feeding “goes against European values of promoting animal welfare.”

Photo: Corbis

Photo: Corbis

3. British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal dropped his foie gras supplier in France after The Daily Mirror released footage of dead and injured ducks that a veterinarian described as a “representation of hell.” A spokesman for his restaurant, which is ironically named Fat Duck, said, “We were shocked at the video and the conditions in which the ducks were apparently being kept.” Fat Duck is currently closed for renovations, but the menu on its website does not contain foie gras.

Chef Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck in the U.K. (photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Chef Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck in the U.K. (photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The movement to ban foie gras is still young, but significant progress has made. In 2004, California banned the production and sale of foie gras. The law went into effect in 2012. In October, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the California law, sending a strong message to other states that they can, as California Attorney General stated, pass laws that “prohibit the sale of products based on concerns about animal welfare.”

In the U.K., foie gras production is illegal, and activist groups are advocating to end the sale. Since August, Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at least six restaurants.

Hertfordshire Animal Rights

Hertfordshire Animal Rights

Israel, India and Argentina have imposed restrictions on the production, sale and/or importation of foie gras.

After France, the world’s largest producers of foie gras are Hungary (8%) and Bulgaria (6%). The U.S. produces just over 1% of the world’s supply.

As the public is increasingly exposed to the cruelty of foie gras production, “tradition” will become a much weaker justification. After all, if Barcelona can ban bullfighting, then France can – and eventually will – ban force feeding.

Your Turn

Please share this story to educate others about the cruelty of foie gras, and please sign the petition to ban the production and importation of foie gras in the EU.

If you have never seen force-feeding, please watch this video created by Last Chance for Animals.


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California’s Foie Gras Ban Has Far Reaching Implications

October 15, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In a major victory for ducks, geese and their advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the California law banning the sale and production of foie gras. The Court’s decision sends a strong message to other states that they can, as  California Attorney General stated, pass laws that “prohibit the sale of products based on concerns about animal welfare.”

Force feeding

Force feeding

Described by activists as a “delicacy of despair,” foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size. The pipes are inserted 12″ down their esophaguses three times daily in the weeks leading up to slaughter.

In 2013, Mercy For Animals used hidden cameras at the nation’s largest producer to document the abuse inherent in foie gras production:

The fight to ban foie gras has taken many turns. In Chicago, a 2006 ban on the sale of foie gras was reversed in 2008, representing a major setback for activists who lobbied tirelessly in support of the law. In England, on the other hand, the group Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at least six restaurants since August.

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in London

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk in London

The Artisan Farmers Alliance, a trade association for America’s three foie gras producers, is working to curb bans on foie gras by “educating the public about our centuries-old farming practices” and by “defending the rights of consumers to make their own decisions about food.” Of course, it is the job of activists to defend the ducks and geese from animal exploiters who spin cruelty into freedom of choice.

Your Turn

Please sign the current petition to ban the production and importation of foie gras in Europe.


Filed under: Food, Investigations
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Shortest Animal Rights Campaign In History?

September 23, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Eight hours after an animal rights group asked its supporters to leave comments opposing foie gras on the Facebook wall of The Sopwell House, the well-known hotel and spa in England announced that it will remove foie gras from its restaurant’s menu. It was that easy.

“We have reconsidered our offerings, and this dish will now be removed by our Executive Head Chef. Kindly note that it will take a couple of weeks for our menus to be reprinted. However, please be reassured that we are no longer serving foie gras.”

Sopwell House ends sale of foie gras

Sopwell House to remove foie gras from menu

In response to the news, Hertfordshire Animal Rights spokesperson Tod Bradbury said, “We would like to publicly thank Sopwell House for listening to the concerns of the public. Foie gras does not belong in a civilised society – it is undeniably cruel. We hope Sopwell House can be an inspiration to other purveyors of foie gras in the area.”

Foie gras is produced by force feeding ducks and geese through metal pipes until their livers become diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size.

foie gras force feeding

Hertfordshire Animal Rights has stopped the sale of foie gras at five restaurants in England since August and intends to continue its campaign until the region is foie gras free. In the United States, the production and sale of foie gras were banned in California in 2012. A similar ban was passed in Chicago in 2006, but it was overturned in 2008.

In his 2011 book The Foie Gras Wars, Chicago Tribune reporter Marc Caro profiled the Humane League of Philadelphia’s multi-year campaign to stop the sale of foie gras in local restaurants. According to activist Nick Cooney, who ran the campaign, between 80% – 85% of the targeted restaurants ultimately removed foie gras from the menu.

foie gras wars

Your Turn

As evidenced by the victories in England, California and Philadelphia, grassroots activism works. If you live near a restaurant that serves foie gras, then you can employ the same tactics used by Hertfordshire Animal Rights and the Humane League to campaign against the sale of foie gras. To learn more, please watch Farm Sanctuary’s undercover investigation of a foie gras farm.


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Victory: Renowned Restaurant Takes Foie Gras Off the Menu

September 16, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

A well-known restaurant in England that accused animal-rights activists of blackmail for protesting its sale of foie gras has taken the “delicacy of despair” off the menu.

The owner of the Bricklayers Arms stands by his right to sell foie gras based on “the laws of supply and demand,” but he will no longer serve it because of the “hatred that has been directed at the pub via social media, email and phone calls” and a six person protest in front of the restaurant on Saturday.

Photo: hemeltoday.co.uk

Photo: hemeltoday.co.uk

Hertfordshire Animal Rights, which organized the campaign, thanked the owner for removing foie gras in spite of the fact that he is unwilling to acknowledge that force feeding ducks and geese through a tube inserted down their throats until their livers expand to 10 times their natural size is reason alone to take it off the menu.

Opinion

Author Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The success of Hertfordshire Animal Rights’ anti-foie gras campaign gives credence to these words of wisdom which have inspired and galvanized activists to fight for the animals, even in the toughest of circumstances.


Filed under: Food, Victories
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