We’re three days into July now, and that’s also three days into the foie gras ban that was enacted in California back in 2004 but has just now taken effect. While we’re sure that clever chefs will figure out workarounds, the long and short of it is that Californians are now prohibited from producing and selling (though not posessing) foie gras.
Whether or not the foie gras ban is right nor not is an extremely sensitive subject that prompts arguments from both sides. On one end of the spectrum are those who believe in higher humane farming standards over total prohibition, and on the other end there are those who believe that any foie gras production whatsoever is by its very nature inhumane. Then, there are those who just think it is absolutely delicious. All of these angles are covered in a short video produced by social cause-based media site TakePart.
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One lesser-covered side that they tackle is of those chefs who want to improve farming standards without eschewing foie gras wholesale. The accompanying article touches the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards (CHEFS), a group of culinary professionals working to overturn the ban in favor of fostering sustainable and humane standards while cracking down on animal abuse and unethical treatment. TakePart also visits Craig Daniels, executive chef at Pasadena’s Haven Gastropub and a supporter of these better standards, in the video:
Just days before the ban went into effect, Daniels told us he was "selling as much foie as we can, and just letting people know what's going on." He prepared a seared foie gras over brioche toast, and explained that he favored a set of regulations that required ethical treatment of birds raised for foie, not an outright ban.
"People think that it sounds barbaric, but the fact of the matter is, ducks aren't mammals," Daniels said. "Their anatomy is completely different from humans'. They're used to swallowing whole fish. A [feeding] pipe like that isn't hurting them. Science is behind us on that."
When debates over ethics and standards can often degrade into each side immutably shouting the other down, it’s important to be reminded that some debates don’t have to have an all-or-nothing outcome – especially a topic as nuanced as this one. Check out the video here: