Foie Fight Isn’t Over

Guillermo Gonzalez of Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras / Christopher Chung PD

Just days  before the July 1 foie gras ban goes into effect, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a complaint with the California Attorney General’s office asking her to sue foie gras industry advocates who they claim are disseminating false and misleading information about humanely produced foie gras. Named in the complaint: Napa’s Ken Frank of La Toque, Guillermo Gonzalez of Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras, Rob Black of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and New York’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

Why? The timing of the complaint comes just days after foie gras enthusiasts seem to have found some support in Sacramento. Though the legislature pushed aside last minute efforts to overturn the bill in 2012, there are reports that at least one legistlator, Sen. Lois Wolk of Davis may be interested in authoring legislation to repeal the ban in 2013.

“I don’t like single-product bans, period,” Wolk told McClatchy Newspapers on Sunday. “These are never easy issues, usually characterized by a lot of intense feeling and not much fact. The chefs have been very open in how to approach this, and now we have a chance to look at this.”

With a new round of chef pushback, animal rights activists including the ALDF have continued to fight against “gavage”, the practice of force feeding geese used for foie gras production. ALDF’s complaint asks Attorney General Harris to use her power to commence civil enforcement action in superior court against the industry advocates under California’s Unfair Competition Law.  For each false or misleading statement addressed in the attorney general’s complaint, the court has the power to impose fines of up to $2,500. The ALDF has also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

This brawl ain’t over folks. Expect more fierce foie fighting to come.

Recent foie stories in the news:

Atlantic: The Last Days of Foie Gras

There May be Hope: Grubstreet

Foie Fight Over: Press Democrat

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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28 Comments

  1. Hmm i hope you do not get annoyed with this question, but how much does a website like yours earn?

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  2. I agree with the ban although it is completely a nanny-state thing to do. Well, if 75% of the state of California votes for Dems this is what you get. I don’t vote for them, they make me ill but I am a big animal rights fan.

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  3. Pate is the new foie. I’m serious. I love foie, but I’m okay switching to chicken.

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  4. the whole thing is a nightmare – I do not see the need to torture an animal before killing it – these guys had seven years to come up w/ something and waited ’til last minute and are crying – too bad! just because something has been done for years does not make it right – animals CANNOT speak for themselves, vote or hire a lawyer and until they can someone has to be their advocate – eat tofu it is better for you anyway and wasn’t alive! DUH!

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    • I think conversation has pretty much been shut down by people yelling their personal politics at each other. No one is listening anymore.

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  5. The treatment and slaughtering of chickens is pretty brutal, yet chicken is the biggest selling animal product. I wish people would do the research. It’s not just about putting a tube in a ducks throat. If you watch the process, they willingly run er waddle to the feeding line. Sen Wolk is correct: a lot of people’s feelings driving this ban and not a lot of fact.

    If folks agree with the ban or not, the point that concerns me is that law makers are taking away our freedom to choose. Government should stay out of those types of choices, just like what type of birth control people use. I don’t like the ‘idea’ of veal so I don’t eat it, but I would never tell someone that they can’t eat it. I wonder if the man that said he won’t let his friends eat at an establishment that sells fois gras, eats chicken. But what kind of friend is that anyway.

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    • And what about the animal’s freedom to choose? I guess that doesn’t matter since they’re just another worthless, disposable good that’s here for our use, to mutilate as we please.

      What’s equally sad is that these producers and chefs have deemed that this issue is of such importance that they will tie up the state legislature to lobby it while were in the middle of a budget crisis. Talk about living in a bubble.

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      • Exactly, it’s called the food chain.

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        • You mean the consumer chain? I’ll put a salary check down that most people commenting on this have never killed and slaughtered their own food.

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          • I have slaughtered my own food. The food objected, and I was bigger and stronger and better armed and so I prevailed.

            I have incisors and eyes toward the front on my head (rather than a gizzard and eyes on the sides of my head) because I am congenitally predatory. I eat meat, and I can afford to have someone else kill it for me – so, I do. I also hire people to grind my wheat into flour.

            A final thought for you – research indicates that when one tree in a forest is struck with an axe, nearby trees show a spike in electrical activity that mirrors the struck tree’s own spike in electrical activity. You can’t eat unless you kill. Accept that truth, or find an ecologically sound way to suicide.

          • To make it clear, I’m not advocating vegetarianism. In the past couple posts I’ve subtly tried to make two points.

            1. There’s a big difference between using animals as a food source and subjecting them to inhumane practices. At times bordering on mutilation.

            2. Too many people use the “food chain” argument when they’ve done nothing but bought factory farmed meat cuts from the grocery store their whole lives. Seems contadictory when trying to assert one’s dominance in the food chain when they don’t even know what part of the animal it’s from. There are rare exceptions, but we are no longer predators. We are consumers and raises of livestock.

  6. Don’t the legislators have anything better to do than worry about foie gras? Like maybe fixing the economy of California, how about making living here a little better? How about fixing the roads and schools before regulating how and what I eat…….?

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  7. Dog and horse meat is also illegal to eat in California. Had them both and prefer them to foie gras.

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  8. Lois Wolk is the new state senator for parts of Sonoma County. Sorry to say, I question her judgment in jumping onto the wrong side of this issue. It wasn’t the introduction to her I’d been hoping for.

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    • Hey Andy. I hadn’t realized Wolk’s district was going to include SoCo…makes it even more interesting locally. I passed the story to the newsroom, so they may be following this more in depth.

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      • Petaluma for sure. Not sure where else. Probably Sonoma under the circumstances.

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        • Actually, Wolk does not represent Sonoma County.

          Currently the county is represented by Mark Leno and Noreen Evans.

          Wolk represents the 5th District near Sacramento.

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          • In this last election, she was running uncontested for the state senate seat that includes Petaluma — but you’re probably right that she isn’t yet representing Sonoma County. That’ll probably occur in January. Thanks for the clarification.

      • Yes, my understanding is that she will rep parts of SoCo next year…and she is talking about introducing the bill in 2013. So…yeah.

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  9. I make it a point to order foie gras any time I see it on a menu, I love it. And I want to support the people producing it. All a ban does is drive the business out of state, how stupid can people be to drive wealth away. The rest of the country (and the world) looks a California like a bunch of fools for this kind of stuff. People have a right to grow ducks and eat them, get over it. Don’t you animal rights jerks have anything better to do than trying to ruin an entire industry? I don’t have objections to your tofu.

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    • The foie gras business represents barely a fraction of an entirely insignificant amount of direct or indirect revenue for the state. It’s silly to state this ban is driving away “wealth.” I will agree that it’s unfortunate there are a few people who will lose their livelihoods and family businesses. When I vote, my concerns are for me, my family, my city, county and state. That anyone would consider what people outside California think of us based on the legal choices we make for our own collective good is childish and dangerous. And because I’m an animal rights proponent I’m therefore a jerk? I’m also a human rights proponent, for the exact same reasons. Does me voicing my opinion and taking action against human trafficking also making me a jerk for trying to “ruin an entire industry?” I don’t eat tofu.

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  10. Come on face it, stuffed duck liver is terrible. How about this if you really like the stuff…go over to France and trying making Foie Grose! Wake up it is time to face reality, this is a very inhumain dish and should be outlawed once and for all. I will never step foot into a restrauant that serves it and I will make sure my friends do not either.

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    • It is actually quite good. I have had all sorts of Foie Gras dishes. Sad to see it go and the jobs that it employed. It is not inhumane if we are using it for food. Have you ever seen a slaughterhouse? So whats the difference.

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      • When an animal has to endure torture before they are killed it is not humane. After Foie Gras is gone, I hope they ban yeal, locked in a crate and fed milk until they die. Sounds like hell on earth.

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      • So if we do the same to you and then eat you is is OK?

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        • Sorry the reply was meant for Phil B.

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