Foie Gras Ban

If Californians did not have enough problems already, they are about to be deprived of delicious, fattened liver. As of July 1, when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2004 “Force Fed Birds” act finally took effect, California became the first state in the nation to ban foie gras.

The law prohibits “a person from force-feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond a normal size” and bans out-of-state sales of foie gras. It does not make the possession or consumption of foie gras illegal, but it does ensure that restaurants serving foie gras will face a $1,000 fine. (Or is that now a “tax,” per SCOTUS?)

The adoption of the law was prompted by efforts from a widespread coalition of animal-rights groups protesting the process of gavage, wherein a farmer force-feeds corn to either a duck or goose so that its liver swells to a desirable size.

To get a sense of the debate surrounding the bill’s initial passage, note the argument of State Senator John Burton, its drafter: He likened gavage to waterboarding and genital mutilation. “We shouldn’t just be cramming a tube down a duck’s throat and forcing in food to make foie gras,” he said.

But, foie gras, a centuries-old delicacy, has since found many vocal defenders in California who are pushing back.

Some, like the newly founded Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards (CHEFS), say the law goes too far. “It would lead to the widespread production and sale of contraband, black-market foie gras that would be dangerous to animal welfare and customers,” the CHEFS website states. Others, including a wide range of prominent restaurants across the state, reject the ban as an assault on a culinary tradition. France, which produces nearly 80 percent of the world’s foie gras, has also weighed in: A spokesman for France’s foreign ministry said in an online press briefing that his country “can only regret California’s decision.”

In the meantime, restaurants are offering decadent foie-gras-farewell events, and citizens are stocking up on the product while they can: “Drunken Duck Speakeasy,” an eight-course, all-foie-gras feast, and foie-gras doughnuts are just some of the last hurrahs planned at eateries around the state. Despite such hoopla, the law seems likely to stand.

And that has real consequences beyond the palates of Californians. Some restaurants and businesses — such as Mirepoix USA, a website that specializes in foie gras — have already relocated out of the state. The Sonoma-Artisan Foie Gras company (California’s only foie gras farm) and many others farms nationwide are fearing financial troubles as they brace for the loss of California customers.

Duck, duck, goose: These birds are only the most recent job creators pushed out of the Golden State.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More