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May 23, 2008


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which is exactly why i raise the meat my family consumes AND grow as much produce as i possibly can.
ever seen what goes on at a tyson chicken pharm? or one of the smithfield (ham) pharms? dear god in heaven, it boggles the mind. if i couldn't produce my own poultry and meat, i would go vegetarian in a minute!

Jonathan Piques

Well said. The industrialization of our nation's food has caused us (and the animals on which we depend) much, much more harm than the production and consumption of foie gras. Where are our priorities? Geez.




That's some great logic. Since foie gras isn't AS cruel as factory chicken, its ok.


I could not agree with you more. I have NO idea how or why foie gras became the focus and the enemy. Like you said, there are FAR worse things you could be eating-both because of how it was produced, and/or how the animal was treated. As a Chicago resident, I can now go back to eating my kobe beef burger with foie gras legally :)


Damn skippy.. now, someone tell that to Arnold Schwartzenegger, please! I've only got until 2012!..

Elayne Riggs

I think it's also a matter of who eats foie gras rather than who eats the mass-produced stuff. It always looks better politically to try to ban something only rich people can afford than something poor people need to eat to survive.


My sentiments, exactly, Chef! Ban McDonalds, not foie :)


Banning foie lets politicians look like they are doing something good without actually having to pay a political price for it.

Forcing fast-food chains to sell healthier food and/or to be more transparent about how utterly crappy their food is -- now that would be "too risky". It might actually piss off someone other than a small cadre of foodies! Can't have that.


I certainly agree that feedlots and multi-breasted robo chickens is not the way to go. Also, I don't think foie gras should be banned either. However, knowing how it is formed, I find it gross and enjoy not ordering it.

2 cents from Columbus.

Live to eat





The Foie Gras ban in Chicago was a cynical political stunt. An attention grab by a show-boating pol, aided by clueless and gullible colleagues. As has been pointed out, it's easy for politicians to target something that's perceived as snobbish and high-class. Chicago city council members wouldn't dare take on the hot dog producers, for instance.

I'm one of those "foodies" who actually pays attention to where food comes from. I try to buy from sources I know, and I dine at restaurants where there is a modicum of attention paid to food sourcing. I eat foie gras on occasion (sometimes in Michael Symon's restaurants), but I'd like to see more transparency from the Foie Gras producers. I know that Bourdain and others have toured Foie Gras farms and stated that the conditions are humane. Still, the producers have an uphill battle convincing the general population that they aren't "torturing" the ducks and geese. It's all too easy to anthropomorphize. A duck isn't a human being, and a duck's esophagus is different from ours...

Chef LJ

'Bout dang time is right...maybe they will think before doing things like this again anywhere else.


I have to say, I agree and disagree. I do agree completely with your comments about McDonalds and about factory farms - in fact, I only eat cage-free, grain fed meat from local farms that I can get at our local co-op (same goes for veggies, too). I also agree that the ban was a bit over the top.

However, I can't believe that the geese used in foie truly live a 'marvelous' life. I'd have to consider it anything but. Maybe if such a thing as free-ranged grain fed foie gras existed, I'd be all ears, but since such a thing defeats the purpose of foie all together... I doubt I'll find it in my local grocery, let alone my co-op.


So we have an argument from analogy: Foie Gras is banned because it requires inhumane treatment of animals for it's production. The production "yellow chickens" at the supermarket also involve a lot of inhumane treatment yet we don't ban that. So, we shouldn't ban Foie Gras.

This seems like the wrong conclusion. If we were to be ethically responsible, then we shouldn't consume anything that involves grave harm in its production. So, we shouldn't consume Foie Gras OR the so-called Yellow Chickens.

I'm for that conclusion, despite the fact that Foie Gras is delicious. (Unfortunately my tastes don't outweigh the harm done to the animals in these particular cases.)


Excuse me while I paste:

"The controversial production of foie gras (the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened) involves force-feeding birds more food than they would eat in the wild, and much more than they would voluntarily eat domestically. The feed, usually corn boiled with fat (to facilitate ingestion), deposits large amounts of fat in the liver, thereby producing the buttery consistency sought by the gastronome." source Wikipedia

I am not being humorous when I say that this issue reminded me of the old saying:

"Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg"

If a gastronome enjoys the taste of Foie Gras, and does not even know the background of it's creation, I cannot sit in judgment on their personal appetite.

I am more concerned about the treatment of fast food workers than I am of the food they prepare

Amber Neely

I once watched how they feed the ducks the foie gras, and honestly, its not that terrible. They act as though the feeding tube is inserted the entire time. Most places that have Foie Gras allow their birds fairly free-range, while mass produced chickens are left in cages most, if not all of the day, and they often have their beaks clipped short. And for those of us who would prefer to eat free range chickens, we're forced to pay extra.

Ah, politics in the marketplace. Its a sign of the times!

But I digress. I've been trying to take part of the slow-food movement (as in partaking in home made meals/avoiding fast food/mass produced goods), but I'm not going to lie. Its easier for me, seeing as I live in rural north west PA, which means for a majority of spring, summer, and fall, I can get seasonal goods at farmers market, and my family has always grown a garden full of organic veggies and fruits.

So I agree about McDonald's serving crap to people who have no idea what they're eating... But I think that even if they all knew, most people suffer from instant-gratification syndrome, and will continue to pay their eight dollars for greasy, mass produced food.

Ah well.


Amen. Sodium Nitrate, as know cancer causer (is that a word?) was banned in the 1950's. Corporate america, namely Hormel, paid millions to have that reversed and now it is pervasive again as a color/preservative. Buy nitrate free meats too.


AMEN. I couldn't have said it better myself!


Rock on! May California be next!!!

The Cheesemonger's Wife

If we are going to ban anything that is cruel...let's ban smoking from restaurants and pubs.

The Cheesemonger's Wife

If we are going to ban anything that is cruel...let's ban smoking from restaurants and pubs.


Mark and Henry made some good points. The existence of widespread cruelty in industrial agriculture does not excuse particular instances of it. One may quibble with the prioritization of dealing with one example of this over the other, but that only obscures the underlying issue of animal exploitation. As much as you critique Chicago's politicians for taking pot shots at low hanging fruit and not going after the "real" exploiters, I would imagine that you are not prepared to shift towards wholly plant based cuisine. Again this being my speculation, I would imagine that many chefs who have similar beliefs would, at the end of the day, continue to serve factory farmed chicken or pork, if the alternative (ie "humane" meat) was financially untenable. If only more chefs could get outside the meat centric paradigm and explore true alternatives in plant based cuisine.

Chef Bill Bailey

See what you started...Bring On The Pig Roast!!!!


I recommend visiting a farm if you can. The ducks and geese are mellow and line up for feeding time. At least, at the free range farms I have been to. The animals are not dragged kicking and quaking to the feeding tube, they walk up of their own volition.

what is much more cruel is how the rest of our meat is produced.

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