Five reasons why the foie gras ban in California is super-stupid

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Starting July 1, California will enforce a ban on foie gras -- delicious, delicious, fatty goose/duck liver -- and while PETA is thrilled, chefs are pissed. Why the ban on these tasty liver-lobes? Gavage, or forced tube-feeding off the animals, is seen as cruel and inhumane. But neither side in this debate is particularly adept in stating their case for this new law.

Here are five reasons the foie gras ban in California is super-stupid. Duck death before dishonor, my fellow foodies:

5. Chefs can be whiny, self-serving bitches.

And now we all get to hear some of them whine about this for a while -- at least until they find something else to whine about. Apparently there comes a point when you've spent so much time in the kitchen/on a TV studio set/in a kitchen on a TV studio set that you start to lose perspective, begin force-feeding yourself your own hype, and hyper-focus on seriously minuscule issues like foie gras -- or just use the controversy to help yourself to free press.

If you are Top Chef's Nyesha Arrington, you'll hold an anti-ban dinner to help set you apart from the horde of other Top Chef-lings; if you are Chris Cosentino -- chef and co-owner of San Francisco's Incanto -- you will be a drama queen and take stuff that animal activists say about you way too seriously, and if you are Wolfgang Puck, you vocally oppose the use of fatty liver so that you can convince yourself and anyone else who will listen that you are still relevant even though it isn't 1997 anymore.

4. There are bigger culinary crimes to decry.

There are factory-farmed cows, disease-ridden poultry, Monsanto doing whatever hippies say they are doing to f*ck over the human race this week, starving children in Africa/Texas/the City of Denver, and more recent food recalls than you can shake a huge, filthy stick at. So why does prohibiting a few well-heeled chefs from serving expensive liver and ban-hammering the one percenters in one state from getting their liver get everyone in such a kerfuffle?

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3. There is still foie gras available that isn't force-fed.

There is a Spanish producer of foie gras, Pateria de Sousa, that produces foie without gavage by basically encouraging the fowl to stuff themselves. In the fall, during the birds' natural cycle of loading up for the flight south, Pateria de Sousa offers them large amounts of tasty food like acorns and olives, which causes them to overeat and produces enlarged livers, ready for harvest. This "ethical foie gras" is smaller than the force-fed varieties and costs more, but it's said to be just as flavorful as the gavage-based liver.

2. Geese and ducks are assh*les.

David Kinch, chef at Manresa in Los Gatos, California, who opposes the ban, isn't a fan of geese, and told the New York Times that "They are the nastiest animals on the planet" and "They are guard dogs in France."

I agree. Geese are jerks, and so are ducks. They eat whatever they want, including Legos, as I discovered growing up; they take dumps whenever and wherever they feel like it; and they are violent, unpredictable and anti-social. I've never had the opportunity to shove a feeding tube down a goose or duck's throat, but I've met quite a few of the foul fowls that I would gladly violate if I wasn't in fear of them biting off my digits in retaliation.

1. The people this ban will affect are affluent enough to get "real" foie gras elsewhere.

Rich people sure do complain when they are denied access to something. If they want foie gras so badly, what's stopping them from hopping a plane, flying to another state, going to a restaurant and ordering as much fatty liver as they want to jam in their gullets -- be it grilled, pate-d, sautéed or wiggly-raw?


Nothing at all is stopping them from doing this. And I bet your rumba panties that they sure will, so do the rest of us who eat foie gras once in a while -- or never -- really need to listen to the bougie sob-fest?

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reasons 3 and 2 are ridiculous.  Just because there are other, more important food production issues out there doesn't mean you ignore the low hanging fruit.  It's not as if the effort to ban fois gras in CA could have put a dent in the larger issues.  There isn't much of a fois gras lobby so why not? as far as there being other less cruel methods of fois gras production... Do you think there's a chance in hell the vast majority of cheap fois gras producers will switch to this method? or even feign compliance much less actually do this?  Almost nobody here would pay the exhorbitant prices for that and thus the demand would be filled as it always has been.  cheaply.

Da Man
Da Man

and they dropped the ban shortly there after you morn


Just so you know, Chicago banned foie gras three years ago and, judging by their chefs' awards, michelin stars, and revenue, they're doing just fine. #richwhinywhitepeopleproblems.


None of the stated reasons prove the stupidity of enacting such a ban .. They merely serve to establish that the *absence* of other bans like it is. What *about* the revenue stream of such waste-of-life eateries? Give up.


Thanks for your funny article. I actually think the ban is counterproductive because it's raising the profile of foie gras.  People are going crazy trying to scarf it down before it's gone, and neighboring states are going to ramp up production, it's going to become the foodie F-you symbol for rebels.  I wonder how this is going to play out.

Dawn Garcia
Dawn Garcia

Valid points to be sure but I will add that the revenue stream for restaurants who serve foie are vastly impacted. With a state economy plummeting and businesses and restaurants continually having to close their doors, this issue only amplifies problems. That said, the Sonoma Artisan Foie Farm should be banned because they've had seven years to change their practices to be humane and ethical. The organization C.H.E.F.S. comprised of so many chefs and alternatives to the ban like allowing CA to be the innovator of new foie practices is a great start. As for the other elephant in the room: Humane Society and PETA need to buck up and fight the real issues: beef and poultry. I for the record am not able to just go hop on a plane but since this is my profession, I look forward to eating occasional foie. If only lobbyists spent this much time on education and health care, we might actually get somewhere.


Reason #6.  The French Laundry's foie gras on brioche with salt is unquestionably one of the best dishes served in the United States. 

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