Animal Defenders of Westchester

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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

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Stop Foie Gras Production

The Foie Gras Fight

From THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE www.chicagotribune.com

Published April 2, 2005

Just what Chicago needed: a good old-fashioned food fight by celebrity chefs.

When Charlie Trotter and Rick Tramonto got into a war of words and menus over whether to serve or not serve foie gras, the enlarged fatty liver of a duck or goose, the squabble lit a match under the Chicago restaurant scene. Finally, a couple of chefs put down their recipes and wielded their opinions--and egos--like paring knives.

To review: Trotter said he stopped serving foie gras at his North Side restaurant because he wasn't happy with how ducks were fattened up in the final stages before slaughter, force-fed with grain. Tramonto of the restaurant Tru implied that Trotter's stance was hypocritical and noted, "Either you eat animals or you don't eat animals."

Trotter retorted that Tramonto was "not the smartest guy on the block," and joked, "Maybe we ought to have Rick's liver for a little treat. It's certainly fat enough."

Tramonto countered, "Charlie's in my prayers."

So is this much ado about fancy liver?

Well, there really is a deeper meaning to this story and it's all about the treatment of animals, especially animals destined for the dinner plate. In September, California banned, effective in 2012, the force-feeding of ducks and geese as well as the sale of foie gras from birds that have been force-fed. A similar bill has been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly, even though no one operates a foie gras processor in the state. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Kay Wojcik (R-Schaumburg), would shut the state from processors who might be looking to operate here.

The real nub of the foie gras debate was contained in Tribune reporter Mark Caro's story about the food fight. Caro described the fattening period, in which "a tube is inserted down the duck's hard esophagus, and a corn meal is released for a couple of seconds, two or three times a day. Foie gras producers note that ducks lack gag reflexes and that waterfowl are designed to digest large portions of food, such as whole fish."

The way food gets from field to table often makes for uncomfortable reading, especially in a modern society in which most people have little contact with farms and slaughterhouses. But inhumane treatment of animals should be unacceptable in America. And this does sound inhumane.

To many palates, foie gras may be delicious. But the way it is produced still turns the stomach.


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