Farewell, Foie Gras

On July 1st, 2012, California became the only state in the United States to ban the consumption of foie gras.  Foie gras, a French delicacy consisting of fatty duck or goose liver, is an extremely common dish used by high-end chefs and has fans across the country.

Seared Foie Gras (Alexander's Steakhouse SV, Cupertino)

Although Chicago temporarily had a ban from 2006 to 2008, their ban was repealed after the City Council voted to overwhelmingly overturn it following comments made by their then Mayor Daley.  California's ban will be the only one in the United States and was actually passed in 2004, with 8 years for local producers to comply with the ban.

The controversy over foie gras largely is due to the production methods.  Ducks and geese are force-fed a rich diet such that their livers enlarge beyond normal size.  These fatty livers are then collected.

Animal rights activists have felt that force-feeding birds is an inhumane practice whereas foie gras producers and many chefs consider current methods to reflect a humane treatment of birds that naturally want to consume excess amounts of food prior to cycles such as migration.

Foie Gras Appetizer (Chaya Brasserie, San Francisco)

Whatever the view regarding the production of foie gras, it's clear that the delicacy will be missed by many high profile California chefs, including Michael Chiarello, Thomas Keller, and Tyler Florence, as well as diners.

In the lead up to the July 1st, 2012 date, numerous restaurants such as La Toque in Napa, Alexander's Steakhouse in San Francisco, and Chaya Brasserie have held foie gras events to raise money and awareness over the issue.  Creativity in using the dish has also blossomed as it's been featured in ways never seen before.  As a food fan, it's been a fun run up to the date and we'll see what happens in the future.

Foie Gras Sushi (Restaurant Mitsunobu, Menlo Park)

Until then...Farewell, Foie Gras!


Foodie Stuntman said…
It's unfortunate this had to occur, but like you note in Chicago, I think consumer demand will force lawmakers to repeal the ban while taking into consideration animal rights activists concerns.
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