Philippe Martin, president of the general council of Gers, a region in Southwest France known for its foie gras, is calling for a boycott of California wines in protest.
I cannot say that I’m aware of a huge French market for California wines, but this is obviously a matter of principle. French producers say the California ban is a mistake and damages the image of the foie gras industry.
Read the story (in French) here. Google will translate for you, but, trust me, you are going to be thrown off by the references to “professionals fatty liver.” Kind of makes you think twice, doesn’t it?
(Related note: On a recent trip to France I ended up being served foie gras, which I don’t care for, at just about every meal. Which caused me to complain loudly to friends post-trip. “Foie gras four days in a row! It’s too much!” Needless to say, I was rightfully and mercilessly mocked for my First World problem. But I digress.)
California banned production of foie gras under a law passed in 2004 that regulates how poultry can be fed in California. (It didn’t take effect until this month to give producers a chance to come up with a “humane” alternative to gavage, the process in which ducks or geese are fattened up by being force-fed through a tube inserted down their necks.)
On Monday a suit was filed in Los Angeles challenging the law as unconstitutional. See the San Francisco Chronicle story here.
The suit was filed against the state on behalf of Hot’s Restaurant Group, another group representing farmers and distributors, and Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a major producer. Lawyers say they’ll ask for a preliminary injunction halting imposition of the law.
Proponents of the ban say force-feeding, in which bird livers expand to 10 times or more normal size, is cruel. Opponents disagree, saying the process isn’t particularly tortuous and, to a point, mimics the birds’ natural habit of gorging themselves before migration. Specific to the new law, the suit alleges it doesn’t give a clear enough definition of what constitutes over-feeding and also interferes with free trade.