Since today is National Caviar Day this seems as good a time as any to update you on what’s been happening since California’s foie gras ban took effect two weeks ago. So far, it’s a tale of loopholes, a lawsuit and _ damn, I cannot find a word beginning with “l” that means boycott, so I will have to break this alliterative string _ boycott.
The law, passed some years ago, bans the forcefeeding that makes ducks and geese, usually ducks, grow the unnaturally large and fatty livers used to produce the ultra-rich pâté. There was a lag time built into enforcement of the bill to see if producers could come up with a fattening method deemed humane, but that didn’t happen.
In the U.S., a group that includes restaurant owners, farmers and major producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras, has filed suit in Los Angeles federal court challenging the law as vague, saying it doesn’t adequately describe what “over-feeding” is. The suit also claims the ban interferes with free trade.
There’s been some indications the California Legislature may take another look at the issue, which could lead to the ban being repealed. This wouldn’t be the first such takeback. A foie gras ban passed by the Chicago City Council in 2006 was repealed two years later.
In France, Philippe Martin, president of the general council of Gers, a region in Southwest France known for its foie gras, has called for a boycott of California wines in protest. This is largely symbolic, but still interesting.
Meanwhile, most restaurants have been going along with the ban, but not all. A few have been sending out tidbits of free foie gras on the grounds that they’re not actually selling it. Some are offering to prepare foie gras that customers bring in. And the Presidio Social Club is ignoring the ban altogether, saying it’s immune from the state law due to being on federal land (the old Presidio Army Base).
I am following developments with a purely academic interest having never liked foie gras — too bland.
But if they ever try to ban liverwurst …