Written by Alisa Mullins
With California's foie gras ban having taken effect July 1, it's time for the rest of the country to do some
soul-searching, starting with New York, the only state in the union with
operating foie gras farms. Here are the top five reasons for the rest of the
country to follow California's lead in banning this dreadful "delicacy":
Birds raised for foie gras are force-fed multiple pounds of grain and fat every day via a pneumatic tube
that is rammed down their throats—a process that former California Sen. John
Burton colorfully describes as "doing the equivalent of
waterboarding." Burton, who spearheaded California's ban, has said of
chefs opposing the ban: "I'd like to sit … them down and have duck and
goose fat—better yet, dry oatmeal—shoved down their throats over and over and
Force-feeding causes birds'
livers to swell to as much as 10 times their normal size, resulting in a
painful disease known as hepatic steatosis (which makes foie gras a diseased
organ and therefore illegal to sell in the U.S., according to a lawsuit filed
last month by several animal protection groups). The birds often suffer from
internal hemorrhaging, fungal and bacterial infections, and hepatic
encephalopathy, a brain disease caused when their livers fail.
Contrary to the claims of
foie gras peddlers, ducks do have a
gag reflex, and, in fact, often vomit after being force-fed. An employee at
California's now-defunct foie gras farm admitted that "[s]ome [ducks] die
from heart failure as a result of the feeding, or from choking when they
regurgitate." An undercover investigator at a Canadian foie gras farm saw a duck vomiting blood after the force-feeding pipe apparently punctured his
esophagus or stomach.
video shot on French farms, which supply much of the foie gras sold worldwide, shows ducks crammed individually into shoebox-like cages that are barely
larger than the birds' bodies. Their heads and necks protrude through a small
opening for force-feeding. The ducks are confined in this way—unable even to
stretch a wing or take a single step in any direction—for 24 hours a day. Many don't survive the ordeal: An average
of 20 percent of ducks on foie gras farms die before slaughter. That's 10 to 20
times the average death rate on a regular duck farm.
Force-feeding birds has been
denounced worldwide by experts in the field of poultry welfare. The scientific
consensus is so strong that foie gras production has been banned in more than a
dozen countries, including the U.K., Israel, Germany, Norway, Poland, Sweden,
and Switzerland, and it will be outlawed throughout
the European Union by 2020. Prince Charles refuses to allow foie gras on Royal
menus, and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck refuses to serve it.
we wait for the rest of the country to follow California's progressive lead,
you can help ducks right now by urging the gourmet grocery chain Dean and DeLuca to
stop selling foie gras.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.