When the state's foie gras ban goes into effect in July of 2012, California restaurants will have to pull the luxurious (yet allegedly cruel) item from their menus. Although producers claim it doesn't hurt the birds -- producers who make anywhere up to $15 million a year for the savory treat -- foie gras is made by force feeding ducks and geese to fatten their liver. When the ban goes into effect, the item will most likely turn into an underground treat for the artisan set. A few notable California chefs revealed to Bloomberg their thoughts on the controversy, with some wiling to defy the state ban.
- Gary Danko, who plans to obey the law, explained, “I sell probably 40 orders a night or more...When the protesters are here, double that.”
- "When the ban comes in, we’re going to serve it every day," said Laurent Quenioux, a chef at Starry Kitchen in Los Angeles, "They can send me the foie gras police."
- Thomas Keller, chef at the French Laundry (three Michelin stars) in Yountville, and Per Se (another three Michelin stars) in New York City, said in an email: “Foie gras is a product that we have enjoyed preparing for our guests through the years and has been a regularly featured item on our menu...But we will certainly comply with the new foie gras ban law once it goes into effect."
- “The feedback from my guests and diners is it’s something that they really wanted,” James Beard Award-winner Traci Des Jardins revealed. “Foie gras is an attractive luxury food that people, when they are going to a fine-dining restaurant, want the opportunity to eat."
- “I think we need to get together and fight it,” demanded Roland Passot, owner and chef at Michelin-rated La Folie. “We eat meat. We raise those ducks to be eaten. We don’t raise them to become pets.”
As far as local production goes, business will be as usual since it's "a product that is in full compliance with...federal regulators.” With regard to the fattening method used, it's a difficult one. Wikipedia notes:
The feed is administered using a funnel fitted with a long tube (20-30 cm long), which forces the feed into the animal's esophagus; if an auger is used, the feeding takes about 45 to 60 seconds. Modern systems usually use a tube fed by a pneumatic pump; with such a system the operation time per duck takes about 2 to 3 seconds. During feeding, efforts are made to avoid damaging the bird's esophagus, which could cause injury or death, although researchers have found evidence of inflammation of the walls of the proventriculus after the first session of force-feeding. There is also indication of inflammation of the esophagus in the later stages of fattening.
For what it's worth, alternate productions of making foie gras have been used in recent years. This involves "timing the slaughter to coincide with the winter migration, when livers are naturally fattened."