Foie gras is in the news again, and this time it has nothing to do with Chicago politics or secret “duckeasies” where foodies can get their illicit pâté. Here at home, Austin (Texas) activists are leafleting the neighbors of a local chef, accusing him of “torturing animals.” And in the United Kingdom, masked activists physically attacked a Cambridge restaurant with paint stripper, glue, glass-etching fluid, and spray paint.
The head chef pulled foie gras from his menu yesterday, telling the Cambridge News:
I sat down with my manager and the chefs. We decided that for our own safety and the safety of our customers we would take it off the menu. The mood here is a bit morbid. We feel as if we have been pushed into this.
Writing in London’s Telegraph newspaper today, columnist Paul Levy takes issue with the premise that foie gras production is cruel to ducks:
[Duck livers] are produced by "force-feeding" the birds during their last few weeks, a process called "gavage" as most foie gras still comes from France.
This takes advantage of the natural tendency of these birds to eat themselves silly in preparation for their seasonal migration. I have witnessed the gavage myself, the ducks forming a surprisingly orderly queue as they wait for the turn to swallow the tube of the funnel containing a mill that grinds the corn.
As the St Francises of asininity forget (or have never bothered to find out): human beings aren’t birds … there is no evidence that the non-industrial practice is cruel or that the duck experiences pain during the process.
Levy also muses about why “animal-rights nutters” are targeting white-tablecloth delicacies, rather than food of the common man:
The answer is obvious: these particular food fascists are class-warriors. The clients of good restaurants are sitting ducks, whose refined tastes are those of, if not the upper classes, the moneyed ones – and they want to remove from us all the privilege to eat what we like.