100 Calif. chefs oppose foie gras ban

May 6, 2012 at 9:14 PM
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SAN DIEGO, May 6 (UPI) -- About 100 California chefs are petitioning and protesting to head off a statewide ban on foie gras set to go into effect July 1, officials say.

Foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been force-fed. Animal rights groups have long decried the practice of "gavage" or force-feeding as inhumane.

In 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger enacted legislation giving producers until July 1, 2012, to halt production of the delicacy. The legislation is being backed by John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party.

Burton is among the many staunch opponents of foie gras, and the ban's most powerful supporter.

"I'd like to sit all 100 of them down and have duck and goose fat -- better yet, dry oatmeal -- shoved down their throats over and over again," Burton told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Victor Jiminez, executive chef at Cowboy Star restaurant, plans to attend a protest Wednesday aimed at stopping the ban.

"I am opposed to government telling me what to do and what I can serve," he told the San Diego newspaper U-T San Diego. "America has never dealt well with prohibitions. It's against our history."

Jiminez believes the ban will foster a black market for the delicacy.

Anthony Bourdain, author and host of the TV show "No Reservations," had decried a four-month ban on foie gras Chicago invoked in 2006, saying well-treated waterfowl living in humane conditions have a place on menus.

Chicago's ban was defeated by a number of chefs giving away free foie gras, not considered to be illegal under the ban, which outlawed the sale of the delicacy. The ban also inspired a number of odd dishes such as foie gras pizza and foie gras hot dogs, The New York Times reported, in an unusual and widespread show of civil disobedience that convinced the City Council to overturn the ban after only four months.

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