The city council is considering a bill banning the sale of foie gras on the grounds that it's cruel to physically pump fowl full of feed before leading them to slaughter.
Lower Manhattan council member Carlina Rivera told the NY Post that New York has "tolerated" foie gras production for "far too long." The dish is a fancy liver paste that comes either from a duck or a goose and carries the mealy mouthfeel of something past its prime, an especially disconcerting texture for a meat product if you ask me. Still, salivating foodies have willfully overlooked the "egregious" practice of shoving tubes down animals' throats to engorge their organs with flavor, a production process more concisely known as gavage.
However, relatively few New Yorkers, Rivera pointed out, consume foie gras on a regular basis, and banning it should not disrupt most people's daily diets. "Less than 1 percent of all New York City restaurants serve it," she told the Post. "This is truly a luxury item."
Rivera's bill would make selling foie gras a misdemeanor crime, imposing fines up to $1,000, even a year of jail time, on violators. The council has taken up this issue before, Tony Avella calling on Albany in 2008 to ban the force-feeding of ducks and geese. More than 10 years later, Rivera believes the "timing is right" for an NYC foie gras ban, because the United States Supreme Court just rejected a challenge to California's foie gras moratorium. Her colleague, council member Justin Brannan of Brooklyn, seems to agree.
"Don't tell me you're a fan of the Central Park Mandarin duck but you think foie gras is OK," he told the Post. "Force-feeding a bird for the sole purpose of making it sick to create some bizarre delicacy is gruesome and inhumane. This may have been acceptable in 2500 BC but I think we know better now."
Gross fact, humans have engaged in gavage since the ancient Egyptians began cramming a surplus of snacks down the throats of not just geese and ducks, but also cranes and cows and hyenas, intent on harvesting their fatty panacea. Now, people mostly do this for their own culinary pleasure, but don't necessarily like to talk about or even admit it. The Post contacted 12 local restaurants with foie gras on their menus, only two of which responded and agreed to comment—if only anonymously. And putting together a list of New York's best foie gras dishes in 2012, Grub Street reported that a number of restaurants, even a photographer, declined to participate. Which makes sense, as protests and rage tend to materialize outside the doors of known foie gras merchants. Feast upon the controversy while you still can, you monsters.