Wake Up Call

The California Foie Gras Ban Was Much Sound But Will Likely Result in Little Fury

Editor's note: A steely-eyed reader has pointed out that there was in fact one high-profile arrest during the Chicago foie gras ban. The case of Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's who defied the law and served a foie gras hot dog named after the alderman who put forward the ban.

It would appear that California lovers of foie gras can breathe a sigh of relief as Bloomberg is reporting that nobody official seems interested in enforcing the ban on fatty goose liver. The ban, which has been delayed for eight years, is set to go into effect this Sunday, July 1.

Representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, the San Francisco Police Department, and the San Francisco Department of Animal Control indicated that no officers would be beating down doors looking for contraband foie gras. Their unwillingness to pursue the issue probably shouldn't be surprising given California's massive debt and looming budget cuts.

The reason for this is straightforward; this isn't the restaurant industry's first rodeo when it comes to foie gras bans. Chicago banned foie gras in 2006, and the results were so uninspiring that the city quietly repealed the law a couple of years later. Both the Chicago law and the California law banned the sale of foie gras within their jurisdictions. To get around this restriction, restaurants started giving foie gras away for "free," sometimes as a side for an overpriced drink. As far as we can tell, foie gras continued to be served in Chicago during the ban, and no fines were handed down for the sale of foie gras.

Californian chefs have vowed to use similar techniques to skirt the law on technicalities. Foie gras producers however, aren't so lucky. Since the law specifically targets the forced lavage feeding used by virtually all foie gras producers, they have little choice but to shutdown their operations. However, this doesn't mean their out of business for good. Many are simply relocating to the border areas like Nevada and will have their goods couriered in. In fact, many a reporting a boom in demand as California chefs stock their larders in preparation for prohibition.

We've spoken about the ethics of foie gras before and Valley chefs have also weighed in on the issue as well. It would appear that the debate over foie gras will rage on but if the implementation of bans in California and Chicago are any indication, it'll continue to be a legislative teapot tempest.

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