Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fancy Feast of Engorged Liver Anyone?

A baby duck in its
natural eating environment

In case you have missed it, California is finally attempting to enforce a law that was passed 8 years ago banning the sale of Foie Gras.  Foie Gras is made from the liver of a duck that has been force fed so that its liver becomes engorged.  Restauranteurs, diners and foie gras farmers are outraged about the law.  First, because of the restriction on their livelihood and/or lifestyle choices.  Second, because of some of the gray areas in the law, both being legitimate questions.  This article from the Huffington Post does a pretty decent job of highlighting some of the different angles on the issue.  (and of course please enjoy reading the comments from readers)

But I want more discussion about the issues like, what constitutes animal suffering?  Why do many people feel so offended by the idea that ducks are force fed but they feel no qualms at eating eggs from "cage free" chickens when that really means they are just kept in one large room with their beaks cut off so they don't peck each other to death?  Why do people feel so entitled to follow their whims and tongues regardless of any collateral damage?  Why do rich people who can afford to eat foie gras feel like they can find ways to get around the law?  Finally a law that is aimed at rich people instead of the poor!

On the other hand, at least some issue of animal cruelty has made it to the front pages, right?  Maybe it will encourage people to think more deeply and critically about the "nature" of the food situation (probably not).  Or maybe the argument shouldn't be about how foie gras is just like other conventional animal farming practices so it's ok but rather about force feeding ducks and claiming its something they're built for and they already do to themselves so that makes it ok.  Does it?  When people (like some of the Huff readership as seen in the comments) evade the subject by pointing their fingers at a million other issues like how fast food should be illegal or whatever it's a copout, it's lazy, stupid and insulting.  Environmental changes have to start somewhere and claiming that you can enjoy your foie gras while you recycle and drive a Prius is just plain false.    

My friends, look at the front pages of the NewYorkTimes (July 20) or the Business section of the Chronicle (July 20) all highlighting the worst drought in years.  I believe that deeming these disasters as natural or inevitable is false.  There are things we can do about it, like allowing trees to live.  Trees create moisture and oxygen and their root systems maintain soil health for pretty much ever.  When we cut them down in order to plant miles and miles of one species of corn we are making ourselves horribly susceptible to a host of problems.  Being slaves to our whims (ie. overstimulated pleasure centers in the brain) or cultural sense of entitlement to do as we please and do it in a small vacuum is an act of hubris that will probably not work out in our favor.  I just want to do the right thing and every single day I explore what that means.

Please forgive this somewhat aggressive rant :-)

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