Saturday, October 13, 2007

Letter to the Editor of Time Magazine - Help!

Last week, Time magazine ran an article about the controversy over foie gras procudtion and consumption, highlighting Philadelphia's recent Freedom Foie for Five. Animal rights activists plan to flood the magizine with letters proclaiming their misinformed stance on the issue. We can give Time the right info! Please write a letter to the editor in support of foie gras. Send letters to letters@time.com .

The Time article follows below, as well as a sample letter to the editor. Here are some helpful facts about the animal welfare aspects of foie gras production to include in your letter (for more information, please read the studies linked to this site):
  • Ducks lack a gag reflex. Their esophagi have an insensitive lining, allowing them to swallow large fish and other prey.
  • In nature, ducks fatten their livers for energy, prior to migration, and the effect is reversible.
    Independent veterinarians and scientists have concluded that the hand-feeding of ducks for foie gras causes no harm to them.
  • American foie gras is raised on small-scale, sustainable farms using artisanal methods.
  • A misinformation camapaign orchestrated by extremists is confusing the public with falsehoods and misrepresentations about foie gras.


You might also want to include in your letter a reference to the faulty statistics cited by Nick Cooney, animal rights extremist and founder of Hugs for Puppies.


[Cooney claims that his group represents the public majority, citing a survey which says that 85% of Pennsylvanians are anti-foie gras.]


If you scroll down and read my previous post, you'll notice the problems with this poll. It is a Zogby poll, most likely paid for by Farm Sactuary, an extremist organization. The questions, written by those who paid for the survey, are leading and designed to distort the public's actual views.


Finally, you may also want to highlight the nearly terroristic tactics used by the activists in Philadephia and around the country, which include vandalism and death threats. They are referrenced in this paragraph from the article:


[But having credited themselves with a victory, the Hugs for Puppies group has moved onto other restaurants, picketing the businesses and homes of chefs like David Ansill who recently removed foie gras from his menu at his restaurant Ansill after protesters hounded his customers and staff and leafleted his neighborhood for months. “When I talked to him he hadn’t slept in 15 days,” says foie gras distributor Daguin. “The acts of the protesters are nearly terroristic,” she says. Said Ansill wearily: “It wasn’t worth it. I caved.”]


SAMPLE LETTER:


Dear Editors,


Thank you for your recent article on foie gras and the controversy surrounding it (Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2007).


Unfortunately, many Americans know little about foie gras and its production. They are easily swayed by animal rights activists like Nick Cooney and his Hugs for Puppies, who tout misinformation and outright lies. The poll Cooney cites is a Zogby poll, which appears to have been written and paid for by an animal rights extremist organization and asks leading questions in order to obtain desired answers. The question about outlawing foie gras in Pennsylvania is asked following a definition of foie gras designed to make it seem cruel and already out of favor with a majority. I am sadened that Time magizine writers and editors did not check this poll for bias before publishing such a comment.


Additionally, independent veternarians and scientists have concluded that the hand-feeding of ducks for foie gras causes no harm to them. Thank you for allowing Ariane Daugin to explain this.


Ultimately, this issue is about choice. Vegetarians can eat what they eat, omnivors should be able to do the same. As extremist organizations gain more and more power and publicity in this country, we are losing more and more of our rights to food. If foie gras goes, chicken may be next.


Thank you,


Lizzie Vonhurst


Cooking Up a Battle over Foie Gras

Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2007 By Lisa McLaughlin

At Philadelphia’s Vintage restaurant last week the special was two delicately pan-seared pieces of foie gras perched atop toasted brioche with a berry coulis, garnished with fresh raspberries and a side of rebellion.


The days of foie gras as a simple exercise in gastronomic luxury are over. Foie gras — French for the fatted liver of a duck or goose — has come under increasing fire in the U.S., where it is a $17 million business. Chicago has banned the sale of it and California law will make it illegal to sell or raise foie gras by 2012. The fiercest battleground right now is in Philadelphia, where City Councilman Jack Kelly has proposed a ban and animal rights group Hugs for Puppies has been protesting the homes and businesses of chefs who serve the delicacy. But a group of Philly restaurateurs are fighting back, under the banner Philadelphia Chefs for Choice, marking the first time anywhere that chefs have organized to protest the foie gras protesters. During the first week of October, nearly 20 restaurants served foie gras specials on their lunch and dinner menus for just $5. The chef group has stated: “In the city of Philadelphia, the birthplace of American liberty, we want to keep the right to serve foie gras.”


The debate is centered around the practice of gavage, in which corn is force-fed to farm-raised ducks through a funnel down their throats. Some argue that gavage is inhumane, while others counter that the physiology of a duck is not the same as a human. “It seems terrible if you don’t know that a duck’s esophagus is lined with a very thick cuticle, if you don’t realize that baby ducks are fed by their mother pushing her beak down the baby’s throat,” says Ariane Daguin, owner of D’Artagnan, the largest foie gras purveyor in the U.S. Recent studies by Dr. Daniel Gu men a leading expert on the physiological effects of gavage, have shown that ducks with young in the wild were under more stress than the ducks being fed through gavage. And both The American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates and the American Association of Avian Pathologists have concluded that foie is not a product of animal cruelty.

Animal rights activists remain unconvinced and have been increasingly organized in their efforts to have foie gras banned. Hugs For Puppies, which began as an informal vegetarian outreach and animal rescue group in Philadelphia in 2002, started approaching restaurants a few years ago and occasionally protesting, says founder Nick Cooney. “Last December [restaurateur] Stephen Starr stopped serving foie gras and it really motivated us to keep going. Now we are out protesting every week.”


Starr, who owns a dozen Philly hotspots, tells a different story. He emphasizes that the activists had little to do with his decision to remove foie gras from all of his Philadelphia restaurants. “If they said ‘Can we meet with you?’ I probably would have, but instead they use the bullhorn, these really creepy tactics. The bottom line is,” he says, emphasizing his own personal opinion, “that it’s probably not a good thing to do to the animals. But honestly to me it was a non-issue. It didn’t sell that well, I don’t like to eat it myself.”


But having credited themselves with a victory, the Hugs for Puppies group has moved onto other restaurants, picketing the businesses and homes of chefs like David Ansill who recently removed foie gras from his menu at his restaurant Ansill after protesters hounded his customers and staff and leafleted his neighborhood for months. “When I talked to him he hadn’t slept in 15 days,” says foie gras distributor Daguin. “The acts of the protesters are nearly terroristic,” she says. Said Ansill wearily: “It wasn’t worth it. I caved.”


Cooney claims that his group represents the public majority, citing a survey which says that 85% of Pennsylvanians are anti-foie gras. “It’s not just a matter of preference on a menu like chocolate or vanilla. It’s a matter of protecting animals.”


But as celebrity chef/author Anthony Bourdain has argued, how can any meat product be cruelty-free if you are killing an animal? To some chefs the anti-foie gras movement feels like the first step towards demands for completely meat-free menus. Chef Parind Vora, whose Austin, Tex., restaurant Jezebel has been subjected to twice weekly protests by a group called Central Texas Animal Defense, believes that animal rights activists are targeting foie gras because it’s a small industry with little resources to fight back. It’s also food often associated with the upper crust, allowing the class issues to color the debate.


But in Philadelphia last week, foie was the food of the people. At Caribou Cafe, the sliders came topped with caramelized onions and a piece of pan seared foie gras. At Zinc, the foie came poached with mango chutney and waffle chips. Diners wearing bold red “We Love Foie Gras” T-Shirts embarked on foie-cathalons. “I could care less about those snobby French chefs,” Councilman Kelly said in response to a local paper on Monday. “They can stick their $5 foie gras up their rears.” And, as the week ended, restaurateurs planned their next steps. For Michael and Terry McNally of the London Grill it’s about freedom of choice. To celebrate that freedom, they are planning an Oct. 22 dinner in honor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras co-founder Michael Ginor and his book /Foie Gras: A Passion/ with a $165 prix fixe 6-course dinner that includes foie gras in every course, from the matzo ball soup to a creme brulee dessert.

9 comments:

Amanda said...

Foie Gras creme brulee? Hmm. Yick.

I was going to say something naughty about ducks not having a gag reflex but I won't. It's a new fact for me, though. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

what kind of freak are you to make a whole blog just dedicated to the evil wasteful slaughter of animals? This a SHAMEFUL and DISCUSTING page of lies.

I hope all the foi grass you eat makes you fat, and that you die alone obese and afraid just like all those poor ducks your sending off to die.

Lorcan said...

Hi Liz:

I've noticed thy fois gras comments on our mutual friend Amanda's blog. Rather found of it myself... I agree, in the US folks are rather odd about food. They step over homeless neighbors with great ease, while suggesting we boycott Korea because they eat dogs. Several Quakers wanted to add vegetarianism to our advices (as close to rules as Quakers come... ) I reminded them that the benches in our Meetinghouse, as well as our Meetinghouse was built on Nantucket and Bedford Whale Oil, taken by ships of the Quaker owned fleet, Howland Brothers.

Yum

Lorcan
PS Not to mention some Americans (no doupt they seem not to be proud enough to sign their names...) who write nasty things to folks who eat meat - they should spend more time considering the tens of thousands their nation slaughters with bombs their tax money buys...

Anonymous said...

oh great, let's just round up all the baby whales and ducks and dogs and veal-calves and send them to iraq, then.

Absurd.

Liz said...

Thank you for your comments, Lorcan.

Many Americans seem to be a bit hypocritical about death. We will go to war, we will drag our feet on humanitarian aid, we will, as you said, step over the homeless, and STILL try to ban foie gras. Kindness to animals does not also equal kindness to humans.

In addition, as Americans, we are divorced from where our food, and many other products, come from. I grew up on a farm. I know about animals and death. I know that in order for me to live, another has to die. A lot of people I know just close their eyes to this and blindly buy the grocery store shrink wrapped hamburger meat which probably just grows on trees.

And since we, as a culture, do not really know where our food comes from, we are horrified when we find out - "Oh my! Those poor animals!" Foie gras is easy to pick on. There are only three small foie gras farms in the US - an easy target and an easy win for animal rights activists who'd have us all eating tofu and beans.

Thank you for reminding your fellow Quakers of your heritage. You may also tell them that even if they live as vegtarians, they will still be responsible for the deaths of animals. Have you ever seen a feild churned up for planting? The creatures who live there - rabbits, moles, worms, and countless others - die terrible deaths.

Nothing is easy. We have to live with this. The best way to do it is to be informed. That's what I am trying to do here.

Again, thanks for your discussion. I hope you'll be back.

Liver Lover said...

To Anonymous:
It's funny that you would call Liz a freak. Her blog is not dedicated
to slaughter, it's dedicated to information.

Do a Google search on "foie gras" and most of what you will find is
hysterical animal rights activist websites, complete with pleas for
you
to get involved. They have certainly dedicated a huge amount of time,
energy and money to convincing the public that foie gras is an
abomination. Now that may be a little freaky.

It seems to me that Liz is simply offering a place to counter the
dominant voice on a legal, mainstream agricultural product. Since it
appears you would rather insult people, and cast blame wildly (do you
really think this blogger is slaughtering ducks?!?), perhaps you should

be posting on the type of blog that encourages that kind of limited
thinking.

Try one of the many blogs that are leading an American public who
cannot think for themselves right down a path to politically correct,
legally-enforced veganism for all. They need your brand of
close-minded, poorly spelled, and utterly useless comment. The
discussion here seems to be thoughtful and rational.

Anonymous said...

liver lover your an abomination.

"Foie Gras" is just the most blatand and disgusting example of american greediness. If you all want to talk about war and casulties, thats cool but you need to remember mor animals die miserable deaths every year for our enjoyment than any amout of people ever died in any war or ever war put together.

And if you want to get philosophical with me then think about this:its the same attitude that lets us think everything and everyone was put on this earth for our use that makes us capable of torturing animals into "delicasies" and torturning humans into telling us the things that will get us mroe oil.

Anonymous said...

I freakin love foie! I would bath in the fatty goodness if I could. Someone should open a vegetarian restaurant and serve foie in place of tofu without telling anyone...I bet the crunchers would be lining up out the door for a bite of delicious "tofoie"....little would they know. (insert evil laugh here)

Anonymous said...

"They step over homeless neighbors with great ease, while suggesting we boycott Korea because they eat dogs."

Not all of us "step over homeless with great ease", the ones that do usually have similar attitudes towards stray animals.

"Several Quakers wanted to add vegetarianism to our advices (as close to rules as Quakers come... ) I reminded them that the benches in our Meetinghouse, as well as our Meetinghouse was built on Nantucket and Bedford Whale Oil"

Certainly something to be proud of. The pre-civil war southern economy was built on slave labor, which does not justify it. Every henious cruelty that's legal to inflict on animals is a felony (sometimes punishable by death) if done to a human. Every conceivable misfortune that may befall a human has a dozen non-profit groups and substantial government funds at the ready, while the animals suffer in silence, outside the realm of public concern. For example:

The number of animals killed for fur in the U.S. each year is approximately equal to the human population of Illinois.

The number of animals killed in experimentation in the U.S. each year is approximately equal to the human population of Texas.

The number of mammals and birds farmed and slaughtered in the U.S. each year is approximately equal to one and two-thirds the entire human population of Earth.

As if the suffering of God's creatures on a massive scale somehow benefits "the homeless". Meat and dairy consumption has been shown in nutritional study after study to contribute to every thing from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and osteoporosis. A report release on November 19, 2006 by the United Nations (FAO) called Live Stock's Long Shadow determined that raising animals for food generates about 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, ships and planes in the world combined. 67% of US grain in this country is used to feed livestock and 70% of Africa's grain is shipped to Europe to feed livestock. Farm animals consume one half of the earth's water supply. Furthermore, unlike the more obvious "homeless"; factory farms, fur ranches, etc., are strictly zoned so as not to bother "consumers" with the (unappetizing) sights and smells (and screams) of slaughter. That privilege is reserved for the slave labor underclass you care so much for (and who often risk life and limb for your steak dinner!) Assembly lines go extremely fast; so much so that animals are often not dead before they begin the butchering process. Workers cut themselves, slip on slick, blood soaked floors, etc. (Can't waste time in these places!) However, at least they are not "homeless"; that is until they get too injured to work. In this case, they are often let go without pay or medical attention.

As a quaker, you are surely aware of your religion's long history of activism championing the weak, defenseless and voiceless. I am surprised at your apparent pride in your cynicism and apathy. In the 1790's, there was a small and much ridiculed movement afoot in England to extend the concept of rights to women. At that time, the social hierarchy began with educated white landowning male humans and descended past women and non-Europeans down to the "brutes" or animals. The first really circulated published text on the matter was "A Vindication of the Rights of Women," by Mary Wollstonecraft (popularly dubbed "that monster in petticoats"). Hilarity abounded in response to her outrageous suggestions regarding American women (that they might enjoy rights under the law). One famous cartoon of the day depicted a woman standing in line at a voting booth behind a donkey. (har har!) The rhetoric of the anti-animal rights movement also mimics that of the anti-abolitionists. Tract after tract during that period refers to the "obvious" argument that white humans are more valuable than blacks due to "superior intelligence," "more highly developed social structures," and "more complex consciousness." Advocates of humane laws regarding slavery, or its abolition; were labeled the 18th and 19th century equivalent of "crackpot" and "psycho" (as virtually all new proponents of widening the circle of compassion and rights are). The most tired and ridiculous rhetoric of those who stand against the expansion on of our circle of compassion and rights is schoolyard logic. "If he cares more about blacks then we do, he must care less about whites! or "He's not just a slave-lover, he's a white-hater!" Typical reactions to the daring claim that non-European humans deserved minimal rights under English and American law were; ridicule, contempt and attempts to shame the humane advocate into rejoining the backwards thinking of the majority.

What is remarkable about the anti-animal rights movement is how small and exclusive a group it is. They quote each other, reference each others' "studies", etc. in order to prop up each other's weak, immoral arguments. I am fairy certain this "college student" blogger works for the National Animal Interest Alliance and is probably Patti Strand. All motives are suspiciously "political", complaints are "extremism" and activism is "terrorism". The ones carrying rifles, bows, arrows, whips, air guns, electric prods, knives, razor blades and steel leg traps and profiting from animal commerce; pretend to be appalled by animal extremism(!) Yep, sounds very familiar.

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men. St. Francis of Assisi

Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission to be of service to them whenever they require it. St. Francis of Assisi

I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat, for the wild animals I have provided grass and leafy plants. Genesis 1:29