Thursday, November 8, 2007

Anti-Foie Politics Don't Pay

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Kelly won his re-election bid in Philly. But his narrow victory should send a message: The public does not want to be bullied around their own dinner tables!

On Tuesday, two of foie gras' legislative enemies were up for re-election. Barring any recount changes, both legislators lost.

Michael Panter, a New Jersey Democrat, lost his bid for re-election as Assemblyman for the 12th District. Panter introduced legislation a year ago which would have banned the production, distribution, and sale of foie gras in New Jersey.

This would have hit the area, including New York City, quite hard - in the wallet and in the mouth. New Jersey is home to D'Artagnan, one of the nation's premier sellers of foie gras and other high-end foods. Panter's bill could have put the 120-employee, New Jersey-based D'Artagnan out of business. Such a move would have outraged chefs, food lovers, and consumer choice advocates across the tri-state area and beyond.

Jack Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican, lost his bid for re-election as a Philadelphia City Councilor. Kelly planned to introduce a bill to ban the sale of foie gras next year. This sparked a raging controversy including media wars, injunctions, and lots of screaming. At the time of this posting, this election is extremely close and while it appears Kelly has lost his seat, absentee ballots will be added in and official results could take as long as two weeks to be announced. (Cross your fingers.)

For now, they're gone.

Of course, I can't say for sure that the legislators' silly ideas on banning food became their downfalls, but I can speculate. I am proud of the people of New Jersey and Philadelphia for taking a stand against an activist minority and supporting the freedom of choice.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity...and Foie!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fire at Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Late in the evening of October 30, a tragic fire raged through a barn at Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

The barn housed 11,000 breeder ducks, all of which perished in the fire. Thankfully, no humans were hurt.

Both PETA and Farm Sanctuary have swooped like vultures, releasing statements full of misinformation and propaganda. One criticism is that there were too many ducks confined in too small a space. This is absolutely untrue. I'd like to print Michael Ginor's refutation of this claim (made originally here):

"As a co-owner and co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras I would like to thank Mr. Ruhlman for his well wishes and for placing his sympathy with the ducks, where they belong. We are very saddened by the fact that birds, that we so carefully and attentively care for, perished in this fire. These ducks were in a carefully maintained breeding barn and not a "storage facility" as has been somehow misreported. This was a relatively large barn, approximately 60,000 square feet in size. A "factory farming" type of operation would squeeze 40,000 ducks into such a space. "Humane" growing guidelines suggest 3 square feet per duck, allowing for about 20,000 ducks in such a coop. Hudson Valley utilized the space for 11,000 ducks allowing about twice the suggested space per bird. I am profoundly confused by the allegation of any inhumanity involved with this unfortunate event or the suggestion that these ducks were unkindly treated in any way."

So clearly, the ducks were living better than do animals in any other poultry rearing operation I know of.

My deepest sympathies go out to the farmers. Those who cared for these ducks will feel their loss most deeply.

Thankfully, it appears the business and the quality of the foie gras will not be affected, due to an alternative supplier of eggs.