Here I am in the midst of my annual December vacation, high amongst the mountains of Whistler, British Columbia. It is beautiful and relaxing, far removed from the stresses and strains of my regular life. My hope was that I could sneak away, hoping that no silliness would go on in the food world.
Enter Alan Gerson, a New York City Councilman who is planning on introducing yet another “anti Foie Gras” bill.
Like Michael Ruhlman, I feel as if this topic is tiresome, for a whole bevy of reasons. But this is how political movements operate – keep working the issue until you either convert or subvert the electorate.
While there are many ways to refute the claims of ‘cruelty’ to the ducks and geese who are being watched out for, there is a larger issue here. A group of individuals are trying to have governments tell me what I can and cannot eat, something which I (and others) have stated time and time again.
Let’s boil this down to the core issue – These types of bills aren’t about foie gras as much as they are about animal cruelty. The questions that arise from this are as follows:
- What standards are we going to use to define what constitutes animal cruelty when it comes to food production?
- Will these standards be applied to every food product that has animal ingredients, or will it apply to only a subset of these food products? If it’s only to a subset, how are we to differentiate one from another?
- Will these standards apply to every food producer? Or will allowances be made between larger food producers and artisinal production?
One of the many problems with the anti-foie gras advocates is that none of the above questions are being addressed. Instead we get a handful of people saying that “gavage is bad” based off of their response to videotapes made out of context and a carefully selected group of veterinarians.
I, for one, would like to see the above questions addressed, because they would require us to actually consider how we get our food as well as force us to recognize what being an omnivore entails.
Sadly, I believe that’s not going to happen.
UPDATE: As Tana noted in the comments, Councilman Gerson has agreed to table his talk of the foie gras ban…for now.