New York City Council outlaws foie gras; considers banning frog legs and chicken wings for “continuing culinary cruelty”; controversial vote faces largest court challenge since city’s failed attempt to ban 32-ounce sodas in 2012.
October 31, 2019
By Andrew Squibley and Arthur Bushwhacker, JFK Jr.’s Flight Instructors
“Democracy Dies in …Daughter of Darkness” — Tom Jones
NEW YORK (Rueters) – New York City, culinary crossroads of the world, may lose its cherished spot at the top of America’s food chain after banning the sale of foie gras and announcing it’s investigating doing the same for frog legs and chicken wings.
Foie gras, French for “fatty liver,” is a delicacy produced from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese that have been force-fed corn. The New York City Council voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to ban its sale in the city’s five boroughs effective in 2022.
Jerry, ex-AFLAC spokesduck who fell on hard times after
his TV gig, prepares for “Appetizer Night – 2014” at Le
Bernardin restaurant in New York City. It was his last
public appearance. Restaurant patrons report that evening the
foie gras was exceptional. “Jerry would have been proud,” one diner
told local news outlets. (Photo by Rueters)
Animal rights groups contend the force-feeding process is painful and gruesome. Farmers who raise birds for foie gras defend their practices as humane.
“We grab the fucking bird by the neck, shove a pipe down its throat, then stuff it with corn kernels,” said a spokesman for the leading foie gras industry group, GAG’D (Great Americans for Geese and Ducks). “It’s sort of like water boarding, only with corn,” he added. “What could be more humane than that?”
The city council’s 42-6 vote will “ban the sale or provision of certain force-fed poultry products” in three years, imposing a fine between $500 and $2,000 for each violation.
“The council is banning a really cruel and inhumane practice,” said Jeremy Unger, spokesman for Council member Carlina Rivera of Manhattan, who introduced the bill.
But Marcus Henley, manager of Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, NY, defended his business. “I can tell you we take proper care of the birds.” He said his farm, which employs 400 people, makes foie gras “in conformity with humane animal management and in compliance with the laws of the state of New York.”
Neither animal rights groups nor the New York City Council appear to be buying GAG’D’s argument, however. “We know this is going to the courts before the ban ever takes effect, but nevertheless, we believe it’s good public policy,” spokesman Unger told Rueters.
“New York’s ban on large soda and other sugary drinks was ahead of its time, but it’s now time to save the ducks — and maybe the frogs and chickens, too,” he added.
“There’s growing sentiment on the council that the practice of amputating little frog legs and slicing off chicken wings — even though we know chickens cannot fly — is truly barbaric.
“God didn’t give chickens their wings just so we could eat them. And how are frogs supposed to hop without their legs? It’s unnatural. Don’t be surprised to see municipal government action to protect both species in the next year or so,” Unger told Rueters.
Public sentiment in the nation’s largest city for banning another French delicacy, frog legs, and the ever-popular chicken wings, seems well below other proposals, such as decriminalization of small marijuana sales as well as “happy endings” at rub-n-tug joints, according to a Rueters/Ipsos poll.
Poll director Dan Mathis said he spotted a trend in the results toward saving frogs and chickens among respondents who identified as “woke.”
“I think it will take another year or two,” Mathis told Rueters, “but I can see New York leading the way in saving the frogs and chickens.”
Restaurant owners, however, already are asking just how much of a threat the consumption of foie gras really is, with an estimated one percent of New York eateries currently offering the delicacy.
Frog legs are served in about the same number of restaurants, city health inspectors have reported, with chicken wings topping the list of popular but possibly soon-to-be outlawed “starters,” served in more than 75 percent of New York restaurants.
New York isn’t alone in its banning of foie gras, even if it’s a bit behind California which banned the luxury dish in 2012. The ban remains in effect after the U.S. Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court, in January declined to hear an appeal from GAG’D members. California currently has no plans to ban frog legs or chicken wings, however, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
The president of New York’s union of French chefs, Jacques Le Canard, owner of the trendy La Grenouille restaurant on the Upper West Side, declared, “Merde! First we have to deal with no smoking, then no large sodas, now this! What’s next, banning absinthe?”
Absinthe was banned from U.S. restaurants, bars and liquor stores in 2007 due to its potentially fatal ingredients.