How Did Arnold Get Suckered Into This Fringe Cause?
In their step-by-step quest for an eventual total ban on meat products in America, vegetarian activists are pushing to outlaw a staple of high end restaurants: foie gras, better known as duck liver.
On the contention that farmers use cruel means to enlarge duck livers they've convinced state legislatures, from Illinois to Massachusetts, to consider banning the product entirely.
Even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger got suckered into the cause, signing legislation that takes it off menus in 2012, unless animal rights activists can be satisfied that production methods are humane.
Now, pressure is on Seattle restaurant owners, especially high-profile ones, to remove the delicacy from their facilities, leading to today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer story.
One farmer in the story pegs exactly what the movement is truly about:
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer- Kathy George- 4 April 2005)
The activists' attention is misplaced, he said, arguing that the pre-slaughter mortality rate in his industry is 3 percent to 4 percent, lower than in turkey or other poultry industries.
As for accounts of unnaturally fat ducks barely able to walk fleeing from those who force-feed them, Ginor said there is no evidence of pain in the foie gras process.
"If you've ever been to a slaughter room of any facility, it can look very bloody," he said. "There's a real disconnect between going to a steakhouse and really understanding where the beef came from."
Of course, the next step is to demand a beef ban, citing the same "inhumane" circumstances! Will Arnold get fooled a second time?
Holly Smith, chef and owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, said foie gras is one of the most popular items on her menu.
Years ago, she said, she toured the Sonoma Foie Gras farm and "saw that these were a very voracious breed of duck, and that they were not force-feeding them."
Since then, she said, she has switched to a small New York foie gras producer called Labelle that she believes also avoids force-feeding.
"I certainly don't want to be hurting a duck," she said.
"They're just fat, hopefully fat and happy. Who's to say, though?"
Her point is well taken, there's simply no proof that cruelty is even occurring. She's not ruling it out, but it hasn't been demonstrated by anyone without a political agenda.
In Boston and Seattle, vegetarian food police are just a few years behind what they've accomplished in Santa Cruz, California, where they successfully blocked an Outback Steakhouse on "moral" grounds. With the head office of one of the most obnoxious anti-meat groups in town, Santa Cruz proved to be an easy, early victory for this movement.
Don't underestimate for a moment the determination of these groups to block from your store, establishment and barbecue, all of your favorite foods.
Sometimes they'll work to change laws, other times resort to vandalism and trespassing. It's only a matter of time before they see complete victory if they aren't stopped.
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