In September 2004, thanks to the extraordinary work of many wonderful activists (I think particularly of the tireless efforts of Lauren Ornelas) California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that banned "force feed[ing of] a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size" -- the method by which foie gras is produced.
As only the states of New York and California produced foie gras in the US, and as the bill's ban was on both the production and sale of it in California -- then the fifth largest economy in the world -- the bill was set to strike a mortal blow to the foie gras industry.
The bill was/is to take effect from the year 2012. In a signing message Schwarzenegger noted that the bill
"provides 7 1/2 years for agricultural husbandry practices to evolve and perfect a humane way for a duck to consume grain." Activists knew that the industry could not find a humane method of making animals overeat to the point that their livers were ready to burst so the escape clause was unlikely to be a real danger.
Senator John Burton, who is now the Chairman of the California Democratic Party, wrote and pushed the bill. In an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times he details the current attempts of the foie gras industry to fight the law's enactment.
As foie gras has been less in the news recently then it was back in 2004 activists new to Dawnwatch might not be that familiar with the delicacy. People in the general public are even less likely to know details. But in his Los Angeles Times piece Burton does a good job of explaining the treat:
"Foie gras, French for 'fatty liver,' is produced from the diseased and grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose that has been force-fed grain. Multiple times each day for several weeks before slaughter, a pipe is shoved down the birds' throats and they're pumped full of mash, causing their livers to swell to more than 10 times normal size. The resulting fatty liver is served in fewer than 1% of California's restaurants. Most people would find it hard to stomach eating any part of a diseased animal, but in the case of foie gras, it's the diseased organ itself on which consumers dine."
You'll find Burton's full piece, a terrific read, on line at
You can comment below it -- please do. And most importantly, please send a letter to the editor in support of the piece and the ban. The Los Angeles Times takes letters at email@example.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published.
I send thanks to Paul Shapiro for making sure we saw this piece.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)
Please go to http://tinyurl.com/254ulkx to check out Karen Dawn's book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which in 2008 was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!"
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Date: Tue Apr 10 16:26:49 2012