Please forward this to all animal advocates in the Chicago area.
Today's Chicago Tribune includes an article, headed, "Lovers of liver may taste victory after all" about a move to repeal the foie gras ban. And the Chicago Sun Times includes a featured letter from Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Bauston, in favor of the ban. I will paste both below. You can respond to the Tribune at http://tinyurl.com/4lsug and to the Sun Times at http://www.suntimes.com/geninfo/feedback.html
Please also, immediately, send brief faxes to Aldermen Bernard Stone (50th) and Burton Natarus (42nd) who originally voted in favor of the measure and are now heading up the repeal effort. Ask them to withdraw their proposal.
Stone: Fax -- 312-744-2328
Natarus: Fax -- 312-7441728
And please also send a note to your own Alderman making it clear that you are a constituent and that you support his/her vote in favor of the ban on foie gras. (The vote was unanimous.) If you dial 311, the city help line, you will be able to get your Alderman's contact information.
A brief heartfelt note to your legislator is by far the most effective -- handwritten is wonderful, making it clear you haven't just printed somebody else's letter. But Bauston's Sun Times letter at the bottom of this alert might give you an idea of the kind of point you can make in your note to your legislator.
Here are the articles:
September 12, 2006
Lovers of liver may taste victory after all
2 aldermen seek to end foie gras ban
By Gary Washburn and Mark Caro
Tribune staff reporters
As Mayor Richard Daley vetoed a controversial ordinance on Monday, two aldermen said they are seeking to repeal another: Chicago's ban on foie gras.
Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) and Burton Natarus (42nd) originally voted in favor of the measure when it was approved by the City Council in April. But both since have had second thoughts.
Stone contended that Chicago has become a national laughingstock since outlawing the delicacy, which is made from the livers of geese and ducks.
He acknowledged that inserting long tubes down the bird's neck and force-feeding it to produce foie gras is torture to the animal. And "in principle [the ordinance] is probably correct," he said.
But "anybody who has traveled anywhere in this country knows that people are just laughing their heads off at us," Stone said.
Natarus, who said he isn't worried about ridicule, favors repeal as "a matter of logic. It is a matter of reasonableness."
The council "can't do every single thing in terms of regulating our lives," he said. "People should be able to exercise choices. If they feel the creation of this liver dish is an irresponsible thing, they shouldn't eat it."
And, "quite frankly," Natarus added, "we do an awful lot of things to animals and to fish. I think the fly fishermen who catch fish for sport and take the hook out and put the fish back are just as irresponsible as is this foie gras situation."
The aldermen's disclosure of their repeal proposal came on the same day that Daley vetoed the hotly contested "big-box" minimum-wage ordinance.
Daley, who enjoys foie gras, is no fan of the ban measure, either. He has called the council's prohibition the silliest law to come down the legislative pike at City Hall.
"Hallelujah!" declared Chris Robling, an industry spokesman, after hearing of the repeal attempt. "This is wonderful.
"My fingers were crossed," said Robling, who speaks for Artisan Farmers Alliance, which represents North America's foie gras producers and some distributors. "That's great news."
Copperblue executive chef and owner Michael Tsonton, who last week became the second restaurateur cited by the city for serving foie gras after the ban went into effect, also cheered the move by Natarus and Stone.
"The foie gras thing was beyond silly," Tsonton said. "It was irresponsible."
But Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary, a farm-animal protection organization, contended that "animal cruelty should not be a choice."
"We have many laws that regulate our behavior," he said. "Beating children is not allowed. Eating cats and dogs is not allowed, and eating foie gras should not be allowed."
Chicago a laughingstock?
"Chicago has set a humane example, and it should be proud," Bauston said. "There are millions of people across the U.S. who are looking to Chicago as a shining star."
Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who sponsored the foie gras measure, said Monday that it "is simply an ordinance that tried to stop the practice of animal torture, pure and simple.
"My reaction is the City Council had a vote," Moore said. "It was 48-1 in favor. Time to move on."
The Stone-Natarus proposal will get a hearing in the council's Health Committee. If it wins a majority of votes there, it goes to the full council. Repeal would require a simple majority of votes at a council meeting.
"Some of my friends, chefs outside Illinois, have named Chicago the `Nanny City'--nanny, like the person who takes care of your children," said Allen Sternweiler, executive chef at Allen's--The New American Cafe, 217 W. Huron St. "I've gotten a few letters, with people saying, How would you like a tube stuck down your throat?
"My throat is not like a duck's throat. If you have some tragedy like an oil spill or a fire around a wetland, they would be using an exact same feeding tube to feed those injured ducks."
Colleen McShane, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, applauded the Stone-Natarus measure.
"Given the full facts of the issue--for instance, the fiscal impact, the image damage--I think that the majority of the aldermen would probably consider repealing this," she said. "This foie gras [ban] turned Chicago, which is a great food city, into a mockery."
But repeal proponents can expect a fight.
"We are going to be monitoring the situation closely and vigorously oppose efforts to undo this humane ordinance," Bauston said.
(END OF CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARTICLE)
Tuesday, September 12
Chefs just wrong on foie gras ban
There are, it has been observed, four stages to all social reform: First the critics ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win. In Chicago, we are seeing this scenario played out in full over the issue of cruelty to animals in the making of foie gras.
Chicago's City Council, led by Ald. Joe Moore, voted to end the sale of foie gras last April after careful deliberation and after hearing evidence presented on both sides of the issue. It was a sound, thoughtful and compassionate decision that put Chicago in good company with at least 12 countries, as well as the state of California, that have taken a stand.
But a few Chicago chefs are still griping and trying to undo this humane ordinance. They have derided lawmakers for not fighting for more "meaningful" social causes, as if preventing animal cruelty somehow prevents us from addressing other problems. Discussing other issues is an obvious attempt to draw attention away from the topic at hand, which is animal cruelty.
Of course, now that the ordinance has been passed and the Council has long ago moved on to other business, the chefs and connoisseurs are the ones who now seek to distract us all with their petty concerns. Here are people whose greatest passions in life are pastries and pate, and they're going to lecture the rest of us on the big and ''meaningful'' things in life. Please, someone tell the chefs to hold the sanctimony.
As they know perfectly well, the production and sale of foie gras involves grotesque and gratuitous animal abuse at its worst. Sorry if that fact interferes with their preferred fare, but it's a fact all the same, and -- like any other issue of cruelty to animals -- a serious issue of public policy.
To produce foie gras, ducks are force-fed as a pipe is shoved down their throats to pump in enormous quantities of food -- one-third of their body weight each day. This causes the birds' livers to expand up to 10 times their normal size, making it difficult for the birds to walk or even breathe normally. Even by the account of most farmers, this type of animal abuse is outside the bounds of decent and respectable animal husbandry.
In no other agricultural industry, except for the equally abhorrent treatment of veal calves, is it permissible for the animals to be made deathly ill and then slaughtered for the sake of an obscure, high-priced "delicacy."
The foie gras industry's claim that prohibiting the sale of this appetizer in Chicago will cost "more than $18 million" is absurd, and easily refuted. Only a few restaurants in Chicago sell foie gras, and one of its largest purveyors, Didier Durand, told the City Council that he only sells 30 servings of foie gras a week, worth about $450. Foie gras promoters have made many such spurious claims, such as that eating foie gras helps lower the risk of heart disease.
"Fatty liver," we're assured, is actually good for the heart. Doubtless we'll hear next that strangling and torturing the birds is good exercise for the farmhands.
Laws codify societal values, and we as a society oppose animal cruelty. The Chicago City Council acted in a sensible and appropriate manner, and it is to be commended for setting a humane example. The law has spoken. And now, without further whining from touchy gourmands, it is time for this good law to be observed and enforced.
Gene Bauston, president,
Watkins Glen, N.Y.
(END OF SUN TIMES LETTER)
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Date: Tue Sep 12 15:36:16 2006