Yes, as of July 1 2012 a ban on production and sale of “Foie Gras” will take effect. The law, written by democrat John Burton was passed in 2004, supported by then governor Schwartzenegger, under the pretense of cruelty to animals. Just another pathetic attempt by government to, little by little, take more and more control of our daily lives.
I wish to explain why I am so upset and angered by the ban: as some of you may know, I was born in rural Southwest France, in a remote and not easily accessible corner of the Lot department, on a small farm which produce and livestock provided our family all the meals plus income via the sale of our farm products on the market place every other Saturday in Figeac, a small town 10 kilometers away.
Besides a vegetable garden by the river, alfalfa and corn fields, we raised cows and goats for milking and cheese making (we sold 90% of these), then pigs, pigeons, chickens, a couple of geese and ducks both for consuming and selling.
So, back to our ducks, which were our biggest source of income: we fed 60 ducks every year, 20 roaming freely, fed on corn and other grain and 40 that were kept for force feeding (gavage), ALL these birds eventually ended up on a butcher block at the hand of my dad by the end of the year and which do you think had the better lives?
From mid October to mid February, typically, my grandmother and my dad at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day would force feed our 40 ducks (hard work!) to fattened both the bird and its liver, a practice that goes back to antiquity (the Egyptians depicted the practice on several bas-relief, as did the Romans).
The minute the door of the pen opened there would be a battle to be first duck in line!
Their excitement was amazing, the birds couldn’t wait to get fed!
The process for each animal is grabbing the duck, inserting a funnel in its throat (the bird can ingest its food like say, a whole fish via its special esophagus) and in a 2 to 3 minutes procedure push down corn (grass sometimes) in an amount that increases every month until the fattening process is completed.
The ducks are kept in the dark and the reason they loved to be fed in that way was that it kept them in a state of inebriation thru the whole process, just happy, happy fellows til the day of their demise…
Much better than those other 20 ducks that were out all day in the cold or rain, one of them would be butchered twice a month for our Sunday’s roast duckling…
All the fattened birds would be butchered at once, the livers sold to market for big money and the rest of the duck would be “confit”, kept in the cellar and eaten once a week every Thursdays, voila!
The whole process -a far cry from the depictions of the sick and tortured animals presented to the legislation, which by the way, never bothered to visit any of the farms where these birds are force fed- was just an age old custom that provide both income and nourishment for families thru French history.
Now, as of July 1, the farms in California will be forced to close, more employees will go on the unemployment line and these small businesses will shutter.
A sad story indeed… but for now we will celebrate that amazing product and both Mille Fleurs and Mister A’s will offer special “foie gras” menus featuring the different preparations of this incredible delicacy…
Come join us, savor, enjoy and then mourn with us the passing of “foie gras” in California!