Foie Gras - The ethics of a delicacy
The City Council of Chicago is really on a roll, said Bob Secter in the Chicago Tribune. After passing a “sweeping ban” on public smoking last December—not to mention declaring the city a “nuclear-free zone” back in 1986—the council’s latest triumph of “lifestyle policing” is a ban on foie gras. For those millions of philistines who have never had the pleasure, foie gras is the highly sought-after French delicacy made from the livers of geese or ducks. To produce properly fatty, creamy foie gras, farmers force-feed grain to the fowl through a tube until their livers have swollen to 10 times their normal size. After months of wrangling between “goose huggers and gastronomes,” the City Council has agreed with animal-rights advocates that the process is unacceptably cruel. Geese, and Chicagoans, should rejoice in the fact that this is now “the nation’s only combined nuclear—and foie gras—free zone.”
Al Capone may be dead, said Jonathan Hoenig in Smartmoney.com, but “it’s apparent that Chicago is once again becoming a city of mob rule.” The ban on foie gras may be good news for poultry, but to the rest of us it is a classic, and sobering, “example of how the majority is able to trample on the rights of the minority.” I’m not going to argue that having grain pumped down one’s throat against one’s will fits anyone’s vision of a rich and full life, but “since when did a goose’s right to regulate its own diet trump a human being’s right to do the same?” If someone objects to eating foie gras, he should simply not order foie gras—not go passing laws that deprive others of making that choice for themselves.
And why single out foie gras in the first place? asked Mark Caro in Chicagotribune.com. Poultry destined to become foie gras usually live longer and more comfortable lives than the chickens that wind up Kentucky fried or McNuggetted. So why ban the former and not the latter? And what about banning veal, while we’re at it? And requiring anesthetic for the slaughter of cows and pigs? Try as we might, we’re not going to get around the fact that eating meat always involves some level of cruelty to animals. By banning foie gras, this most carnivorous of cities has begun playing a “tricky game of moral relativism” that has but one logical outcome—mandatory veganism.
In putting my two cents in I will have to disagree with Mark Caro on his stance against the banning of Foie Gras. While it may be true that the average chicken that comes to you nicely packed in your standard KFC box may have also suffered at the hands of humanity, the fact of the matter is that you will never be able to ban chicken farming. Foie Gras on the other hand is a delicacy that we humans can do without. Dining should not be an excuse for animal cruely and you only need to see actual footage on the force feeding process to see how appalling it is. Call me old fashioned but when I look at a geese or duck I picture images of Fairy Tales like The Ugly Duckling frollicking around the lake....not crammed in a cage with a tube forced down his throat over feeding him.
Article from 'The Week' magazine 5/5/2006.