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Chicago Tribune on Foie Gras

There is a terrific article about foie gras on the front page of the Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Chicago Tribune headed, "Liver and Let Live."

It talks about "Famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter" who "had a change of heart about foie gras and has quit serving it at his eponymous North Side restaurant."

We read "At the debate's center is the welfare of the duck.... Foie gras...is created by force-feeding the birds with grain, thus causing their livers--and the rest of them--to grow dramatically."

"Trotter said he became uncomfortable with serving the delicacy after visiting three foie gras farms (he refused to identify them) and concluding that the ducks were suffering as they were kept in small cages and fed grains through tubes inserted down their esophagi."

There is a great quote from Trotter: "I just said, `Enough is enough here. I can't really justify this.' What I have seen, it's just inappropriate. There are too many great things to eat out there that I don't believe that any animal would have to go through that for our benefit."

The article discusses the potential impact of his stance: "Such a strong public stance by an influential chef like Trotter, nationally known for his PBS series 'The Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter,' could cause further headaches for the relatively small foie gras industry..."

It also mentions the Californian ban on the production and sale of foie gras, and notes: "A similar bill has been proposed in New York, and last month in Illinois, state Sen. Kay Wojcik (R-Schaumburg) introduced the Force Fed Birds Act. Still in the reading stage, this bill initially prohibited the force-feeding of birds and the sale of any resultant product, though, to appease restaurateurs, it has been amended to allow foie gras' sale." That amendment, watering the bill down to one that bans production in a state where foie gras is currently not produced, might help some who were opposed to accepting the amended California bill (amended to take effect in 2012 but still including a ban on the sale of foie gras) realize what the California activists were up against and how extraordinarily much they achieved.

The article broaches wider issues of animal cruelty in food production. There is an interesting quote from Vogue magazine food writer Jeffrey Steingarten: "I think the way factory-raised pigs are raised is far, far worse. The question is, Do we take care of foie gras even if we believe it's only borderline inhumane as compared to the treatment of pigs?"

Rick Tramonto, a chef against the foie gras ban, says: "Look how much veal this country goes through with all the Italian restaurants and the scallopinis. Yes, there are certain farms that are going to treat those veal better than others, but still at the end of the day it's killing those babies, right?"

And the article closes on this heartening note, discussing all 'food animals' are raised: "Sarah Stegner, the former Ritz-Carlton Dining Room chef currently running the Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, that slippery slope is a reason to appreciate Trotter's stance.

"'It's a bigger issue than the foie gras,' she said, referring to the way food animals are raised. 'It's an issue the whole country needs to address and not just a little niche. People need to do what they can. Charlie Trotter is in a position where he's a leader in the food community, and he wants to be responsible, and those are things he sees as priorities, and good for him.'"

You can read the whole article on line at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0503290227mar29,1,6901705.story OR http://tinyurl.com/54a9r

There is a poll on that page, "Would you eat foie gras?" Please visit the page and vote No.

And please take the opportunity given to us by this front page story to speak out in the letters section about the treatment of ducks for foie gras and of all animals raised for food on factory farms. Great resources are Farm Sanctuary's websites: http://www.nofoiegras.com and http://www.FactoryFarming.com

The Chicago Tribune takes letters at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/letters/chi-lettertotheeditor.customform

 OR http://tinyurl.com/4lsug