Foie Gras & the Ethics of Force-Feeding: The Politics of Food

Foie Gras & the Ethics of Force-Feeding: The Politics of Food

We’re here to po,
protest foie gras. And we stand in solidarity with activists
all over the world. And we’re here
to speak up for the animals because
violence is violence. And it is always- .
>>These people threatened my family. They used acid
on my windows. All of them
are completely destroyed.>>Animal Liberation
Front trashed a Sonoma restaurant owned
by renowned chef, Laurent Manrie. They shot video of
Manrique’s wife and child through the window
of their home, leaving the tape and
a warning.>>A small note said,
you know, ‘We’re watching you. You know. stop, or
you will be stopped.>>Violence was used. There was an attempt
to coerce them, and their way of thinking,
and, and the way they lived
their lives. And that is terror.>>In 2004, the state of
California passed a law banning the sale and
production of foie gras. That law was called S.B. 1520 and it went
into effect in 2012. On January 7, 2015 that
ban was overturned, and now chefs can
sell foie gras, at their restaurants, that’s produced
outside of California. Munchies has been
documenting this controversy over
the last eight months. We spoke to chefs,
consumers, animal rights activists
and politicians to see what was happening
in California.>>So why is foie gras so
interesting? Because reasonable
people disagree.>>If you would close
your big, ignorant mouth long enough to
hear the answer I.>>Because you’re
a vegan and you have a vegan agenda.>>Shame, shame on you.>>[NOISE] [NOISE].>>Government regulation
of the food we eat is nothing new, but one of
the most controversial regulations is the ban of
fois gras in California. Foie gras is the fattened
liver of a duck or a goose. And this is something
that can only happen if the duck or
the goose is force fed. This process is done
until the liver grows from being about this big
to being about this big. This practice dates back
to Ancient Egypt and is a cultural
tradition in. France. Animal rights
activists see this practice as torture,
while chefs and producers insist that
it is standard animal husbandry rooted in
centuries-old tradition. There are some people
who believe that you can produce foie gras
without force feeding. But this hasn’t
really panned out. So for all intents and
purposes. Foie gras involves
forced feeding. More than a dozen
countries have banned foie gras
production due to its reliance on
forced feeding. In the U.S., California
was the first and only state to
outlaw the sale and production of foie gras,
but die-hard fans found loopholes to get
their hands on it. Under the ban, it was
illegal to sell foie gras in California, but
consumers were permitted to purchase foie gras
from out of state. [MUSIC]. So it’s not just chefs. Foodies are so passionate
about this issue of foie gras, that they
actually do things like start speakeasies where
they buy foie gras, sell tickets to semi-legal events where
foie gras is [INAUDIBLE]. Available, so I’m here to find out
what that’s all about. I’m gonna meet
with Tracy Lee from the Food Website,
Dishcrawl. Tell me about
how this works, the foie gras speakeasy.>>Yeah, so we love
to throw cute little underground supper clubs,
and it’s just about gathering a bunch of
friends together. And I’m really excited
we get to do foie gras, especially since
it’s illegal now.>>Is the ban. Just make it more
enticing for people, or is it, is it kind of good
for speakeasy business, to have something
that’s illegal, that you can provide
this way, or not?>>From a consumer
perspective, if you do it for
the public, and you’re a corporation,
it’s sort of a no no. A lot of my chef
friends have, ,. Really been, I mean,
just getting sued. You know? Okay, we have to
shut this down. And it’s, it’s becoming
a federal thing. A lot of people would,
you know, salad plate, and then you’d get some
foie gras to go with it.>>Sure.
>>Or you’d just get foie gras anyways. And you don’t see that so
much anymore.>>And now is
the possession illegal or just the selling
that’s illegal?>>It’s just the selling.>>So it’s not like,
you know,. It’s not. I guess pot’s legal
here to possess to huh? [MUSIC]. Describe why is it so
delicious to you.>>It’s buttery. It’s fatty. When it’s pan-seared, it just has a really nice
texture and layer to it. I mean, it’s just so
decadent. You know. And I love that it,
you know, I love drinking it
with some Muscat or different things
like that, adding the sweet
elements.>>Yeah, it’s fair.>>Perfect. [NOISE].
>>I’ll step back now. She’s got
the hang of this.>>Look at that.
Oh, my God. I want it. Woo.
Do you see that?>>Yeah.
>>All right. Let’s eat, guys. Let’s eat it.>>[LAUGH].>>what,
what would it take to stop you from
eating foie gras? Could anything
stop you from, from wanting to search
out the foie gras?>>Not really.
I mean, that’s like asking if
I wanna eat sugar. Yes. [LAUGH].
>>What they don’t realize is if you
want to get something, there is always gonna be
a way for you to get it.>>Who knows?>>Foie gras ban in California clearly
has not shut down all the foie gras
consumption in here. Has it added to the
allure of the product? Probably. Has it made some people
who wouldn’t necessarily care about it or search
it out, search it out? Probably. [SOUND]. [MUSIC].>>I got more Foie
if anybody wants it. [MUSIC].>>I’m here at
the Farmer’s Market in San Francisco to talk to
Chef Richie Nicono on his feelings on
the foie gras ban. He has taken on
himself the burden of going against the ban. So even though
it’s illegal, he’s gonna continue
to serve it. Richie gets around the
ban by offering foie gras by donation instead
of selling it. If he were to get caught, it would be
a $1,000 fine. And so, I just kinda
wanna see why he thought it was
important enough. So, tell me a little bit
about your setup here.>>So,
we’re a noodle stand at the farmer’s market here
at the Ferry Plaza. We’ve been around for
four years,. Market driven ramen,
utilizing whole animals. Seasonal produce. Organic vegetables. I’m just trying to take, like a craft approach
to making ramen.>>So how does Foie Gras
fit into ramen.>>I mean, for us, it’s just an ingredient
we love working with. For me as a young cook,
it was a privilege to get to use that
in the kitchen. I mean,
it is the most rich, luxurious thing you can
put on, on anything. There’s nothing
else like it.>>What kind of heat
do you take for doing. Munchies.
>>A lot. Mostly online. Mostly on Twitter. I mean, I’ve gotten death
threats from people. One guy said he was
gonna” skin me alive” because we’re,
because were doing this. So…
>>So, I mean do you take any of
that seriously? Do you worry about it?>>No,
we usually favorite it or re-tweet it. You know.
So… The fact that you’re
serving it after the band, does that make your
customers want it more? Absolutely. The first time
that we served it, after the band, we sold
out in about ten minutes. So, people know
we’re gonna have it, they ask all the time
if we’re gonna have it. And if we do, there’s a line before
we even start. You guys eat foie gras?>>I do.>>Yeah.>>Do you want it
in your ramen?>>Sure.
>>$0.>>[NOISE] It’s
the foie gras alarm.>>It’s the foie alarm.
When the ban came in describe
kind of your feelings.>>It was mostly
frustration, and if anything it only made
me want to serve it more.>>So you really feel
that it’s worthwhile to go against the ban?>>I think it’s
worthwhile, I think it’s a fight
that’s worth fighting. Because, I feel like you
start with foie gras and sort of what’s next? What do we ban next? What gets taken
away next? And, for me as a chef, I don’t wanna be
told what I can and cannot cook with. I’m responsible, I make
those choices myself. To make sure
I’m giving our guests the best
product available. [MUSIC].>>So, San Francisco is not only a gastronomic
center of California. It also happens to
be the district for former Senator John
Burton, who is the person who brought the foie
gras bill to the Senate. And I wanna know how
does that happen. How does government
intervention even start? What’s the kernel?>>My name is
Guillermo Gonzalez. And I am a, a producer. The only producer of
foie gras in California. I have been in the
business of foie gras for 20 years.>>Sonoma Foie Gras
was the only farm that produced foie gras
here in the state of California, and was the only farm put out
of business by S.B. 1520. Like they’re gone. Like Guillermo Gonzalez’
business, [SOUND], over. We’re talking about
a guy that came to this country to escape a civil
war in El Salvador to only have his family’s
lives threatened here in the United States. And I really wanted
to talk to him, because I thought he could really put together
some of the pieces of the puzzle that I still
don’t feel that I have. I’ve tried repeatedly
to get in touch with Guillermo Gonzalez. He really just
doesn’t want to participate in this
documentary at all. And after several
attempts, I finally got, you know, this message. By now and after my
absence of follow up, and communication it
is apparent that I missed the step that you
are inviting me to take, and participate in your
Fole Gras documentary. I regret, I have to
decline for good. But look forward to
seeing your coverage of the story through
a balanced perspective. Gratefully, Guillermo
Gonzalez, Sonoma Foie Gras. Clearly whatever happened
wasn’t pleasant. So if Mister Gonzalez
won’t talk to me, I guess I’ll
just have to. Talk to all the other
players that he dealt with during the debate
leading up to the ban. [MUSIC].>>So although some people are against
the foie gras ban, some people
are strongly for it. Like Brian Peace, the
animal rights activist. Whose earlier videos
sparked a lot of the debate on foie gras
here in California.>>How did foie gras even
show up in your mind, like this is what
I should do?>>Foie gras was
something that, you know, you didn’t hear
a whole lot about, and when I did hear about
it, I thought well that, that’s something
that’s so extreme that,
that should, that can’t be allowed
to be going on. That just has to be. Banned and
I heard that before SB 1520 was proposed
there had for years been legislation
proposed to ban the farm here in California from
force feeding ducks. But it never got
anywhere and they just said well, you
know, the ducks are fine, they’re not being
mistreated. But nobody ever really
knew what was going on in these farms so I thought well maybe
if we can get in. To this farm and actually
document what’s going on. Maybe that will
expose it and, and create some momentum.>>You’re watching
ABC 7 News at 6:30.>>An animal rights
complaint over an expensive
gourmet delicacy. ABC 7 News I Team has
an exclusive look at how that stuff is made.>>These three activists
shot more pictures of ducks clinging to life.>>This one too weak
to hold it’s head up. They took four of the worst ducks to
a veterinarian. Gonzales say’s, he will try to have
the activists prosecuted.>>We believe that
the farm owner should be prosecuted for
animal cruelty.>>I need to stress,
highlight and underline that the images that
have been distributed. For your information, from the supporters of
the bill, Our images that were taken in the process
of committing a felony, in the process of
committing a crime, and that it is
a staged video.>>A lot of people on
either side of this issue frankly have never been
to an actual foie gras farm to see, so you have
on a number of occasions, why don’t you talk to me
about that experience.>>The first thing when
you walk in it’s just. The, the sheer
size of it. I mean the,
these are massive factory farms with thousands
of ducks in each shed. And they’re in
these elevated pens where there’s maybe ten
or 12 ducks per pen. And they’re on these
slats, so their feces and urine just,
just falls below them. So it’s just
some kinda this. This filthy environment,
and they’re all universally
panting for breath from the, the pressure on their
organs and just being, having been force-fed for this, this
length of time. The conditions were
just so horrendous for these ducks that were
being force-fed by, with machines pipes
being jammed down their throats and
being pumped full of. Massive quantities of food to deliberately
make them sick. To make their livers 12
times their normal size. So they’re in a pretty
sick state, and that’s just not the way that
most people agree animals should be treated even if
they’re raised for food.>>The activists found
barrels of ducks that died before their livers
could be harvested, others still
barely alive. They also watch
ducks too weak or overweight to defend
themselves against the rats at
Sonoma Foie Gras. Rats were eating these
two ducks alive. You can see evidence
of similar battles on several other ducks.>>So talk to me about rat eats
bloody duck butt.>>These ducks had
bloody rear ends and they were kind of
limping around and, and then using their
wings to sorta balance. And then this rat
would come out and just kinda nibble at them
and, and go back in and so, I didn’t think
that was going to be. The most compelling
footage. I thought the force
feeding was gonna be the most compelling
footage, but I guess that really caught a lot of
people’s attention, because maybe people
think its’ disgusting to have a rat in a farm and
eat it, and it’s kind of something out of
a horror movie, I guess. I mean, to us it was kinda like this whole
thing is a horror movie.>>When Brian showed me
the video footage that he had gotten from
Sonoma Foie Gras, you feel uncomfortable. Like you, no one wants to
see an image of the duck in bad shape. But are these ducks in
bad shape because of one unclean farm? Let’s say, we walked
on a cattle farm. Would we have
the same reaction?>>Most people
have no clue about how animals
are raised for food. It’s not always pretty to
see how our food is fed. So now the question is, is force feeding
a problem?>>[MUSIC]. I’m here to meet
Doctor Elliot Katz the founder of In Defense
of Animals to learn about the production of foie
gras from a medical and biological stand point. Why don’t you tell me
a little bit about the technical aspects of
foie gras production and kinda, what your main concerns are from
a medical issue?>>If you equated it to a person who weighed
about a 150 pounds. Forcing into a person’s
mouth approximately 30 to 40 pounds of corn mash or
food. This excessive food
causes the liver to gradually expand. As the liver expands,
what you’ve got is a situation where
there, the liver basically starts to
degenerate and it doesn’t do the function that
it’s supposed to do so, of getting rid of
the toxins and poisons. Eventually what happens
is the birds go into seizures,
diarrhea starts, vomiting starts and they
also lose their balance. It’s sort of,
like somebody who has been an alcoholic for
years. They finally kill the
birds, and they kill them after they’ve gone
through probably 3 weeks of total suffering. But to get as much money
as possible from as many birds as you can,
of that enlarged liver. You wanna take it as far,
until you see that they’re
about ready to die. It’s cruelty to bring
any being to that level, where their,
their body is just ,. Falling apart may be
internally poison. It reminds me of
Nazi Germany where they put the prisons in
concentration camps and starved them to death. Well, this is almost
the opposite.>>So, how did you
get involved with foie gras and the raising
of animals for meat?>>Well,
when Bryan Pease, the founder of APRL, Animal Protection
Rescue League, I had done,
done undercover video. On the foie gras,
and I saw the video. And at that point,
his organization was very small, and he was being
threatened with a lawsuit for going in
undercover or, or inappropriately to,
to video. I called him up and said I will,
in defense of animals. Will help cover your
legal fees if you get sued, and I saw this situation further
as a veterinarian. And I said, to me there’s
reason to file an animal abuse lawsuit. Let’s put the guy
out of business, or let’s do whatever
we have to do.>>So, essentially our
lawsuit was seeking to stop the force feeding,
and argued that it was a violation of California’s
animal cruelty law. And, as a result of that, the farm here in
California actually went along with
the legislation, so it crafted a legislative
compromise, where they got the
benefit of a seven and a half year phase out
period, during which time, they could continue
their business practice. They got immunity
from our lawsuit, and then, at the end of
that, the production, as well as the sale of
fogra that’s made by force feeding is now- .
Illegal to sell in California, not
just to produce.>>You had a lot of help from Burton
who’s very high up.>>That ended up being the ace in
the sleeve right there. I don’t know if you’ve
met, a, John Burton or talked to him at all but,
when he say this he just, you know, he was at the
time the most powerful, other than the governor, prolly the most powerful
politician in California, who’s the president
of the senate, and he just pushed
it through. But even with
his backing it still wouldn’t have
gotten out of committee. [MUSIC].
Had we not had that legislative compromise
that caused the farm to actually go
along with it.>>You weren’t
a lawyer when you started this,
as you are now.>>I was probably more of an anarchist who happened
to be in law school. [LAUGH].
I didn’t think laws could actually work and
then this was one of the things that made
me realize, wow, you actually can
make change, and you can go through the
democratic process, and you can use litigation,
and legislation, and
it actually works. The process can
actually work, so.>>To hear Brian
talk about it, he was just a kid who
found out there was something wrong going
on in his mind, the production
of foie gras. And he traced down
where it was and he’s like,
well I’m gonna, I’m just gonna bring
this to the light of day. Don’t you know it, it got picked up by
a local news station. Then Dr. Katz that we
met with picked up on, provided some monetary
and legal support, and then it just kept
spooling from there. It went to
the Speaker Pro Tem of the California Senate,
John Burton, who introduced a bill,
and law and behold you end up with a foie-gras
ban not that much later.>>[APPLAUSE].>>Not all veterinarians
agree on the medical and biological facts of
foie-gras production.>>I was asked to walk through the farm
at Sonoma Foie-gras. Last week, my first visit
was with within twenty four hours of being
ask to be there. So I believe that no special accommodations
could be made. I found no
substantiation for the claims that the
proponents are making as to what debilitation
the force feeding causes.>>Veterinarians we’ve
spoken to already, not a bird specialist.>>Okay.>>His opinion was
that it’s inherently. Torture is to force
feed a bird, a duck, or a goose specifically. Why don’t you tell me as
an actual bird expert- .
>>Okay.>>What do you think about that?
>>First of all, birds in general don’t have a gag
reflex, and we humans do. So, for us, we
anthropomorphize when we see something going down
a bird’s throat, but it is not. Anything that’s
distressful to a bird. The opening to
the airways is up at the base of their tongue. There’s way more space
there where the tube goes by it and it’s not blocking
their airway and I do know that force feeding
is done in sick birds. Sick ducks and
it’s not anything that’s harmful or we wouldn’t
do it in a sick duck.>>Right
>>The other thing is, they have, as waterfowl. Because they’re
migratory or at least let’s say, their
ancestors were migratory. They have the ability to
put in fat on their body to allow them to go long
distances with a lot of excretion, and have
the energy for that, the, the reservoir for that. And one of the places
where they store fat is in
their liver. And so the foie gras
people are taking advantage of that
physiological feature. And giving them a high
energy food that will deposit a lot of fat
into their liver.>>Were you able to observe one that it
was at the end of the- .
>>Yes.>>And what was your,
tell me your opinion.>>Okay, so, the, the birds that they told
me that tomorrow we’re taking those to
the processing plant, they were not acting
distressful as far as breathing or
anything like that. They were bright and
alert. It’s just, they didn’t
do much standing and walking around
the pen and so my point of
view is that, that’s probably not
that big of a deal for a bird to feel to heavy
to stand for a day.>>So, if it was like
a week’s long thing.>>Yeah, then I would
consider that not okay.>>I was told that. The droppings
of these ducks. It’s fundamentally
diarrhea and that, that’s another sign that
their welfare is bad. What do you
think of that?>>Their, their droppings
are poorly formed. I wouldn’t call
it diarrhea. Because they don’t get
a lot of roughage. If they were having
a diarrhea problem, they would be getting. Sores or
they would getting like, dirty feathers
back there. And there was
no evidence of clinical problems there.>>You know,
that’s another thing they point to, is they say that when the
ducks go into the barn, to the gavage, they are
bright and nice looking. And then by the end,
their feathers are dirty, they say, they say that
they do have sores. That they. That their feathers
around their neck are all messed up.>>I didn’t see
that there.>>Strictly speaking
about force feeding, what, what are your
feelings on its impact on animal welfare
in ducks and in geese.>>Okay, I’ve only seen
it done at Sonoma Foie Gras and I would say,
that what I witnessed there was humane and
that they got a bum rap.>>So
you actually testified in the hearings for
the foie gras ban.>>Yes.
>>For SB 1520. What was your feeling
about those proceedings?>>The biggest
criticism I had was going after foie
gras in California, was one producer and
one ranch, and, and just painting them with
the same tar brush as operations in
other states. When of
the senators there, they hadn’t been to any
of those operations, how could they say his
treatment was inhumane if they never saw what
was going on there? And so, I felt like it was
a prejudicial decision. [MUSIC]. It’s important for
me to come here to Sacramento because this
is actually the hub. This is where this
bill was passed. I’m meeting with
Liz Figueroa, because I need to talk
to someone who was actually involved in
the legislature at the time that they
were making this bill.>>Item number four,
which is SB 1520, which we will
now be hearing. Senator Burton,
you may begin.>>Yeah. Thank you, Madame. Chairs, member of
the committee. We are talking about
force feeding and the humaneness
of the Act.>>Hi.
>>Hi. How are you?>>Hey.
I’m Dave.>>Hi, Dave.
Nice to meet you.>>Why do you think Speaker Burton was so
interested. In this particular
subject?>>Well there are two
subject matters. People get
very passionate about in Sacramento. One is, how we take
care of our animals. And the other is what
we’re putting into our stomachs, into
our bodies.>>And chefs really see
it as someone trying to legislate what they. Can cook and what their
customers can eat.>>I’m a progressive
Californian. I still believe that people have the choice to
eat whatever they want. And we should provide
that opportunity. What California does,
others follow.>>How’d the bill initially come to
the committee? It’s a business. So business and
professions, that type of bill would
come to my committee. And as chair of that
committee I had, had several conversations
with Guillermo Gonzales who owns Sunomo
foie gras. And one of the reasons
is that my family’s, is from El Salvador. I was very excited when I knew this was
a businessman who had done very well
in the Sonoma area. He had hired a number
of people, and I understood that he
came during the wars. [MUSIC].
Of El Salvador to the United States and
successful businessman, so I gravitated to
him because I knew the humanitarian work he
had done in El Salvador, so people are very
proud of him and I wanted to meet him. I told him,
that I would not vote for the piece of legislation
and that he would need to work on the various
committee members. So I think he was here
at the capitol for some time. Trying to educate
legislators as exactly what is the
process to making fogra.>>Wow. Did you go to the farm?>>No.
I did not.>>Why do you think he
was not successful?>>He could only do so
much. It was one business. It’s not like you had
five businesses in California, or ten. He had some- A restaurant
organizations but all in all he was
fighting it by himself.>>How often does
the speaker pro tem introduce
a bill like that? Is that unusual?>>You know, politics is, becomes personal
sometimes. It became personal for
him because so many of his colleagues or
people that he cared about cared
about this issue. Either way. Mr Burton is
right across from us in the black shirt.>>Where? I dunno. Looks like New York. All right.
>>Right across from you.>>Okay.
>>In the black shirt. With the white hair.>>Sorry,
if I’m interrupting you a second time instead
of interrupting you, while you’re talking. My name’s Dave. We’re doing a documentary
on the foie gras ban. I’d really
appreciate it if you would say a couple
of things to me. On the bill that
you brought.>>John Burton was
the most powerful man in the senate, and also
the sponsor of SB 1520, clearly the key player
in the Senate in the passing of
the foie gras ban.>>Senator,
thank you so much for taking the time
to speak with us.>>Fine.
>>So SB 1520 was kind of your baby, is what
I’m told, that you were very personally
passionate about it. what, what made you so passionate about
the bill?>>Well, [INAUDIBLE] I
just don’t think they ought to torture animals
to give people some food that probably isn’t
really that healthy for them, for openers.>>How much did you
know about the actual production of foie gras
before the bill came in?>>Well,
I knew about it years ago because somebody
sent me pictures of. Cramming food down the
gooses throat in France. I hear, although I don’t
know it for a fact, but there’s a farm
in North Dakota, that makes foie gras,
and they have the, the ducks,
the geese free ranging. And, it works.>>But they still use
force-feeding but they’re gentle and they do it in
very small quantities, would something like
that be acceptable? I don’t know if
they do for-, It as my understanding
that they eat the stuff off the ground
like they do, there’s a place over
in Spain where they gobble up the feed
on the ground.>>Did you visit Mr. Gonzalez’s farm
during this, or?>>I had no reason to.>>Here’s my actual,
my real question. Do you think it’s
a slippery slope, like first banning
foie gras to eventually banning meat
production altogether? I mean,
do you think it’s, do you think we’re
eventually on that slide?>>That’s a dumb
question.>>Well, it’s not
really because we have Proposition Two now.>>Well,
Proposition Two what, says that you can’t. Fucking create a bunch
of animals together. You can’t cut off,
little calves’ legs so that there’d be.>>Sure.
All good stuff.>>Veal.
So, am I just seriously. Kristy? [SOUND] Wait for
a minute.>>It’s all good stuff.>>Well, I don’t think. My answer’s I
don’t think so.>>So you don’t think
it’s a slippery slope.>>I just said I
don’t think so.>>All right.
>>That’s probably why I didn’t want to do this shit in
the first place, okay? Cuz it seems silly. But thank you,
I’m out of here.>>Wait,
why does it seem silly?>>I don’t know
silly is in the eye of the beholder. Okay?
I gave you my opinion.>>I appreciate it.>>That’s my opinion.>>All right.
>>I gotta see my girlfriend.>>All right, thank you. After going to Sacramento
to meet with Senator Liz Figueroa and former
Speaker John Burton, I still have
nagging questions. I don’t understand
why the Senate was so eager to push the foie
gras ban through. So I’ve come to Stockton,
California to meet with former Senator
Mike Machado, who was not only there during
the foie gras fight, but is also a farmer to
get his perspective. [MUSIC]. I had the opportunity
to visit Mr. Gonzales operation. [COUGH] And I did so,
during a feeding period. And some of the
descriptions that have been given in testimony
were not born out. In practice.>>All right, Senator. Thanks for
meeting with me. And on the way
to your orchard, let’s talk about kind
of the foie gras ban. Senator Figueroa’s
position was everyone was on board, and that
the Senators ended up pretty much in agreement. But I don’t know, it
just didn’t strike me as being 100 percent of
the story which is why I wanted to come
talk to you.>>It’s 100 percent
from some perspective. [LAUGH] What was
interesting about that is, the farm that
raised the, the duck for foie gras was in
my district and I think I was the only
one to go out and visit the farm, and
to see the practices that were being used to
raise the ducks. That I think was
disappointment from the rest of my
other colleagues. Not taking that kind
of an interest. ‘Cuz I think any
time that you take legislation, that’s effecting
the livelihood or- .
Of- Of people, or
effects an industry you really have to
research it so it’s not a knee-jerk reaction to
the whims of somebody. Who says, well maybe
I don’t like it, I wanna get rid of it.>>What was your
impression of the practices
at the farm? What did you
feel when you went there to visit them?>>I thought it
was very humane. What they were doing
didn’t look painful or out of the ordinary. It is a, was a practice
that one would look at and say, well, it’s not much different than
a feedlot feeding cattle. The place was very clean,
there was. Good sanitation
practices, that I would think having
gone through from my per, perspective, good
agricultural practices for certification for my food products
that I serve. This type of operation would probably
meet the same standards.>>Right, and it didn’t
seem like something that they were faking or
putting on like a, just a show or
whitewashing it for your presentation, at least
not that you could tell?>>No, no, and I, and
I knew, I knew the farm manager our kids went to
preschool together so I mean, I knew the
practices, and it wasn’t, you know,
it was just saying, hey, I’m coming by and
I showed up it wasn’t something that
had a lot of lead time. And I saw what they
did on a normal day. If you had eggs for breakfast they came
from a layer operation. If you had bacon or
sausage this morning it came from a confined
feeding a swine. If you had a chicken
sandwich for lunch it came from
a broiler operation. Again a confined
feeding operation where the animals
are fed beyond. What they would eat and
be a normal forage. If you ate beef. We’re gonna have
beef tonight. That usually comes from a confined animal
feeding operation. Where they’re
gonna be fed well beyond what they
would get in a grassland.>>Were you surprised
that the bill passed?>>Oh, no.>>Looking to
cast a character. You know, you have the pro tem that’s
championing the bill. And his job is to
marshal votes. And so if you’re a Democrat,
there’s a lot of things that come your way
if you’re cooperative. And if you’re not, other
things can come your way. That’s politics. You see that in any
legislative body. You see it in
Washington today.>>How hard was
Senator Burton hitting on this one?>>For whatever reason he
developed this passion, he was very adamant
about trying to be successful
with his bill. And, in this case,
I think he was wrong because he put
a man out of business and he did away with
an industry. Had another legislature
picked the legislation, it probably wouldn’t
have passed. The bigger problem. Is not so much the
particulars of the bill. The bigger problem is, that type of a ban
without considering all the full ramifications
from it can lead us down a slippery slope, to where we will
see more actions. Taking place
without looking at the ramifications. And pretty soon
somebody wakes up and says, well,
what happened? Why isn’t that
available anymore?>>’Cuz today it’s
something you don’t care about. Tomorrow it might be something you
do care about.>>Yeah. Or if it could be, you know, people all of
a sudden decide that they don’t like the way
cows are slaughtered. Well, that’s
what happens.>>What I realized doing
this documentary is there is no way
that I was going to really know what I felt
about force feeding, about gavage, unless I
went to a farm myself. Enough. First of all, Sonoma Foie
is out of business at this point, so I can’t visit Sonoma
Foie, which is the only farm that was actually
shut down by this ban. We tried to get
permission to film the force feeding process
in the two farms that are currently operating
in New York state, and for whatever reason
they didn’t want to participate in
this documentary. So, and I go to someone
who produces it in a very small way, in
a very artisanal way, to see kind of what Foi Gras
can be in its best light. [MUSIC].>>I’m here at
the Elevage De Bouyssou, in the heart of the Foi
Gras region in France, Dordogne, to see
how it’s done. Hey, I’m Dick
>>Hi, I’m Natalie, welcome to
Elevage De Bouyssou.>>I’ve come because
I really want to learn about
the process of making foie gras from
the beginning to the end.>>Yeah.>>The geese come to your farm when
they are how old?>>One day old.>>So like.>>Oh,
like this very small and they are very fragile
during one month. They stay inside and
then we get to see them. They are outside
all day long.>>All right.
Well in the U.S. all foie gras is
made from duck.>>Yeah.>>Here in France
a lot are made from duck too but
you only use the geese. Why?>>Yeah.
In our region, the tradition
is goose liver. So, that’s why we
do only geese. [NOISE].>>How long
are they out here? outside, just
living like this?>>Geese live outside
during four or five months.>>So,
like the first four or five months of their
life they are- .
>>Yes.>>Free range entirely.>>Of course. Yeah. They need green
all the time.>>All right.
There, that guy got a worm. I just saw him
get a worm. Why don’t you tell me about the tradition of
foie gras here in France.>>In France,
we feed the geese since, a very long time. Since Egypt, the tradition arrived
in France, but here, in Dodan, we are the first producer
of goose liver in France.>>The foie gras
is definitely, here in France at least,
not an elitist food. No, absolutely everybody
hit foie gras. Everybody.>>I mean, I’m sure
you know in America, we have a lot of
controversy around.>>I know.>>Foie gras.
So in California we have a, a ban on
production of foie gras. I’m sure you’ve
heard about it. What, what do you
think of this?>>I think that
Californian, love to drink,
love to hit. But me, I can say that
people that are against the forced-feeding don’t
know anything about it, have never seen
how it is done.>>Since I think
the gavage, the force-feeding,
is really at the heart of what
people are upset about, why don’t we
go see gavage?>>So this is where we
feed the geese, inside. Okay, you’re not going
to feed them right?>>No, not me.>>No?>>The specialist is my husband Dennis. [SOUND]. This one is a male. [SOUND]. Males are stronger
than females. So you see it’s
very quick. [NOISE]. [LAUGH]. [SOUND]. That’s for the beginning. The four first days,
that’s what they eat. In one week,
they will eat four or five times
more than that.>>Each,
each session, huh?>>Each, yes. [SOUND]. So the corn is old. The corn is not crushed.>>Right.
So, you probably couldn’t test that on me,
and stick it down my throat,
>>No?>>No, no. You’re not a goose.>>No.
>>[LAUGH].>>All right. Okay, so
seeing the gavage, can we take a look
at the liver?>>Yeah.
We can see our lab shere we
prepare the liver.>>Okay.
>>Let’s go. [MUSIC].>>This, this is the finished foie
gras from a goose. This.>>Yeah. This is a meal of
Saiwong 700 round. And you can see the big
part and the smaller one. This is one liver. So when we open the, the, the, the goose,
we take off the liver. But now we
have to choose, which quality
is this liver. So, we feel the texture,
and if this liver is sweet,
if it’s not too grainy, if it’s not too fatty. Probably it will be
the first quality.>>So, what’s this one?>>This one is probably
first quality.>>Yeah.
So how do you tell by.>>Look. If you put your finger. Like this.>>Mm-hm.>>You can see that
it’s very, it’s, it’s sweet, it’s.>>You know,
it feels like what we in the United States
called silly putty but it doesn’t bounce,
it like, it gives a little bit but
it doesn’t.>>Yeah,
it’s not too hard.>>It doesn’t mush. It doesn’t go [SOUND].>>No, absolutely, and
it’s not too hard. If the liver is really, really hard, then it’s
not a best quality.>>What happens
if it’s too hard? Too much fat,
it renders out too much?>>Yes.
It’s probably too big, and too much fat.>>A lot of the ant,
anti foie gras people, what they see here is
the product of torture.>>Yeah. You know, what do,
what do you see? What does this
product mean to you?>>Oh, for me is
the best thing that we can have in
French cooking. We’re very proud in
France to produce this kind of thing. We live with this. We, it’s whole life. We, we think about
foie gras each day. We work for this. We love to eat it,
and we are proud. We want to. Show to the people
that we are not bad people that love
to hurt the animal. I’m solidly not. We love our animals. But now.>>Yeah.
Let’s taste. [MUSIC].>>It’s for me?>>Uh-huh.>>I love it.>>That’s delicious.>>It is?>>No, it really is.>>With wine it
will be better.>>Mm-hm. But listen, Natalie, I feel like I really
understand a lot more about how this
stuff is made. This is a delicious
product. Thanks so much.>>It was a pleasure. You’re welcome. I hope you have understood everything
about foie gras. Now, you know everything. [LAUGH].>>Yes. Well I didn’t know quite
what to expect coming and actually seeing the foie
gras being made. I do know that the geese
weren’t as kind of freaked out as I
thought they’d be. I feel that we’ve seen
as good as foie gras manufacturer is
gonna get. So if you’re not. For foie gras based
on what happens here. I dont think you’re
ever going to be for foie gras. [MUSIC] On January 7th,
2015 a U.S. district judge overturned
the California ban on foie gras because it
violated federal law already regulating
the poultry industry. With this current ruling,
the ban against foie gras in California is
effectively over but whether or not it was
about the ethical treatment of animals or
about politics, Guillermo Gonzalez’s
farm is finished. But the battle is
far from over. Animal rights activists
are encouraging California’s
Attorney General to file an appeal. [CROSS-TALK].>>Who justifies
suffering?>>99 percent of the- .
>>Who does that? You know, who does that? Nazis, slave owners,
women beaters.>>This is something,
this is.>>So every,
99 percent of the human beings are eating,
they’re eating meat.>>How many animals
died today?>>[INAUDIBLE]
on your rights?>>We have just
begun to fight.

100 thoughts on “Foie Gras & the Ethics of Force-Feeding: The Politics of Food

  • People who are critical about food and people who are critical about entertainment are all cut from the same cloth. Yes the preparation for making fois gras is wrong. Yes there are lots of people who don’t agree with it. Yes though I would like to try it myself one day, as there is a legitimate reason people eat it, I’m not in the biggest hurry to do so. Whether it’s food, music, movies, sports, etc. if you really want to “hurt what you dislike” in any way the most effective way to do so is to not give it any power and ignore it. This is why the saying goes there is no such thing as bad press.

  • Fuck your mom! Foie gras is delicious and dog meats is delicious too. You eat fish, ox, and because gooses and dogs are different so you don't eat? BULLSHIT!

  • Why is he asking a foie gras producer what she see when she looks at foie gras??? The answer is easy! Gold ofcourse!

  • For those who disagree, let's see how u feel when someone forces a tube down your throat and pumps down food till your literally about to burst out….

  • This bitch ass asian woman acting like she can't survive without foie gras while at the same time she can't even cook and serve it properly. That, my friends, is pretentiousness 101.

  • "Do you think they put up a show for you when you visited the farm?" "No. No. I knew him before." We definitely believe you now that we learned you knew him before. How could you tell if they put up a show anyway? You can't be present there 24/7.

  • All California does is ban ban ban and it never works. Let’s ban guns when we can’t even enforce banning duck livers

  • Ok, I'm fascist, but there´s nothing better in the world, no appetizer is at least equal. I hope later in my life I´ll became vegan, but now I´m a meat eater so fuck me right?

  • Regardless of the benefits of it, harming an innocent being is inherently wrong. You cannot argue against that, but any form of mass farming of animals are just as bad I'd not worse that this, you cant be against one and not the other

  • The only things that really bothered me about the CA farm are how dirty the animals looked and the barrels of dead animals. Those animals died for nothing. That is not good husbandry.

  • And it seems eerie how many people in the comments are more affected by the protesters than by the horror that the ducks are going through…


  • I’m not vegan or anything, but that is fucked to do that. That Asian girl gave me weird vibe like if she sucked duck dick for fun. Lol the old guy burton got super pissed lol.

  • 30:10 the moment you know your lying out of your ass and know that at the end of the day it all comes down to money. Everyone gets a piece and wha-la! Nothing here happened have a nice day!

  • how i make foie gras: step1 leave a big bowl of goose feed out step 2 select the naturaly greedy gees to eat all the food they can step 3 let them gorge themselves at their leasure for a few weeks step 4 butcher them and then make foie gras from the naturaly gluttons gees

  • Just found out about Foie Gras from Gordan Ramsay video clip and I was feeding it to my baby girl.When I searched how its made,saw the ducks force feed video with that long metal tube I immediately said to my wife 'no more foie gras to ours baby'.Dont know how much of toxin that gigantic liver contains!

  • Any digust at the debatably unethical practice of making foie gras is heavily overshadowed by my digust at the protesters unrefutably unethical practices of the protestors/policticians that pushed for the ban.

  • Orrr maybe american farms just shouldn't be allowed to cut corners like this instead of banning the product alltogether. That farm obviously was a terrible place full of animal abuse but from what those videos showed, force feeding was the least of their problems. Very different to duck farms in france for example

  • I've never eaten Foie Gras, nor do I ever expect to since I don't care for the taste of liver. IMO, I think all this animal rights commotion is unwarranted on the grounds that, unless there is an accident or there is another underlying illness, it's NOT possible for the animals to be distressed with the feeding process.

    You might disagree with me, that's fine, but I don't need to be a duck or to empathize emotionally with something being rammed down my throat to know that it's how some ducks have always been fed and how they expect to be fed in the future. Being humane is one thing but this fight is just plain silly. Sure, the sight of a bird having its throat guided up a feeding tube seems excessive at first but it's how it gets fed all the time. It's normal for the bird and the process is quick. In scenes with the large holding pens, you don't see any of the ducks running away from the guy with the feeding tube. In fact, you see them jockey for position to be fed next.

    As hatchlings, all fowl are fed the same way. The momma's duckbill goes deep down the duckling's throat to its stomach. And the baby wants more. I doubt the mature ducks have any opinion about the method since they have full bellies and they've been force-fed the same way all their lives. It's all they know.

    If you think that they are distressed then you're just being hypersensitive. It's due to your own ignorance about their anatomy and their history. They have long necks and they can take it. It's also how the medical personnel feeds injured birds. Nobody complains about that!

  • Oh my god, the ducks are being force fed, killed, and then eaten by people…..

    Oh wait…. Don’t we do this shit to almost all animals?

  • It's fucked up, and I'm cool with it being banned here in the UK, but good lord it's delicious. It's so much better than regular goose liver

  • Alot of the animals we eat are treated the same way. It's been going on for centuries. If you don't like it don't eat it. If it makes you feel bad I totally understand. It's become a moral choice in today's world to eat any animal.

  • 1) The videos of ducks in bad conditions with rats contrasts with the statements of people who had actually visited the farm . Were the videos set up and lies ? 2) The geese in France looked to be in good condition 3) I have eaten foie gras a couple of times , very good but expensive .

  • Gearmo Gonzales is a stupid bitch. I'm glad he lost his ass in the end. I hope he dies a slow painful death like his ducks hes tortured.

  • Honestly it’s so cruel cause if it was us who was being forced fed it would be horrible but at the end of the day people like to eat and foie gras apparently is the shit lol

  • Most factory farms are at least this bad or worse so I dont understand why you hypocrites are so shocked?
    But never mind me, keep shoveling flesh into your mouth with no consideration for the suffering it took to get it.

  • People should be able to eat what they want in peace … j people could say that genetically modifying plants is wrong and vegans would find a way around it is the same way that the foi grade ppl would find a way around the ban

  • Funny how those who profess to be all for the animals and how peaceful they are only seem to use violence as their way to get their point across

  • I'm on the "raw carnivore diet", and this intolerable. It's all about respecting the animal and being thankful for the life it provides us.

  • Well SCREW those JERKS !! I'll gladly force fed those stupid ducks and geese for that fatty luxury
    But I'll give them a funeral with their own families crying

  • oohh~ that screaming girl is quite scary… can somebody give her a glass of water

    and really "how many animals died today?" smh~

  • They shut him down cause he was making more than em. oh lordt. the only Gonzales. yeah sums it up. only in carlifornia but you can come with some from other parts.

  • I'm a vegan now , what's even worse is how the milk that simply belongs to the baby animal child is stolen by humans and vegetarians are no less responsible for this !

  • Liver pain in humans can be so scary as I felt it at several occassions, so it's very sad to know these kinds of birds being force fed so their livers will be fattenee up.

  • I’m fine with eating beef cuz they just get killed, the pain is instant. These geese are tortured from the moment they are born until their last breath. It’s incredibly cruel.

  • How disgusting, I’m all for animal rights, but these same people saying “violence is violence” are just going and being violent to others. Violence shouldn’t be happening from either side

  • Anarchist in law school… That raises a lot of flags… And the journalist did say that even cows and pigs are treated worse. So steak and chops should be banned as well?

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