Californian Foie Gras Lovers Will Soon Be At the Mercy of Ducks’ Rights

Californian Foie Gras Lovers Will Soon Be At the Mercy of Ducks’ Rights


A one-inch thick slice of duck liver sears in a small pan until the tender meat turns into a golden-brown shell inside the kitchen of a restaurant in San Francisco where Chef Gary Danko earned his Michelin star.

The delicacy, more popularly known as foie gras, is then garnished with champagne grapes and figs, a variation on the dish that Chef Danko has served since Restaurant Gary Danko opened in 1999 near Fisherman’s Wharf.

In interview, Danko said, “I sell probably 40 orders a night or more. When the protesters are here, double that.”

The protesters are composed of animal-rights advocates who claim that the practice of force-feeding the ducks and geese to make their livers plump is cruel. Danko, along with other California chefs, are set to remove foie gras from their menus when California becomes the first to ban the delicacy under a 2004 law.

The issue being raised by the protesters is the manner the birds are fed, which involves inserting a tube into the esophagus.

Paul Shapiro, a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States based in Washington, in a telephone interview said, “These birds have done nothing to deserve this fate of being force-fed several times a day. It’s an inhumane practice that should be relegated to the history books.”

On the other hand, connoisseurs are saying that the process imitates the birds’ behavior in the wild, where they gorge themselves before migrating. Purveyors of foie gras say that force-feeding does not cause the bird any pain, and that opponents are just trying to impose vegetarian values on everyone else.

The legislation, which was signed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, forbids force-feeding ducks or geese to make foie gras and bans selling foie gras produced that way.