There has been a heated debate revolving around foie gras in the last decade or so. More pointedly, the gavage method has come under scrutiny, with many animal rights activists claiming that the force-feeding of ducks is an animal-rights violation. The controversy has gained ground, resulting in two major city and state bans.
A citywide ban of foie gras was enacted in the city of Chicago in 2006, forbidding restaurants and food establishments from selling foie gras. Short-lived, the Chicago foie gras ban was overturned in 2008, largely because of complaints from the Chicagoans that felt that the government should not dictate what they could or couldn’t eat. Additionally, the ban was difficult to enforce since it prohibited the “sale” of foie gras, and restaurants quickly devised ingenious ways around it, by selling the side dish, and “giving away” the foie gras.
In 2004, California enacted a law that banned foie gras in the entire state starting on July 1st 2012. The California law had the support of then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; it prohibits the production and sale of any product made from force-feeding birds, essentially banning the gavage system, and with it, foie gras. Because force-feeding is the only way to produce foie gras, it means that unlike the Chicago ban, Californian restaurants and food vendors cannot get around serving it. California is home to one of the few foie gras farms in the US, Sonoma Foie Gras, who will close their production in June 30th, 2012. That will leave New York’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras as the main producer of foie gras in the United States (the ban only applies to California).