The decision has been made: Foie gras will remain outlawed in California. The United States Supreme Court has upheld this law, already in effect since 2012. The argument they advanced: to refuse the marketing of food “solely because they are the product of animal cruelty.” Alain Delvert, foie gras producer for 40 years, finds this approach hypocritical.
In forbidding the importation of foie gras into California, Mr. Schwarzenegger made a totally utopian decision, marked by an unspeakable hypocrisy. The California governor has a totally biased vision of the force-feeding of geese and ducks.
As a foie gras producer for 40 years, I don’t think of doing harm to animals, as can be implied. I have absolutely nothing to reproach myself for. It’s very American to criticize our way of doing things, especially when one knows that that they brand their cattle and that this does not appear to bother them.
Only 13 Days of Force-Feeding
One must not believe everything the media says because we diligently obey a very strict set of regulations. Today, individual cages — which shut in animals in such a fashion that they cannot move — are strictly forbidden. And this is a good thing.
In order for things to be very clear, here is how I proceed.
The animals are raised outside in grassy areas for nearly four months. Then, for only 13 days — not all their lives, as some people claim — I force-feed them. The animals are then shut in collective cages that can hold between five and 10 of them. I assure you that they can move.
Each morning and evening, I force-feed them with corn or corn flour. The animals do not suffer.
Reality Is Not So Rude
It is a practice that already existed in ancient Rome and which forms a part of our way of life. Every year, I receive many American tourists curious to know how we make this typically French product. When they see the reality, they are always surprised and don’t understand why force-feeding has such a bad reputation in their country.
It is true that the image of force-feeding that one retains is that of these animals that were maintained in microscopic cages with a feeder pushed down their throats. I have always opposed these barbarous practices. People often mix the two together, and yet there is no reason to point the finger in this way at all producers.
Force-feeding is necessary. It doesn’t only allow for foie gras to be made, but also for duck breasts and duck fat, highly appreciated in our region, to be sold. Will Americans deprive themselves of duck breasts? I doubt it.
Americans Are Crazy about Foie Gras
In my southwestern region, Périgord-Dordogne, gastronomy is greatly honored. It is inscribed in our history, in our land, and it is certain that foie gras holds a choice place in it.
When American tourists come visit us, their first reaction is to want to test our gastronomy by going to the great tables of the region. And I can assure you that they taste, without any qualms, a small foie gras on toast when they come visit my operation.
So why outlaw it in California? “To not make animals suffer” is not a solid argument. If we hold ourselves to this reasoning, how should we explain the outlawing of certain cheeses (Roquefort, Mimolette)? There is no logic in their decisions.
I think that it is absolutely not a matter of an ideological war, but rather of an economic and political battle.
This decision is totally contradictory to the eating habits of our friends across the Atlantic. Do they really think that eating GMOs, meat with growth hormones or products stuffed with additives, is better for their health?
Foie gras is not harmful to our health.
Americans prefer to force-feed themselves with transformed and artificial fats, rather than to profit from what nature offers us. It’s a pity that the health of a people goes right into the wall for purely political reasons.
I Am Proud of My Work
I am proud of my job because it permits me to create work for at least two people and I believe that I have a tradition to maintain. I export my foie gras, but exclusively in Europe; therefore, this restriction has no economic impact on my production. I don’t think that this event will have repercussions at the level of local producers.
I don’t know how this happens in California, but here, in the Périgord, we are proud to know how to make healthy products to eat from the earliest age. Can the Americans only say the same about it?