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Local Chefs Rally to Keep Foie Gras Legal in CA

As the foie gras ban looms, some 20 foie gras farmers, distributors, and chefs gathered on Friday at the JW Marriot downtown to hash out plans to keep the French delicacy on L.A. menus.

Supporters of the luxury food, which will become illegal in California come July 2012, are mounting a grassroots effort, including distributing a “foie gras facts” postcard (up above), creating an online petition, and pushing the California Restaurant Association to take a pro-foie gras stance.

Local chefs are also planning to protest by preparing foie gras dinners before the ban.

“I think the French are laughing at us,” says Greg Daniels, Executive Chef at Haven Gastropub in Pasadena. “I think there are much better targets of you’re trying to protect animal rights.”

Producers point to chicken and cattle farming as being far less humane. “At the end of the day it’s not about the ducks,” says distributor Ariane Daguin, but a “vegetarian agenda.”

During the meeting, distributors stressed that the process of making foie gras, which has been around 2,000 years, doesn’t hurt the ducks and is essentially recreating something that occurs naturally when the animals prepare for migration.

“It’s a USDA product produced in USDA plants,” said Robert Ambrose of La Belle Farms, who flew in from New York for the meeting. “We know how we produce it and we take pride in what we do and in our farms?. but we’re a small community, which makes us an easy target.”

Indeed, there are only three foie gras farms in the country — one in California — and each claims to practice artisanal farming methods.

The ban is seven years in the making. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the legislation into effect in 2004, but included a July 2012 deadline to give producers a window to come up with more sustainable methods.

Without other options, foie gras could become a very pricey contraband.

“We have to find some way to get it.” Daniels says, adding that he might also take the risk of serving the dish even with the potential $1,000 fine. “We’ll take that chance for a little while.”
·All Foie Gras Coverage [~ELA~]
— Jamie Wetherbe