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Foie gras ban has chefs, activists heating up

June 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The name is hard to pronounce, but foie gras is a delicacy that has the state turning up the heat on the people who sell it.

Restaurants have up to Saturday night to serve customers foie gras, which is fattened duck liver. After that, restaurants would face a $1,000 fine. California is the first state to ban the dish.

Sean Chaney owns Hot's Grill in Hermosa Beach. He's been selling foie gras ever since he opened the restaurant. He defends the dish, blasting the argument that foie gras is the result of inhumane treatment.

"They're taken care of better than some people. They're pampered ducks," said Chaney. "A lot of the propaganda they're putting out there is from Europe and these farms that have no regulation."

To fatten a duck's liver, farmers will slide a steel pipe down the bird's throat for about three seconds twice a day and pump a larger than normal amount of food to its stomach. This is the practice supporters of the ban condemn.

"They're force feeding these young animals until they practically explode, and then using those organs to feed human beings. It's gruesome," said Bev Morse of Hermosa Beach.

But many diners see California's ban as overreaching.

"Everyone has an opinion on what they think we should eat and shouldn't eat. But it's tasty so I'm going to keep on eating it," said Brent Cunningham.

As for Chaney, he says he'll keep serving up the controversial dish despite the ban.

"Arrest me. Arrest me for serving it. I think that would be great," he said.

He even made an offer some foie gras fans can't refuse.

"You're not allowed to sell it. You're allowed to eat it. You're allowed to possess it. You're just not allowed to sell it, and I won't sell it," he said. "I'll give it away. I'll charge you $20 for the toast and give you a piece of free foie gras."

Chaney says that plenty of other restaurants also plan to keep serving foie gras. They think police have better things to do than to conduct undercover foie gras stings.


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