Foie gras ban spurs French boycott of California wine


Ooh la la! Who knew California's new ban on the sale of foie gras would anger the French?

A politician in a small region of France known for the delicacy is calling on all restaurants in his country to stop serving California wine in retaliation for the new state law.

Restaurant owners and retailers here who oppose the ban understand the sentiment.

"The law has already put out of business one small company," said retailer Darrell Corti. "Who is the next small company to be put of business by the law?"

The state's foie gras ban took effect on July 1 after animal-rights activists successfully convinced lawmakers that force-feeding ducks and geese through a tube to fatten their livers was cruel.

They're fine with the boycott because France doesn't really import a lot California wine.

"If I had to choose between a bottle of delicious California wine and some fatty diseased liver that came from some French farm where they were tortured, I think most people would find that an easy call to make," said Jennifer Fearing, California director of the Humane Society of the United States.

The food fight is reminiscent of a 2003 call in the U.S. to rename French fries "Freedom Fries" after France refused to support the U.S. position on Iraq.

It's not just the French who are retaliating. Some within California are openly thumbing their nose at the law.

One Silicon Valley restaurant is still serving foie gras, offering it for free if customers buy the pricey tasting menu.

And San Francisco's Presidio Social Club restaurant is also dishing it up, claiming it's on federal land exempt from state laws.

At the California State Fair's wine tasting, people are wondering why this is even happening.

"That's their loss. Napa has some of the finest wines," said Kimberly Hodge, a California wine enthusiast.

"For the good of the industry and for the good of sharing good wine, don't boycott it," said California resident Benjamin Johnson.

"It's ridiculous," said wine enthusiast Jane Holton. "We should be able to eat what we want to eat in restaurants we go to. We should be able to drink what we want to drink wherever we go to."

A lawsuit to block enforcement of the foie gras ban is still pending. It claims restaurants and distributors don't know how the bird was fed, let alone whether it was force-fed.

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