Chicago has become the first city in the US to ban the sale of foie gras. New York has banned the production of it within its borders.
The issue is that ducks are force-fed through funnels; the excess food is necessary to increase the size of their livers. Now, I’m no fan of animal cruelty, nor animal products, really, but this is excessive. First of all, ducks lack a gag reflex. It’s not like sticking a tube down the throat of a human. Second, ducks are fed that way from birth by their duck moms, who stick their bills down the chickies throats. So this isn’t anything very unusual for the ducks – it’s just the quantity of the food.
What really bothers me is how hypocritical this is. The conditions that foie gras ducks are kept in is much better than the conditions of many other animals used for farming (esp. veal cattle, which are kept anemic), but Chicago hasn’t outlawed the sale of non-organic meats and dairy products. Likewise, New York has not instituted free-range or antibiotic requirements on its in-state farms.
As a legal issue, this is bothersome. If you don’t like foie gras or the method in which it was prepared, then don’t eat it or boycott the places in which it is sold. The free market works beautifully where food is concerned; the rise of organic products in response to consumer demand is a perfect example. (Yes, I justify my vegetarianism on free-market ideals.)