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Force-Fed Legislation

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It's been busy legislative week up in Sacramento. One law in particular should make animal rights activists cheer and hardcore gastronomes groan: Governor Schwarzenegger signed the measure prohibiting the practice of gavage, AKA force-feeding ducks and geese to fatten their livers. Because of the Governor's largess and concern for the rights of animals who cannot speak for themselves, foie gras producers in the state will have to develop a humane alternative to the practice which is used to create the swollen, juicy livers to satisfy the finest epicurean palettes. Sounds like tough legislation to swallow for might foie gras purveyor, Sonoma Foie Gras,the state's only source of domestic foie gras.

Photo from Animal Exploitation Gallery.

This campaign seems to be relatively small potatoes here compared Europe, where tireless animal rights activists like Sir Paul McCartney and Brigitte Bardot remain outspoken over the creatures' plight. Bardot proclaimed gavage to be "a veritable form of torture for ducks and geese, which have to absorb huge quantities of food in a matter of seconds." Although not famed for the appeal of their national culinary tradition, Brits have given more thought to the Governator's move than we have so far.

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A few factors soften the bill's impact. Obviously, this delicacy is hardly a standard component of the average Californian's diet and, less obviously, the proprietor of Sonoma Foie Gras, Guillermo Gonzalez, has received the news with surprising alacrity. Gonzalez actually used the word "excited," and he also has little reason to be highly distressed over governmental intervention into his farming practices. After all, he has about eight years to continue business as usual until the ban takes effect and the $1,000 daily fine is imposed on violators.

But the Governor gets to chalk up another minor PR victory. LAist hopes his other decisions receive more attention, including his vetoing measures that would allow increased media access to prisons, remove barriers to obtaining lower cost Canadian prescription drugs, and provide consumer protection for buyers of used cars.