What am I, chopped liver?
May 14, 2008 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Geese are on the run once again in Chicago, as the City Council overturns its recent ban on foie gras, which had been prompted in part by prodding from animal rights activists. Many chefs (although not all) were furious when the ban was enacted, missing the "exquisite taste, silky texture." They had threatened civil disobedience and even filed a lawsuit. And now epicurians as well as Jewish grandmothers rejoice.
posted by twsf (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
NYT:
In bringing the measure to the floor, Mayor Richard M. Daley, never a supporter of the ban, ignored pleas from the ban’s sponsor, Alderman Joe Moore, who, The Tribune said, warned his colleagues that, “Tomorrow it could happen to you.”

What “it” was wasn’t clear.
posted by grouse at 2:08 PM on May 14, 2008


Chopped liver is not foie gras and I shudder at the thought processes of those who sought to undo this regulation. The commitment to cruelty runs deep it seems.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:13 PM on May 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I guess one man's "silky texture" is another man's "disgusting oily sliminess."
posted by rokusan at 2:14 PM on May 14, 2008


Did the Chicago law cover chopped liver? I've never eaten anyplace high-tone enough to have foie gras on the menu, but an all-out liver ban woulda been tragic.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:14 PM on May 14, 2008


I have never really understood how someone makes the leap from "I won't eat it" to "you can't eat it, either."

And yeah... chopped liver is usually chicken livers. Literally, a completely different kettle of fish -- or something.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:18 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really wish being evil wasn't so delicious.
posted by Evangeline at 2:24 PM on May 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


On one hand, I find it silly for local governments to regulate things like this...

On the other hand, the process of force-feeding and fattening the geese to make foie-gras is utterly disgusting and should be considered animal cruelty... the problem is, that requires something much bigger than a local ban... which goes right back to why local bans are just silly..

It shouldn't be banned from being served... it should be banned from being made in the first place... and I really dislike PETA, for the record...
posted by twiggy at 2:31 PM on May 14, 2008


We didn't ban fur coats, yet somehow they are strongly discouraged.
posted by Pants! at 2:33 PM on May 14, 2008


While I'm all for stricter laws on animal treatment in the slaughter industry, I'll never get why geese got the benefit of the doubt when it comes to inhuman conditions. Overfeeding geese is cause for a ban, but cutting off a chicken's beak and feet and skinning cows alive gets the green light?
posted by zoomorphic at 2:37 PM on May 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would never eat foie gras, but prohibition on any product is doomed to fail. Good riddance.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:39 PM on May 14, 2008


While I don't necessarily have a dog (goose?) in this fight, I'm not sure how much harm is actually done to the geese during the fattening process. I recall an episode of "No Reservations" in which Tony goes to a foie gras farm and they film the feeding process. I don't have sound at work and as such cannot verify what they actually say about the process, but I don't think it's as bad as most think. They interview a local vet who says it's relatively harmless and if I remember correctly the little buggers practically form a queue when it's feeding time. As zoomorphic points out above, far worse is practiced daily on other animals in the course of getting them to market so I'm not sure why this gets people in such an uproar.
posted by friendlyjuan at 2:55 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Far far far worse things were done to your lunch and breakfast today than are ever done to the ducks/geese in foie gras production. Heaven forbid anyone take personal responsibility for their food as it may interfere with their righteous indignation about what someone else is eating. The whole situation was laughable and disgusting.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:00 PM on May 14, 2008


I'll never get why geese got the benefit of the doubt when it comes to inhuman conditions.

Because it's a ten million times easier to try and ban some effete, fringe product that only a fraction of a fraction of the constituents eat, let alone know about (ex. foie gras = chicken livers), than it is to try and legislate a mainstay of the meat market, where hundreds of thousands of tons of product are bought and sold each year, and has an industry fortified with the money of those sales to prevent any restrictive legislation before it even gets out of committee.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:03 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good lord, have you ever had a close encounter with a goose? They're awful brutes, hissing and spitting and beating children with their monstrous wings. They'd eat us in a minute if they could fit us down those revolting sea-serpent necks. We should be supporting the goose eaters -- they're heroes delivering us from the pestilence.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:15 PM on May 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


kraftmatic beat me to it. Fuck geese, next time I have fois gras I'm going to guess what it's name was and smile as I savour the taste, thinking of that one that chased me down the street in Markham _after_ crossing the road in front of me.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:21 PM on May 14, 2008


Doesn't surprise me. People don't have any connection to what they eat any more - they buy meat in a pretty little styrofoam and plastic package at the supermarket.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:24 PM on May 14, 2008


People don't have any connection to what they eat any more - they buy meat in a pretty little styrofoam and plastic package at the supermarket.

That's why I strongly endorse stalking, killing, and butchering your own animal rights activists.

They really do taste so much fresher taken in the wild.

Admittedly, their diet of seeds, berries and sanctimony does leave them a little less tender than supermarket cuts, but this is easily resolved by taking them off the grill just before they reach medium-rare.
posted by dersins at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


So meat-eating is chic and edgy again? Phew, I guess I can stop being a vegan, finally! Or, wait, didn't I have a different reason?

(Animal liberationist who also has no love in his heart for PETA and their hysterical campaigning, which only alienates other liberationists from the rest of society and tars the lot of us with the same brush.)
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


*sharpen knives, sizes up turgid*
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:41 PM on May 14, 2008


What? What'd I do now?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:46 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm escaping to the rectal thermometer thread! Follow me...if you dare!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:47 PM on May 14, 2008


Oh for fuck's sake. Advocating killing people who challenge you in the slightest. Threads like this are why I support animal rights and animal rights activists. The extreme overreaction and refusal to allow anyone to disrupt your established practices means that these groups must be on to something.

You threaten to take away someone's porn or their precious meat and they flip out and masturbate over their sad little fantasies. Hurf Durf I eat three and all that. The only thing that gets close to this kind of absurd response is renaming sports teams and that's pretty minor.

Just imagine. You advocate creating a financial services regulatory commision? How dare you! For every rating agency you investigate, I'll open a dozen payday lenders! I will hunt down those who enforce seatbelt laws! Take away my right to use asbestos and I'll kill you in your sleep.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:51 PM on May 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake. Advocating killing people who challenge you in the slightest. Threads like this are why I support animal rights and animal rights activists.

Who says animal rights activists are humorless twits who can't take a joke!
posted by dersins at 4:01 PM on May 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


I also saw the 'No Reservations' episode mentioned above, and these geese get a lot more freedom than the average chicken or cow. If you are going to ban foie gras, then just go ahead and ban everything...it makes just as much sense.

I was a vegetarian for 10 years for ecological reasons, now i'm primarily a locavore. People will get what they want if they want it, so i'm sure that the black market was busy with foie gras anyway, so the whole point of the ban was probably never realized. Look at the war on drugs, good thing we banned drugs, because it's so hard to get drugs now right?
posted by schyler523 at 4:03 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


*sharpen knives, sizes up turgid*

Can't we force feed him for a few weeks before we butcher him?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:05 PM on May 14, 2008


Wait, wait, are these declawed geese?
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The extreme overreaction and refusal to allow anyone to disrupt your established practices means that these groups must be on to something.

You know who else was onto something?
posted by grouse at 4:10 PM on May 14, 2008


Let's make a deal. People will quit force feeding geese if geese will quit pooping all over golf courses and eating farmers' emerging crops.
posted by Cranberry at 4:32 PM on May 14, 2008


Parts is parts, meat is meat and a mans gotta eat.
posted by Max Power at 5:02 PM on May 14, 2008


Wait, wait, are these declawed geese?

Semi-related goose story: I went on a DF&G goose banding event where we spent the day running through mud, herding wild Canadian geese into pens to get banded and swabbed (for West Nile virus). Those bastards can claw. And bite. And while it looks amusing as hell to see a goose biting someone, when its your tender bits that are getting gnawed upon by that big flat beak while being beaten roundly about the head with 3' wings, rest assured the humor factor evaporates quickly. None of us escaped with less than a dozen big bloody scratches on our arms.
posted by jamaro at 5:08 PM on May 14, 2008


Dave Faris Because it's a ten million times easier to try and ban some effete, fringe product that only a fraction of a fraction of the constituents eat

Exactly. One small victory at a time. Pick the most obnoxious practice of the least powerful opposition, and get it banned. Then pick a new battle. Did you think banning foie gras was the end goal? No wonder you have never really understood how someone makes the leap from "I won't eat it" to "you can't eat it, either", Dave. You're not seeing the underlying purpose. It works the same way with any activity that group A engages in and group B considers undesirable for people to do.

Anyway, the real hope for the end of cruelty (and pollution and global warming and oxygen-desert formation in the oceans and economic differential effects on food access and all kinds of other nastiness) in food production is in food biosynthesis. Vat-grown "meat", which can taste however you want, look however you want, and contain the nutrients you actually need.

The meat industry doesn't have cruelty to animals as a positive goal. They are cruel to animals because they value profit-making above compassion. (They're also cruel to their human workers, to smaller competitors, etc etc.) This is the same as the plastics manufacturing industry and pollution, or whatever, pick any of a million examples. Even, the drug pushing industry and overdosing junkies. The way to drive out a social evil, where that evil is clearly engaged in for profit, is to take the profit out. (That's not always easy, of course.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:13 PM on May 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


Who says animal rights activists are humorless twits who can't take a joke!

Maybe if the joke was, y'know, funny, and not moronic rehashed sub-Denis Leary HURF DURF MACHO MEAT BEATER dick-waving. With that kind of material, why not apply for a staff position on South Park and entertain all the frat brothers at Phi Alpha Statutory Rape?

I mean, I eat meat, but people who are all faux-macho and "edgy" about it make me not want to, just so I won't be associated with them.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:25 PM on May 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


"I guess one man's "silky texture" is another man's "disgusting oily sliminess.""

Yeah no chit, but regardless of whether you like foie gras or you don't, or you love ducks or you don't, what the heck is it with legislators? They could do us all a favor by being seen and not heard.

Who told these birds (turkeys, with a few lame ducks thrown in) that we need MORE RULES?

I judge my legislators by the laws they DO NOT PASS.
posted by LiveLurker at 5:56 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


As was earlier pointed out, chopped liver (of the Jewish grandmother variety) is not the same as gourmet delicacy foie gras. In fact, in many ways it is the exact opposite. Otherwise, the expression, "what am I, chopped liver?" (i.e. nothing special) wouldn't mean what it means.

I had my bachelor party at Sammy's Roumainian Steakhouse, where they mix the chopped liver with the schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) right at the table, the way some Mexican restaurants make guacamole table side. Except instead of authentic lava mortar & pestles, there were bottles of vodka frozen in blocks of ice being passed around.

Happily married, indeed.
posted by ericbop at 7:03 PM on May 14, 2008


It works the same way with any activity that group A engages in and group B considers undesirable for people to do.

So in other words, animal rights activists and anti-abortion activists are more alike than you'd think. Nibble away at a freedom you disagree with until the whole bottom drops out. And then what? Utopia?
posted by Dave Faris at 7:30 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe if the joke was, y'know, funny, and not moronic rehashed sub-Denis Leary HURF DURF MACHO MEAT BEATER dick-waving. With that kind of material, why not apply for a staff position on South Park and entertain all the frat brothers at Phi Alpha Statutory Rape?

Careful, your underlying hatreds are showing.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:46 PM on May 14, 2008


in other words, animal rights activists and anti-abortion activists are more alike than you'd think. Nibble away at a freedom you disagree with until the whole bottom drops out. And then what? Utopia?

Our society has done away with plenty of "freedoms" it deemed cruel, it's no practice unique to animal rights and anti-abortion activists. Remember the freedom to own a slave? Freedom to treat your workers however the hell you want? Freedom to do whatever the fuck you want with no thoughts towards negative consequences?

I'm not saying those are all on the same level as abortion or meat eating, but don't act like those two groups are the only ones who have challenged what one has the "freedom" to do.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:46 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can we talk about circumcision now?
posted by grouse at 7:49 PM on May 14, 2008


don't act like those two groups are the only ones who have challenged what one has the "freedom" to do.

What words did I use to suggest that these were the only ones? I was more struck to realize that the typical person I expect to be an animal rights activist is also a person who believes in a woman's right to choose, though the tactics both group uses are identical, and that there's no ethical disconnect.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:13 PM on May 14, 2008


I've owned pet birds for decades and have had to force feed them food, fluids, and medicine at different times in their lives. It's pretty close in person to what you may have seen in the Tony Bourdain episode. It's really not that traumatic, they're instinctively used to having food crammed down their throats from when they're babies. In fact, I'd say that clipping my birds' toenails is far more traumatic than having to force feed them.
posted by chicken nuglet at 8:25 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


What words did I use to suggest that these were the only ones? I was more struck to realize that the typical person I expect to be an animal rights activist is also a person who believes in a woman's right to choose, though the tactics both group uses are identical, and that there's no ethical disconnect.

You identified and compared two specific groups by virtue of a technique that you believe makes them similar enough to comment on, so it follows that you're implying that their behavior is unique enough to reasonably single them out.

"Group X lobbies against things it believes are wrong - that's awfully similar to Group Y, which also lobbies against things it believes are wrong!" - I think it's reasonable that this invites the argument, "Yeah - so do a lot of groups. So what?"

Anyway - you might be interested in this thread, which brought up the issue of abortion vs. veg*nism.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:00 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Foie gras tastes like cat food anyway. I hate "foodies".
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:23 AM on May 15, 2008


So, the only local business here in Chicago that I heard about being cited for foie gras was Hot Doug's, the gourmet encased meats emporium (i.e. super-deluxe yummy-awesome hot dot joint on Roscoe and California). I was sad to hear Doug got a ticket. He's a swell guy. A couple of friends of mine recently went to Hot Doug's on a busy saturday morning. One friend had forgotten to get cash before hand. At the register, he ordered a Dog. Doug asked if he wanted fries or a drink. Friend lamented that he only had so much cash on him. Doug said, "order it, see what happens". Friend does. Doug says, "Okay, a dog, fries and a pop. I won't charge you for the fries or pop so it won't sting so much when I say, 'You're a grown man. Keep twenty fucking dollars in your wallet!'"
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 1:14 AM on May 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Foie gras is delicious. Glad Chicago came to its senses; hopefully California will too before this family farm is ruined.
posted by Nelson at 7:14 AM on May 15, 2008


Wait, wait, are these declawed geese?

No, they're circumcised.

Vat-grown "meat", which can taste however you want

That's a great idea, except that we really, really don't understand how taste works well enough to actually synthesize the taste of beef. And it seems like it's a long way off.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:55 AM on May 15, 2008


What I wonder is how the organic food freaks will figure out how to stomach the ultimate in man-made, genetically modified, processed foods.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:24 AM on May 15, 2008


There's that, too.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:32 AM on May 15, 2008


I can only imagine that the hardcore animal rights people figure that they wouldn't actually consume the stuff since they're vegans anyway. It's the people who insist on being carnivores who would be forced to eat the stuff in their dystopia.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:52 AM on May 15, 2008


Foie gras is delicious.

Legend has it that battered toddler is pretty good too but, y'know, try a salad once in a while and try living life with your mind rather than your stomach.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:51 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, disclaimer: I only say this because I am a little unsettled by the "if it feels good, do it!" school of thought, not out of any personal animosity. Your dietary habits are not any of my business or concern and I am not out to convert anybody, but if you are going to preemptively present justifications for eating animal flesh and organs, then I become a little more interested, y'know?
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:58 PM on May 15, 2008


try a salad once in a while

Foie gras salad is the best!
posted by grouse at 3:00 PM on May 15, 2008


What I wonder is how the organic food freaks will figure out how to stomach the ultimate in man-made, genetically modified, processed foods.

There's definitely that - a lot of people don't even feel comfortable eating entire cloned animals, let alone pieces of cloned/grown meat.

Personally, I'm not a big "organic" person but I am a vegetarian... as long as it was proven to be safe, I'd love it if cloned meat were developed. My main reasons for being a vegetarian are ethical (that is: it's not really a "health" issue with me) Cloned meat would solve my issues with factory farming/animal cruelty, and that'd be rad.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:06 PM on May 15, 2008


Foie gras salad is the best!

You...it's...that...*splutters incoherently*.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:29 PM on May 15, 2008


I don't think it's so much "if it feels good, do it," but rather, if it tastes good, eat it. I'm not a monk. I don't really see the need to deprive myself of what little pleasures life offers. I choose not to eat foie gras mostly because I don't really understand what the attraction is ... it doesn't give me the mouth orgasm that others seem to feel for it. (shrug) But it seems to me that rather than the majority of (carnivorous) humanity justifying their actions, it seems to me that it should fall on the shoulders of the lettuce eaters to justify their own aberrance.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:47 PM on May 15, 2008


But it seems to me that rather than the majority of (carnivorous) humanity justifying their actions, it seems to me that it should fall on the shoulders of the lettuce eaters to justify their own aberrance.

Easy: I don't need to eat meat to survive and be healthy, and I prefer not to cause unnecessary suffering.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:35 PM on May 15, 2008


Easy: I don't need to eat meat to survive and be healthy, and I prefer not to cause unnecessary suffering.


Oh for God's sake. Carnivorous and omnivorous animals eat other animals. That's what we do. Yes, the way we treat other animals is often grotesque at best, but I am sick to fucking death of vegetarians proclaiming their superiority as if we didn't evolve to eat flesh. Come the fuck on.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:04 PM on May 16, 2008


That's what we do.

No, that's what you do.

I've simply chosen not to.

Doesn't make me superior, and I've never claimed that it does, and I never will make that claim.

It's funny, though, how we're animals when it comes to stuff like this, but in other situations we're better than them.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:59 PM on May 16, 2008


Of course we're better than them. That's why we eat them.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:46 PM on May 16, 2008


I never will make that claim.

You don't need to, your thinly veiled implications do it for you.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:35 PM on May 16, 2008


It's funny, though, how we're animals when it comes to stuff like this, but in other situations we're better than them.


Nice strawman. You said that, not I.

That's what we do.

No, that's what you do.

I've simply chosen not to.


And carefully imply, while claiming otherwise, that it makes you superior. It doesn't. This may be news to you.

I never will make that claim.

You don't need to, your thinly veiled implications do it for you.

Bingo!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:39 PM on May 16, 2008


I am sick to fucking death of vegetarians proclaiming their superiority as if we didn't evolve to eat flesh.

C'mon, dude -- what moral significance are you attributing to our having evolved to eat (some) meat? Why does it matter? Remember, we don't have to eat meat, we simply have that capacity. Since when does having evolved the capacity to do something make it okay to do it?

Rape and murder are part of our evolutionary patrimony, too. We have ancestors who would not have passed on their genes if not for those behaviors. That doesn't make them morally normative. You can respond by saying that rape and murder are different -- we know they're wrong. But that eviscerates the argument that we have to morally respect behaviors that have evolved.

We have to examine our behaviors when they affect other sentient creatures, even if a significant proportion of our ancestors had those same behaviors. Evolution is no excuse not to measure meat-eating (or vegetarianism, duh) against moral standards. Once you reach this pass, of course, you have to think about the tremendous pain and suffering imposed on most food animals, and the waste of energy and resources in growing plants to feed animals we breed rather than to feed humans (the process is about 10% calorie-efficient, depending on the animal, not counting the costs of managing the animals).

There may be a case to be made for eating meat on the merits, but you can't get there by ignoring its brutality, as though cruelty doesn't matter because we have appendices.
posted by grobstein at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2008


Rape and murder are part of our evolutionary patrimony, too.

That is ridiculous. Rape and murder are not essential to our survival. Eating is.

We have to examine our behaviors when they affect other sentient creatures

Perhaps. But why, then do other creatures geta free pass on eating meat? We. Are. Animals.

There may be a case to be made for eating meat on the merits, but you can't get there by ignoring its brutality, as though cruelty doesn't matter because we have appendices.


And there's the other fucking thing I am so sick and fucking tired of. How about you fucking read what I fucking wrote, you fucking wanker? Observe:

Yes, the way we treat other animals is often grotesque at best,

So could you please, pretty please with a fucking vegan sory goddamn cherry on top, show me where I said that I was ignoring the brutality and that cruelty doesn't matter?

OH YEAH I DIDN'T YOU STUPID FUCK.

Jesus fucking CHRIST I am sick of this shit around here.

ATTENTION METAFILTER

PLEASE TO BE STOPPING PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:29 AM on May 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, that certainly was convincing. I'm sure all the vegans will think twice before passing up that bacon now.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:59 AM on May 17, 2008


Dave, don't be a douche. I have zero fucking interest in persuading vegetarians/vegans to eat meat. My interest lies in puncturing their sanctimonious bullshit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:13 AM on May 17, 2008


And you certainly have done that. I'm sure they feel less superior now.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:20 AM on May 17, 2008


Why are you such a monumental douchebag?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:25 AM on May 17, 2008


I guess I'm just frustrated. I just spent the last hour searching the web for rational arguments against the superiority of veganism, and only managed to find article after article for debating against carnivores and omnivores -- with talking points and everything, written by well-meaning philosophy professors from expensive liberal arts colleges.

Had I known I could just resort to epithets and namecalling, I guess I wouldn't have wasted my time.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:31 AM on May 17, 2008


The epithets and namecalling were because he was being an asshole and putting words in my mouth.

The namecalling to you was, well, because you're a monumental douchebag who needs therapy.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:40 AM on May 17, 2008


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