In a new move from the New York Mayor’s office, the city has elected to ban the sale of controversial French food “foie gras”, starting in 2022. In a bill that passed the city council on Wednesday, officials decreed that both restaurants and grocery stores would be forbidden from selling the product in a little over two years, forcing New Yorkers to look further afield if they want to get their fill.
In a statement released to CNN, councilwoman Carlina Rivera - who was also the prime sponsor of the bill - declared foie gras production an “inhumane practice”, adding:
"As a lifelong advocate for animal rights, I am excited that the Council has voted to pass this historic legislation to ban the sale of these specific force-fed animal products."
Despite being a staple ingredient in French fine dining, foie gras has enjoyed a controversial reputation for decades. The food takes its name from the French for “fat liver” and is made by force-feeding a duck or goose until its liver swells to an unnatural size. The result is an incredibly rich, creamy pate that critics claim is a torturously cruel way to produce food.
New York isn’t the first city in the States to try and instigate a ban. Both California and Chicago have implemented similar legislation, only to have their bans overturned. In California’s case, it took an intervention from the Supreme Court to have the ban reinstated. Anyone found to be in contempt of the New York law could face a fine of $2,000 for each violation.
Despite criticism of the practise, foie gras is not without champions. The late great Anthony Bourdain had stern words for the dish’s critics on his show “No Reservations”, where he said of foie gras farms, “you see worse in the pay-per-view film on the hotel channel - and that's people, for God's sake."
Others, including chef Naomi Pomeroy, have highlighted the contradiction in continuing to allow a policy like factory farming, whilst banning a relatively minor industry like foie gras. Wherever you stand on the dish, however, New York’s position is uncompromising and clear.