Friday, July 20, 2012

Animal Rights Group deny us another little pleasure

Animal rights activists managed to get a California law banning pate foie gras because they don't like the way foie gras is made (some farmers force-feed ducks or geese to fatten their livers). The ban went into effect July 1st without much publicity or fanfare.

The Presidio Social Club, housed in a converted infantry barracks on a former U.S. Army base,  never attracted much attention  -- until Saturday night when foie gras lovers descended on the restaurant to have their first taste of the delicacy since California imposed the ban.

The restaurant says that it can legally ignore state law because the Presidio, now managed mostly as a national park, has remained federal property. Businesses on federal property must adhere to federal regulations, which trump state ones. They timed their event for Bastille Day -- the French national day -- hired a publicist and sent out a press release. "There are a lot of people who are upset about not being able to do something they have a right to do, so we just decided to go ahead and do it," restaurant managers said in an interview "The next step was to celebrate independence."

By Saturday place was on the map as never before, with diners claiming every one of its 117 seats. Naturally, a dozen activists chanting outside and park service police -- some of them on horseback -- struggling to make sure the two groups didn't clash.

The Presidio Social Club responded that the restaurant is getting its foie gras from a humane source in New York's Hudson Valley. The restaurant plans to continue serving foie gras. Activists reject the legal reasoning and have asked the federal agency managing the park, the Presidio Trust, to enforce the state ban.

The trust has yet to state its legal position. Executive Director Craig Middleton issued a statement: "I met with Mr. Tang on Wednesday and encouraged him to reconsider his decision" but did not say what would happen if Tang kept serving foie gras.

Enforcement of the foie gras law in San Francisco falls to the Animal Care and Control Department, and its director, Rebecca Katz, was unsure what authority she had in the Presidio. "It's not an unusual question to raise," Katz said, citing an ongoing dispute about dog leash laws in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Others have tried to work around the ban. Thirty miles away in Mountain View, California, Chez TJ restaurant was serving foie gras without listing it on the menu. "It's given away by the chef as a complimentary gift at his discretion," said General Manager Jessamine McLellan, noting that the law bans the sale and production -- but not the possession or consumption -- of foie gras.

Back at the Presidio Social Club -- which, contrary to its name, is a public restaurant with no membership -- diners figured they would enjoy their loophole as long as it lasted. Tang ordered enough foie gras for 560 two-ounce (57-gram)servings. "It's stunning," said Greg Pelling, 52, who was enjoying a $20 plate of foie gras sliders. "The pineapple adds a slight acidity, and paired with the sauterne (wine), it's amazing."

As for my personal opinion on this vitally important issue: Well, it's another example of a fanatical few trying to impress their will on other people. The ban infringes on our right to do something (in this case, enjoy foie gras). If they are truly upset about the way the delicacy is produced and the way the animals are treated they should go demonstrate at the farms where it is made. They should pass laws regulating how the animals are treated. They have no moral high ground when they instead choose to penalize people for enjoying the food and damaging the profitability of restaurants the serve it. It this country it is far too comon for small groups to influence lawmakers into passing laws that effect everyone because the simply do not like a particular behavior. This ban should never have passed and it should be challenged and overturned as an infringement on our civil rights. But, of course, that is unlikely because it is such a long and expensive procedure. So, I guess I'll have to making my own foie gras -until the activists find out and ban me too...

Live Long and Prosper....

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