Nearly 8 years ago California enacted legislation to ban foie gras from restaurants which went into effect July 1st. The negative press about foie gras has been countered by a number of restaurants, celebrity chefs, and bloggers working to educate the public about foie gras, French for “fatty liver”. These efforts have been met with militant methods that remind one of “correct thinking” from the cultural revolution.
Foie Gras is made when ducks are feed grain and is similar to many of my human patients- a diet rich in processed foods, that they take willingly, and are then sacrificed for their liver (the ducks are sacrificed). The humans end up with Non-Alcoholic Hepatitis and ultimately cirrhosis and either liver transplant or death from liver failure (not a kind or easy death). The ducks and geese, by the way, have similar liver failure as the obese livers of humans, if they are not sacrificed early enough. If the fowl develop cirrhosis and liver failure they are no longer fit to consume. The anti-Foie Gras types like to tell stories of ducks suffering from liver failure – they become comatose, or bleed out, or can’t walk – none of which benefits those who raise the animals for human consumption as those livers are not palatable.
Some California chefs have formed the Coalition for Human and Ethical Farming Standards (CHEFS) to educate the public about how animals are treated. The Anti- Foie Gras side accuses farms of force feeding the ducks and geese, while the other side shows how these creatures are not injured or harmed, and their life is quite good. As the time shortens to the ban, restaurants are offering a foie gras a few last times. One restaurant, Melisse,’s owner and chef Josiah Citrin’s , had a six-course menu with foie gras in every dish, including dessert.
The only California farm producing the foie gras has also been the target of animal rights protests. Artisan Sonoma Foie Gras Farm has operated for over 20 years by Guillermo and Junny Gonzalez who interned in France’s Perigord region before opening their farm in Sonoma. As a result of the ban their business will close, leaving people unemployed.
Bryan Pease, as a candidate, had access to voting roles, which he was not suppose to use for harassment, but indeed used those roles to give the home address of one of CHEF’s members, Daniel R Moody – a chef whose blog danielmoody.com, details the action.
Moody, a chef whose love of food has found his public opinions have brought the ire of Bryan Pease. Moody also points out about a number of restaurants that have been “Yelped” – a technique where an organized group of Pease’s Red Army give negative reviews to restaurants that have served foie gras (even if the patron hasn’t been at the restaurant).
Pease’s organizational techniques are similar to the cultural revolution under Mao from 1966, who would identify those individuals and business that didn’t agree with the “correct thinking” and protest, harass, close down, and ultimately harm members. As such, revealing Moody’s home address has allowed his home to be a target of the “red army” of Pease. Wondering why San Diego would want such a “liberal” on their board?
In the mean time- Americans everywhere are stuffing their livers with processed foods and becoming fatter (Foie Gras, for the record, does not cause fatty liver). But in San Diego- they want to control what you eat, and how you think about it.
It appears the friends of ducks would just as soon you give up your rights of privacy in favor of keeping a duck in the wild (where it will typically die a rather miserable death).
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.