Could The NYC Foie Gras Ban Be Overturned?

Perhaps one of the most controversial delicacies of the 21st century is foie gras. On the surface, foie gras is a pate made from fatty goose or duck liver. However, it's how the liver becomes fatty that has drawn the attention (and ire) of countless animal rights groups.

According to NPR, the liver becomes fatty and enlarged due to a force-feeding process called gavage that "pump[s] the birds' stomachs with more grain over the course of a couple weeks than they would normally eat in a lifetime." During gavage, the birds are fed via tubes inserted into their throats.

Many countries, including Finland, Italy, and Poland, have actually banned the production of foie gras, says Food Navigator. Although foie gras is still legal in the U.S., California has banned foie gras production, and New York recently placed restrictions on foie gras sales. New York chefs, however, remain confident that the restrictions can be overturned. 

High-end chefs are pleading for access to foie gras

NYC is set to ban foie gras come November, the New York Post reports, but many chefs are still fighting for the right to use and sell the delicacy. One chef who spoke to the Post compared the forced feeding of geese and ducks to the "supervised feeding" of cows and chickens. The same chef also reasoned that foie has been around for thousands of years and that America has "bigger issues ... to worry about than foie gras." He and his peers remain convinced that they can repeal the restrictions.

J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats argues that foie gras as a whole can not be judged solely by the worst farms, but rather by the best farms, as the latter is where chefs will buy from. These farms allegedly allow their geese and ducks to roam and don't force them to eat more than they can "physically handle."

Whether or not New York and other states follow through with foie gras bans, lab-grown foie gras might just solve everyone's concerns over animal rights and welfare. Using stem cells from a duck or goose, scientists can grow livers to produce foie gras that they hope will be indistinguishable from the real thing.