French respond to foie ban with call for CA wine boycott

July 12, 2012 7:36:22 PM PDT
California's recent ban on foie gras is making waves internationally. The French produce two-thirds of the foie gras sold around the world and now, a government official in a small region of France known for the delicacy is calling on all restaurants in his country to stop serving California wine in retaliation for the new law.

Restaurant owners and retailers in California who oppose the ban understand the sentiment.

"The law has already put out of business one small company," retailer Darrell Corti said. "Who is the next small company to be put of business by the law?"

The state's foie gras ban took effect July 1 after animal rights activists successfully convinced lawmakers that force-feeding ducks and geese through a tube to fatten their liver was cruel.

They're fine with the boycott because France doesn't really import a lot California wine.

"If I had to choose between a bottle of delicious California wine and some fatty, diseased liver that came from some French farm where they were tortured, I think most people would find that an easy call to make," Humane Society of the United States spokesperson Jennifer Fearing said.

The food fight is reminiscent of a 2003 call in the U.S. to rename French fries "Freedom Fries" after France refused to support the U.S. position on Iraq.

It's not just the French who are retaliating. Some within California are openly thumbing their nose at the law. One Mountain View restaurant is still serving foie gras, offering it for free if customers buy the pricey tasting menu. And San Francisco's Presidio Social Club restaurant is also dishing it up, claiming it's on federal land and exempt from state laws.

At the California State Fair wine tasting, people are wondering why this is even happening.

"That's their loss; Napa has some of the finest wines," California wine enthusiast Kimberly Hodge said.

"For the good of the industry and for the good of sharing good wine, don't boycott it," California wine enthusiast Benjamin Johnson said.

"It's ridiculous; we should be able to eat what we want to eat in restaurants we go to and drink what we want to drink wherever we want to," California wine enthusiast Jane Holton said.

A lawsuit to block enforcement of the foie gras ban is still pending. It claims restaurants and distributors don't know how the bird was fed, let alone whether it was forced.


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