You Will Let Us Know When Those Ducks Stop Screaming, Traci

Okay, we’re going to save the roundups for food section/weeklies day tomorrow, but there’s this one blog entry that kind of pricked up our ears just because of the tragic news that preceded it:

Newlywed Ryan Tate reports that, four years after Jardiniere stopped serving foie gras in the wake of vandalism against Aqua chef Laurent Manrique, the Western-Addition staple has put the controversial duck-liver-paste back on its menu. Way back in 2003, Jardiniere chef Traci Des Jardins said she had stopped serving the dish because she toured a foie gras farm back in 1995 and, ever since, has been “haunted by the image of those ducks.”

So maybe she got over it, but the news resonated with us because of another item we picked up last week in the New York Times Diners Journal: “Foie gras producers and animal rights activists agree on one thing: A fire that killed 15,000 breeding ducks at the Hudson Valley Foie Gras company in upstate New York on Tuesday was tragic,” the Journal reported Nov. 1.

Seems the fire was likely set by an electrical short-circuit, and was so deadly because of the large amount of ducks crammed into the rented warehouse. An animal rights group called Farm Sanctuary took up a campaign against foie gras in New York, just as the activists in San Francisco did four years back.

Well, we’re not going to take a position on this particular appetizer, but it seems to us that any large-scale farming operation necessarily poses the same fire/safety hazard to the livestock. Most chickens and other fowl, even the so-called cage-free ones, are raised crammed together in big, warehouse-type buildings. Most four-legged beasts are at least finished in similar conditions.

Fire codes don’t generally account for the safety of large numbers of animals. Outlawing foie gras may help alleviate the fire hazard posed to ducks being raised for that purpose, but other animals would be at just as much risk as they were before. Similarly, animals being raised in inhumane conditions for purposes aside from foie gras production will still be treated inhumanely if chefs give up that particular dish.

Meanwhile, the decision to put the pate back on the menu at Jardiniere smacks of the heat dying down. Frankly, we’d like to see a bit of consistency among both animal rights activists and chefs. Both sides make important points and neither side’s credibility is enhanced by flip-flopping.

Foie Gras is Back at Jardiniere [Covers]

15,000 Ducks Killed [New York Times Diners Journal]

You Will Let Us Know When Those Ducks Stop Screaming, Traci