There's a brief item in the February 12 issue of New York magazine-nauseatingly entitled "Ommm vs. Yummm"-in which Geoffrey Gray tells of a meeting at Jivamukti Yoga in Manhattan. The subject of this meeting is foie gras (pronounced fwah grah) or more specifically: how this alleged epicurean indulgence is made. "Aint' no yogis eating foie gras," declares Hip-hop mogul and longtime vegan, Russell Simmons. "It's barbaric, it's crazy."
Foie gras (French for "fatty liver") is a $20 million a year business in New York State and a single producer like Hudson Valley Foie Gras, for example, slaughters 6000 ducks a week. Geoffrey Gray betrays his bias by characterizing foie gras as "rich, velvety, and controversial bird livers." Simmons, as you might imagine, sees things a just a little differently. "I sit here and watch people eat steak and eat foie gras and do stupid sh*t all day long," he says. "I'm really not an angry vegan, but human beings are f*cking rude."
The local anti-foie gras protests, for now, will focus on Fairway supermarkets in but Fairway partner Steven Jenkins told New York that the "foie gras weirdos" are "doing nothing more than preying on the guilt-ridden liberals of the Upper West Side."
Besides his laughably flawed appraisal of the radical potential of Upper West Side liberals, Jenkins is also dead wrong with his "doing nothing more" dismissal. Dedicated activists-from coast to coast-are shining a light on an utterly repellent practice. Here's how the Farm Sanctuary describes the foie gras process: "At just a few months old, ducks are confined inside dark sheds and force-fed enormous amounts of food several times a day. A farm worker grabs each duck and, one by one, thrusts a metal pipe down their throats so that a mixture of corn can be forced directly into their gullets. In just a matter of weeks, the ducks become grossly overweight and their livers expand up to 10 times their normal size." (For more, don't miss this video.)
"About 10 percent of the ducks don't make it to slaughter," says vegetarian activist, Pamela Rice, "They die when their stomachs burst."
To a veterinarian, the ensuing human-induced disorder is called "hepatic lipidosis." To a gourmet chef, these fattened, diseased livers are called "foie gras."
Foie gras is a disease...not a delicacy.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.