Force feeding ducks not inhumane
Even though a statewide ban on foie gras went into effect on July 1, I see that the debate over gravage – the force-feeding of ducks and geese – continues. I’d like to add my own thoughts to the conversation.
The legislators who approved the ban mistakenly thought that producing foie gras was some form of cruelty to animals. Let me be clear. I absolutely abhor the inhumane treatment of any farm animal. But the problem is that some our legislators thought the process of making foie gras was inhumane because they imagined the production process solely from an anthropomorphic point of view. Only one legislator even bothered to go to the duck farm owned by Guillermo Gonzalez, the state’s only foie gras producer, to see the process for himself, and after seeing the process, he voted against banning it.
If the rest of the legislators had bothered to go, and understood it was their natural, anthropomorphic point of view that was forming their opinion, they would probably not have made such an uninformed decision.
The anatomy and morphology of waterfowl is completely different from us anthropoids. Their necks are long and flexible, unlike human necks, which are short and rigid.
Furthermore, the windpipes of ducks are completely separate from their esophagus, whereas humans have them combined down to the back of the throat. That combination of windpipe and esophagus is why we have a built in gag reflex so food cannot go down our windpipe. Ducks do not have a gag reflex because they don’t need it.
The process of producing foie gras involves fattening the ducks during the last two weeks before they are butchered. That process involves filling up their craw with grain through a tube inserted in their throats.
This sounds painful only if you think of it from your own anthropoidal point view. But it is really not painful to the ducks.
Ducks naturally overeat before they go on a long migration. Their necks are designed to hold a lot of food, and that is how foie gras was discovered 5,000 years ago along the Nile river. The inhabitants noticed that if they caught ducks just before they left for a long migration, their livers were more delicious. So by fattening up the ducks right before slaughter, all we humans are doing is replicating this natural pre-migration process. And by the way, the fat livers are reversible.
It is really as simple as that. And since California is looked upon as a leader in the country, shortly after we passed legislation in 2004 to ban the production of foie gras in June of 2012, the city of Chicago followed suit. Again, the aldermen did not even bother to go see the process. Mayor Daley said it was the silliest law ever passed in Chicago and they overturned it two years later. That is exactly what the California legislature should do too. This myth that it is inhumane needs to be stopped before it spreads any further.
So what is next? Would we then ban duck hunting. Ducks don’t die instantly when shot with bird shot. They die slowly and painfully.
Is that humane? Where does this kind of wrong-headedness stop. Would fishing be next?
There are hundreds of thousands of homeless hungry children in the U.S. and millions in the rest of the world, yet these animal rights folks are spending their precious time and energy worrying about how ducks are fed?
We should all be worrying about how poor children are fed.
The foie gras ban has put Mr. Gonzalez out of business, along with those he employed, at a time when the California jobless rate remains mired at 10.8 percent. Mr. Gonzalez came to this country, worked hard and now, 24 years later, his reward for working hard and building a business is zero.
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Wendell Williams is a Sonoma resident and former Congressional candidate.