Law For Food: The law affects what you eat. What you buy to eat affects the law.

Undecided about Fois Gras

The Real Potato sums up the moral dimensions of fois gras remarkably well:

“I’ll be honest with you: I’m undecided on this issue. Here are my biases: I’m generally horrified by the conditions of commercial meat production…. I’m deeply suspicious of animal rights groups: I’ve worked on the political left for many years and have often found them shrill, dogmatic, and elitist. I’m also suspicious of business owners who scream ‘Communism!’ every time City Council introduces a bill…. I’m not a vegetarian (that’s another post) but I think that there are big problems with the way meat is consumed in the mainstream American diet. I’m generally in favor of any food that’s produced by hand, by skilled artisans working in a centuries-old craft. I think foie gras is delicious, but while I’m normally in favor of democratizing good food and getting delicious things out to the masses, I tend to think that foie gras should stay expensive– it should continue to be produced artisanally rather than becoming another factory product, which would bring in a high level of cruelty, as well as low safety standards.” (Emphasis added.)

This is just it, and this is the uneasy tension that a lot of us in the food world seem to have: producing things responsibly takes time and labor. Time and labor are expensive. I think this is what Carlos Petrini was getting at when he criticized the Ferry Farmer’s Market a few months back. Ethical, sustainable food shouldn’t just be for people with trust funds and portfoilos, because good food is a universal value.

In Food Politics, Marion Nestle writes about how traditional regional diets, high in plants and carbs but with occasional meats and other proteins added in, provide the best balance of calories and nutrients. Regrettably, she also notes that when due to economic success, a traditional diet becomes meat-heavy, it never reverts back to its earlier form voluntarily.

As I noted in the comments below, the farm subsidies have the effect of ensuring that the meat-heavy U.S. diet remains meat-heavy. This requires factory farming and industrial processes. As Americans, it goes against our nature to feel comfortable with the idea that poor people shouldn’t be able to eat meat if they want to. Ultimately, though, the costs of democratizing the meat-heavy diet are high, and should be considered.


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Thanks for the link! You’re now on my blogroll as well. 🙂

Comment by therealpotato

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