"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Foie Gras Journalism at Its Finest

For a couple of years, foie gras was my number-one issue as an animal activist. I opposed the cruel manner in which ducks and geese were force-fed such that their livers grew tenfold. I participated in countless protests for the "Foie Gras-Free Pittsburgh" campaign, which got approximately a dozen restaurants to stop selling foie gras. I wrote a song, designed a leaflet, drafted press releases, was interviewed by two Pittsburgh newspapers, inspired a yet-to-be-published novel when an author saw a protest, and came up with one of my all-time favorite protest ideas. As part of the heated "foie gras war" in Pittsburgh, someone once spray-painted "F*** Michael Croland" and "[Another activist] is a duckwh*re" on the sidewalk. I wrote letters to the editor, blog posts, op-eds, and a feature article about foie gras for Newsday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, and 10 other publications; two of those pieces helped me win The Humane Society of the United States' 2004 Student Genesis Award. Particularly for my New Voices article, I tried to hear from both sides; I interviewed Michael Ginor and Izzy Yanay of Hudson Valley Foie Gras and read Ginor's book, Foie Gras: A Passion. By the end of this phase of my life, I had ever-more questions about foie gras, I toyed with the idea of visiting Hudson Valley, and I concluded that other factory-farming issues were more deserving of activists' time and resources.

Suffice it to say that I've had a lot of background with this issue. With that being said, I tip my hat to Mark Caro for The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World's Fiercest Food Fight, which was published by Simon & Schuster earlier this month. Caro, a longtime Chicago Tribune reporter, gives an informative and brilliantly evenhanded account of activists' opposition to foie gras, the foie gras industry's defense, and the legal, political, and activist battles that have ensued in recent years. This book adheres to the highest journalistic standards for covering an issue with such differing viewpoints. Click here to read yesterday's interview with Caro in Time.

The book talks about many Jewish connections to the foie gras debate, going far beyond my 2005 post about that topic. It includes thorough interview excerpts with Ginor and Yanay, who became enchanted with foie gras in Israel, and Jewish GourmetCruelty.com activists Sarahjane Blum and Ryan Shapiro. It provides an in-depth look at the ruling by Israel's High Court of Justice to ban foie gras, which includes a discussion about tza'ar ba'alei chayim.

The Foie Gras Wars mentions some outlandish dishes that you would never expect to be made with foie gras (even after reading about Oreo-like "Foiereos" in Foie Gras: A Passion), including foie gras gnocchi and cotton candy. Thankfully, it seems that Ginor's proposed foie gras matzoh balls never came to fruition.


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