New York City Bans Foie Gras

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Perigord goose bred for the production of Foie Gras roaming around a farm in Dordogne, France

Pierre Longnus / Getty Images

One thousand restaurants will have to take it off their menus by 2022.

New York City has followed in California's footsteps and voted to ban the sale and production of foie gras by 2022. The French luxury food has long been a target for animal rights activists who are concerned about the cruelty inherent in the production process. Geese are force-fed a fatty corn mush that grows the liver up to ten times its normal size over the course of 20 days. Animal activists say this procedure "can leave ducks too big to walk or even breathe before they are slaughtered."

The result is a fatty liver that is much sought-after by high-end restaurateurs and diners, who are willing to pay top dollar for its silky texture and rich taste – up to $125 for a 90-gram liver. But exposing production methods hasn't done enough to turn people off foie gras; demand is still there and it continues to be served at 1,000 restaurants in New York City, so activists hope this new ban will put an end to its consumption, once and for all.

Not surprisingly, reactions have been mixed and emotional. The New York Times quoted chef-owner Marco Moreira of acclaimed restaurant Tocqueville: "New York is the mecca of dining in the world. How is it possible that New York doesn’t have foie gras? What’s next? No more veal? No more mushrooms?" He accused animal rights activists of "taking letters from the alphabet – they will take something out of our kitchen vocabulary that’s integral to the restaurant."

Others think it's long overdue. The bill's sponsor, Carlina Rivera, calls foie gras "one of the most violent practices [in the commercial food industry] and it's done for a purely luxury product." Rivera also says that farmers in upstate New York won't be harmed by the ban as they "produce dozens of other products," despite the farmers themselves saying they'll lose 30 percent of their business. Farmers claim activists blow the fattening process, known as 'gavage', out of proportion and that "claims of torture are exaggerated."

The ban won't take effect for another three years, so there will be time for farmers and restaurants to phase it out – and for diners to lose their taste for it.