I had the pleasure of hearing Alderman Bernie Stone of the 50th Ward speak last night at the Builders Group Meeting. He doubted his building committee would the attention it merited from the media and expected the headlines to reflect foie gras. In fact, he doubted it would be found in today's papers. Due to my non-interest in the time and energy being spent on duck livers, I almost missed it. But, at least an attempt was made tag the more important quality of life issue for humans and neighborhoods at the end of the article. Thanks Mr. Washburn, may we please have some plain old meat and potatoes with your next column? We'd like to read more on this proposal. We'd like to read what our alderman will spearhead for the North of Howard area.
We're waiting to hear fresh stories of 'how it is' not 'how it was'.
We're waiting to see what the plan is to balance North of Howard. In fact, some have been waiting for years. We're waiting for Howard Street rejuvination, waiting for the Field House, we're waiting for the next census. Seems all we do up here is wait. Seems we're not really part of the 49th Ward, did we secede from the City?
Foie gras on city's chopping block
Panel hears how it's made, moves to ban it
By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 26, 2005
After hearing a Hollywood actress compare the production of a delicacy made from the livers of geese and ducks to abuses at a notorious Iraqi prison, a City Council committee on Tuesday advanced a measure that would make Chicago a foie gras-free zone.
Only three farms in the U.S. produce foie gras, none of them in Illinois. And Ald. Joe Moore (49th), sponsor of the measure to ban its sale, acknowledged that "no more than a dozen or so" restaurants here probably have it on their menus.
But "laws are reflections of our values and morals," he asserted.
Moore hailed preliminary approval of the prohibition by the council's Health Committee, saying it will result in "fewer ducks and geese being tortured to create this product." And he said a ban here would "send a clear message" to other cities and states that may decide to consider similar measures.
The committee heard a New York veterinarian and activist describe how feeding pipes are "jammed down the esophaguses" of terrified birds that are force-fed three times a day to make their livers 10 times normal size to produce foie gras.
And committee members viewed a graphic video of bloodied birds that had undergone the process.
"If I sound a little out of breath, I am always overwhelmed listening to stories of abuse and torture," said actress and animal-rights advocate Loretta Swit, who testified in support of the ban.
The former star of the "M*A*S*H" television series contended that there are ties between what happened at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, where inmates were abused by U.S. soldiers, and what happens to ducks and geese whose livers are harvested for foie gras.
"Violence begets violence," she said. "Brutality begets brutality."
But Didier Durand, chef and owner at Cyrano's Bistrot, 546 N. Wells St., insisted that "there is no torture" in the production of the delicacy. And he told the skeptical aldermen that it is healthy to eat. Durand attributed low cholesterol levels and a low incidence of heart attacks in his native region of France to consumption of foie gras, which he said he sells to about 30 customers a week.
Cyrano's charges $15 for three-ounce servings.
Carrie Nahabedian, owner of Naha, 500 N. Clark St., predicted that a Chicago ban simply would push foie gras lovers to suburban restaurants, and she said that a prohibition could send the council "down a slippery slope" leading to regulation of other food.
"It does set precedents, and it is important outside the city of Chicago," said Marcus Henley of Ferndale, N.Y.'s Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Duck Products.
Henley gave committee members packets with what he said was scientific evidence that birds are not abused in foie gras production, and he invited an inspection.
"If there is doubt remaining, visit the farm," he urged.
But the aldermen were unmoved, and the ban proposal now goes to the full council for a vote next week.
In other City Hall action, the council's Buildings Committee advanced an ordinance designed to crack down on owners of slum buildings despite fears by some aldermen that the measure goes too far.
In some cases, a city order could clear the way for the seizure of a dilapidated apartment building or home whose owner fails to correct problems.