I stopped into Camino for dinner to check out the current menu. It has been almost a year since I had dinner at one of my favorite East Bay haunts and wrote a review, and it is still as good as ever. While I was studying the menu, I started with one of the house special cocktails, a Leopold’s martini with orange bitters (outstanding) and an appetizer of Fried Oysters and Torpedo Onions. For dinner I had:
-Fresh garbanzo beans, mashed beets and summer squash with pounded basil
-Grilled local squid and new potato with pounded wild nettles
-Grilled pork leg and slow pork shoulder with grits, rapini and roasted figs
Everything was great, and as you know I always love fresh garbanzo beans, and my only complaint would be that the pork leg was a little tough. I pared everything with a St. Innocent Pinot Noir “Momtazi Vineyard”, from the Willamette Valley.
Food politics can be a rather unappetizing subject, but with the ban on foie gras in California taking place on July 1st, 2012, it is far too important to ignore.
The heart of the argument comes down to this simple question: Is the act of force feeding (gavage) a goose or duck humane or inhumane? There are many arguments for and against (see links below), but most of the research shows that gavage is not inhumane. One can argue (and the animal activists do) that the killing of any animal for food is considered inhumane. “Farm-raised duck is one of the most efficient, productive and sustainable forms of animal agriculture”- Guillermo Gonzalez- Somoma Artisan Foie Gras (via SFGate).
The reason this subject has created so much controversy from people beyond just the foodies and the animal rights activists, is because it’s not just about duck and goose liver, but about government intrusion and stripping away peoples freedom. I do believe we need to have government regulations for our food supply chain for the greedy businesses that will do anything for a profit, but by targeting a small artisan food product like foie gras, you’re pissing off the largest contingent of humane and sustainable farming supporters in the food industry: the chefs and the foodies.
Going after a defenseless foie gras farmer is an easy target for the activists, but there are much bigger problems in our food production system that should be getting more attention. Industrialized farming is causing so much harm to the environment, and the human body, but gets very little press. The American food system is very broken and If people want to start making small changes, you can start by buying your food from local farms that are known for sustainable practices and not from industrialized farms that are often being subsidized by our government.
Foie Gras is a delicacy that isn’t mass produced but enjoyed by many people, including myself, on infrequent occasions. I will take a hiatus from eating foie gras in California for now, but only until it gets repealed as it did in Chicago, when the then mayor deemed it as “the silliest law” the City Council has ever passed.
Against Foie Gras:
As the first day of summer is upon us, in comes the early arrival of summer produce we usually don’t see until later into the season. Here I made a “Three Bean Salad” with Romano Beans, Cranberry Beans, Yellow Wax Beans, with red bell peppers, spring onions, and herbs. A great dish to welcome the beginning of Summer.