The foie gras debate is heating up as certain protestors have adopted bullying tactics, sometimes illegal, to get their point across. And certain food industry professionals are sick of it. In an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Pastore, the owner of Incanto restaurant, condemns the use of "violent rhetoric." Pastore offers several examples of chefs and researchers that have been threatened and bullied by foie gras opponents. These incidents sometimes resulted in illegal actions, including arson and vandalism. He writes:
Sadly, not everyone understands the line between rhetoric and action. Gay bashing, abortion clinic bombings, and the murder of doctors who perform abortions have all been preceded by use of violent rhetoric intended to dehumanize the target. It's not possible to achieve a more humane world by using violent language to score political points. Doing so creates a legacy of hate, not humanity.
Pastore's partner, chef Chris Cosentino, has received death threats against him and his family.
Anthony Bourdain echoed Pastore's sentiments Friday in a series of remarks on Twitter:
While chefs have campaigned against the California law that bans the sale of foie gras beginning in July, their campaigns have been non-violent and mostly take the form of petitions, foie gras dinners and speaking to the media.
Of course, not all foie gras opponents employ violent tactics. But as is the case with any contentious political issue, the vocal minority tends to silence the views of other opinions worth sharing.
There's a reason feedlot beef was included in the Center for Science and Public Interest's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/the-terrible-10-worst-aspects_n_1010696.html#s408669&title=Feedlot_Beef" target="_hplink">"Terrible 10."</a> Raising animals for industrial slaughter can be harmful to the environment (pollution from methane gas), the animals (often raised in tight conditions) and humans (risks of E. coli).
Large-scale chicken farms are often just as frightening as beef. If you haven't seen <em><a href="http://www.foodincmovie.com/" target="_hplink">Food, Inc.</a></em> the film remains just a relevant, if not more, since it debuted several years ago.
Bluefin tuna is probably the most widely-cited example of overfishing. The fish are caught are<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/atlantic-bluefin-tuna-twice-quota_n_1017314.html" target="_hplink"> way above</a> the quota with <a href="http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/more-about-disappearing-fish/" target="_hplink">little evidence of recovery</a> for the stock.
California seems to be on a bit of a food ban spree recently, but we commend the move to ban the sale of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/07/shark-fin-trade-banned-california_n_1000906.html" target="_hplink">shark fin</a>, used in a popular Chinese soup. "The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans," said governor Jerry Brown.
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/07/girl-scouts-cookies-palm-oil-campaign_n_998437.html" target="_hplink">Girl Scouts may have recently pledged to reduce the amount of palm oil</a> in their famous cookies, but that is only one drop in the bucket. Non-sustainably-sourced palm oil destroys rainforests, and threatens the habitats of animals that live there.
GOOD didn't beat around the bush with its recent post, "<a href="http://www.good.is/post/child-slaves-made-your-halloween-candy-stop-buying-it/" target="_hplink">Child Slaves Made Your Halloween Candy. Stop Buying It</a>." Makes you think twice about stocking up on all those Reese's.
Farmed salmon just doesn't sound appetizing anymore thanks to the prevalence of sea lice and various diseases that can affect farmed salmon. To make matters worse, such infestations are <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/science/18salmon.html?_r=2&src=tp" target="_hplink">now affecting wild salmon</a> as well.
There's nothing wrong with allowing children the occasional bag of Cheetos. But given the staggering level of obesity in American children, it seems ridiculous to be marketing these products directly at children. Of course, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donald-cohen/marketing-junk-food-to-kids_b_999376.html" target="_hplink">marketers see otherwise</a>.