Looks like the AAA is taking a stand.
Not the Auto Club --- the Austrian-Americans Against ... some animal cruelty.
First Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning the sale and production of foie gras in California in a few years. Now his countryman, uber-chef Wolfgang Puck, is also saying ''nein'' to foie gras and to lobsters kept in crowded holding tanks, and ''ja'' to free-range veal and eggs.
At the end of the day, the calves are still killed and the lobsters are still cut in half. Pigs and cows are still menu mainstays, as they are across America and Europe. But it is a great beginning.
Its larger significance is that Puck's food chain of restaurants and menus, starting with the flagship Spago, then his casual-dining places and his catering outlets, will set a standard for other restaurants and chefs, and let diners know they can make a cruelty-free choice. Animal humane groups had crusaded to persuade Puck to change his methods, but he says that had nothing to do with it -- that it's a way to celebrate Spago's 25th anniversary, to show "what we're really going to stand for over the next 25 years."
Schwarzenegger surprised almost everyone some time back by signing the no-foie-gras bill; foie gras, which requires the shocking force-feeding of the bird, has already been banned in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Israel and Denmark, among other nations.
On my radio program, Puck explained, "I'm concerned about everybody's well-being, including the animals' ... we should know how we treat what we eat." [Want to hear it straight from the chef's mouth? And compare the way he pronounces Schwarzenegger's signature word, "fantastic"? Click away:]