Monday, March 23, 2020

Foie gras and NY farm workers

The NY Times ran this story:

A Luxury Dish Is Banned, and a Rural County Reels
The ban protects animals and slaps wealthy gourmands. But upstate, hundreds of low-wage immigrant laborers are bracing for the impact.
By John Leland, Photographs by Desiree Rios

"Last October, when the New York City Council passed a ban on foie gras as inhumane, Mayor Bill de Blasio called foie gras “a luxury item that the vast majority of us would never be able to afford.”
"But two hours northwest of the city, in one of New York’s poorest counties, foie gras plays a much different role. There it is not a luxury splurge but a domino in a fragile local economy. Almost all of the foie gras produced in the United States comes from two duck farms in Sullivan County, where about 400 workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America, rely on it for their livelihood.

"Locals say that New York City’s ban, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2022, threatens all the businesses connected with the two farms, from the neighboring farms that supply feed for the ducks to the machine shops that repair agricultural equipment, from the small truckers to the local markets and restaurants that cater to the Spanish-speaking workers.
"Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the larger of the two farms, is a sprawling artifact of an earlier disruption, on the site of three former egg farms, which closed when the advent of interstate highways made it cheaper for city stores to get eggs from industrial farms elsewhere.
"Opponents of foie gras call the force-feeding process cruel. It’s already banned in IndiaIsrael and BritainWhole Foods stopped selling the product in 1997, and Postmates stopped delivering it in 2018. The American Veterinary Medical Association takes a neutral position, citing a lack of evidence that birds are harmed by the process, though many veterinarians disagree.
"Already hurting from a ban in California, which they say cut their sales by 20 percent, Hudson Valley hired a politically connected lobbying firm, Bolton-St. Johns, and a publicity firm, Millennial Strategies, which represents Lyft, Juul and Starbucks. 

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