Few months ago, I went to a restaurant called Playground in Santa Ana, California. It is a place customers pay to consume what chefs having fun making. Everything was artisan: beers, breads, desserts, and, of course, all the dishes. Waiting staff will tell you a little story on each dish when it was served, “My grandfather had this bread recipe…” When the foie gras dish came up, the waitress said, “Enjoy while you can, this will be banned in a couple of months.” It was delicious, sheared to the perfection, melt in your month with a hint of meaty foul flavor, and sinfully creamy.
Yes, starting July 1st, California banned the selling and production of Foie Gras, the fatty goose liver loved by many. Although the most sweeping, California is pretty late in joining the anti-foie movement. Countries, states, and cities around the world has been banning the production or force-feeding of geese and ducks for decades. It is cruel, said the activists, to force-feed the fouls to enlarge their livers over 10 times the healthy size.
Do ducks prefer eating too much corn and died of liver disease over being slaughtered for their meats? Which one is more painful? Which is more cruel?
On the same day, Seattle banned plastic bags in all super-markets. Technically, they only banned the flimsy kind. A more sturdy kind will cost 10 cents each, paper bags 5 cents. China and many more places have done this years ago.
Americans prefer to use the invisible hand, or the market force, to control social behavior. People consume more if prices are low, less if high. To change behavior, simply change the price. But why would 5 and 10 cents make any difference? The idea seems to utilize other changers of behaviors: the quest for convenience and social acceptance. Paying for those bags is such a bother and using them is wrong: it hurts the earth.
Foie Gras exists because enough people like the taste of them. Bag exists because people need to take grocery home. They are hard to eradicate and therefore market will find ways. Restaurants are talking about giving away Foie Gras free, or offer to cook for the customers who brought the meat in themselves, similar to charging corkage fees when customers bring their own wines. As for bags, people will bring their own. But when they did not, they really have no choices but just pay for the bags. After all, 10 cents are not really beyond affordability. How many you can carry anyway?