by Joanna Shaw Flamm
When the people behind Bed Stuy’s Do or Dine (which we profiled here a few weeks ago) put a Foie Gras donut on the menu, they probably weren’t anticipating the kind of publicity they got. According to Gothamist, an anti-foie-gras-donut petition started by vegan blogger Annie Hartnett has received over 900 signatures…and a whole lot of press.
Eater posted this screenshot of Do or Dine’s inbox:
The donuts were made with help from the folks at nearby Dough, and chef-owner Justin Warner told Gothamist that, at $11 a piece:
“I’m lucky if I serve 30 doughnuts a week—we’re not exactly cranking them out over here. People all over the world are signing this petition, condemning us, telling us we’re monsters, but the one percent of people who are actually coming here and eating them are pretty jazzed.”
Of course, a counter-petition has been signed by 292 foie-gras-donut fans, who explain:
“It would be cruel to stop making them several times a day before I have a chance to come and try them. They sound like the kind of thing I’d want to eat enough of that I’d be engorged to ten times my healthy size. But I’m willing to suffer for donuts.”
On a more serious note, Village Voice blogger Rebecca Marx points out the tunnel vision many animal rights activists seem to have when it comes to restaurants.
“Why not take your rhetoric and banners to establishments that use meat grown in misery and squalor on factory farms? Because unlike foie gras, a high-end commodity that is used at only a small percentage of the city’s restaurants, factory-farmed animals are eaten at, oh, just about everywhere. Compared with the average factory farm, the average foie gras farm looks like Canyon Ranch.”
Although they’ve made no commitments one way or the other, Warner said that their menu changes regularly, implying that the donuts may not be around forever.
Co-owner Luke Jackson tells Grubstreet:
“We’re not married to having the item on the menu, but we’re definitely married to doing what we want to do,” says co-owner Luke Jackson. He adds: “This petition was started by a young woman in Main [sic]. She has no idea what our business is; she knows nothing about this community nor what we’re trying to do.”
So what is a conscientious foodie to do? Sorry to say, but you’re going to have to (as our moms used to say) use your good judgement. Spend a minute or two on Google and read about the American farms producing foie, such as Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Think about your food philosophy in general: what boundaries do I need to set? Where can I make a difference? What am I not going to worry about? Then, vote with your wallet. Want grass-fed beef? Patronize restaurants that serve it and stop buying the CAFO stuff. Concerned about sustainable fishing? Only buy sustainable fish. As a consumer, we can scream and holler all we want, but the best way for us to be heard is with our cold, hard cash. So go buy a donut, or don’t go buy a donut, but do it for reasons you understand.