Gourmet food business relocates from California to Reno after foie gras ban
The casinos. The ski resorts. The special events. The foie gras?
Reno could capitalize on a potential tourist draw because California has banned selling foie gras, and those who love the gourmet food are willing to travel here to get it, said Laurel Pine, owner and co-founder of Mirepoix USA.
Pine moved her one-woman, Napa Valley-based Internet business selling foie gras, truffles, caviar and other gourmet foods to Reno last year to avoid the ban that would have shut her down.
“If I had stayed in California, not only would I not be able to sell to Californians, I wouldn’t be able to sell to the rest of the United States,” she said.
Foie gras, which is made from fattened goose or duck liver, makes up about 40 percent of her sales, and about 70 percent of her sales occur during the holiday season. She offers more than 40 foie gras products.
A new law, which went into effect on July 1, banned the sale of foie gras within California. Hundreds of restaurants pulled the item from menus, and California stores no longer stock it. California’s only foie gras farm, Sonoma Farm, closed.
The California ban was passed after animal rights activists argued that gavage, the forced feeding of geese and ducks through funnel-like tubes to enlarge their livers, is cruel and inhumane.
But there is no evidence the poultry is harmed during this process, Pine said. It’s a 4,000-year-old process, derived from when the early Egyptians discovered that livers of fattened birds changed to a buttery consistency. France is the largest producer and consumer of the delicacy today.
“Honestly, any animal that is raised for food is probably not living an ideal life because they are going to be killed anyway,” Pine said. “I really don’t think that foie gras is any different than any other animal that is raised for food. I respect people that are against that concept, but foie gras shouldn’t be singled out.”
Fewer than a dozen restaurants in the Reno and Sparks area currently serve foie gras, including Beaujolais Bistro and 4th St. Bistro.
It is legal to possess foie gras in California, allowing individuals to enjoy the product at home. Select products are available for purchase in Reno, Nevada, where Mirepoix USA is now based. Please contact us directly regarding your options. https://www.enjoyfoiegras.com/