Organizing for an Indelicate Fight

Foie gras is not worth all the fuss, imho. Eaten it a couple of times, and meh. Add in the cruelty involved in producing it, and double meh.

Organizing for an Indelicate Fight

Animal rights activists' influence on Whole Foods Market has led a foie gras producer to file a lawsuit against the natural-food grocery chain.

FRESH from a victory in Chicago, where the City Council voted last week to ban the sale of foie gras, animal rights activists have set their sights on Philadelphia, where they are collecting signatures on a petition to ban the delicacy there. Their influence on Whole Foods Market has led a foie gras producer to file a lawsuit against the natural-food grocery chain.

In the lawsuit, Sonoma Foie Gras is charging Whole Foods with “intentional interference with contract.” According to the complaint, filed in January, Whole Foods told Grimaud Farms last fall to stop processing and distributing Sonoma's ducks and foie gras or the grocer would no longer do business with the company. Grimaud, which sells ducks to Whole Foods, will terminate its contract with Sonoma at the end of this month.

“We have a brighter future with Whole Foods than with the foie gras business,” said Jim Galle, vice president of Grimaud Farms. “We are walking away from a great dollar value, but in the long term I think a better business decision.”

Sonoma Foie Gras says that it has been unable to find another processor and that it might have to shut down. It is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The case will begin on Friday, when a motion to dismiss will be heard.

Whole Foods declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Kate Lowery, a company spokeswoman, confirmed its ultimatum to Grimaud.

“We will not do business with them if they don't terminate their relationship with Sonoma Foie Gras,” she said.

Whole Foods has a written policy not to sell foie gras, Ms. Lowery said, “because of the cruelty,” a reference to the force-feeding of ducks and geese to make their livers grow large and fatty.

Charlie Trotter, who stopped serving foie gras in his eponymous restaurant five years ago because he did not like what he had seen on several foie gras farms, said he is not an animal rights activist but is opposed to interference from the government.

“When I took foie gras off the menu I was not trying to make a political statement,” he said. “I am certainly not gleeful about this. I am very much a libertarian.” And he added: “I don't think government should tell people not to smoke in restaurants.”

This lawsuit is ludicrous, in my mind. Whole Foods should be allowed to do business with whomever they want, and if Grimaud wants to sell their poultry to Whole Foods, they have to stipulate to Whole Foods' conditions.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on May 3, 2006 10:40 AM.

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