Frankly, I was very surprised to read this essay and the somewhat casual dismissal of the dismal lives of the magnificent animals who are used to produce foie gras. Just because "Almost all meat production in the United States is cruel" does not mean that force-feeding animals is not cruel or necessarily less cruel, and indeed, this is an integral part of the big picture of food production; it does not "miss the big picture" at all. Mr. Bittman's dictum should be soundly rejected, especially, perhaps, from the animals' point of view.
Furthermore, just because foie gras is statistically insignificant and "itself just isn't that important" according to Mr. Bittman, this does not mean we should not be extremely concerned with the utterly cruel ways in which it is produced and the lifting of the California ban. We must be concerned with the well-being of every single individual who, or animal product that, winds up in our mouth. I'm sure the sentient geese or ducks who are used to produce a thoroughly non-essential pricey delicacy, the victims of savage gavage - force-feeding against their will - don't feel it's a non-issue. And, because they will eat just about anything, does not mean they like having food violently shoved down their throat.