Mark Bittman's recent column on California's overturn of the state's foie gras ban is, for lack of a better term, weird. Really weird.
The gist is that Bittman thinks we're paying too much attention to the cruelty of foie gras - "the most overrated of luxury ingredients"- while ignoring the reality that the vast majority of animal agriculture is cruel. In and of itself, this claim seems sensible. But it's the way that Bittman makes his case that ultimately turns his column into a (perhaps unintended) defense of foie gras.
My first contention has to do with Bittman's main argument. He thinks we miss the big picture of widespread animal cruelty when we focus on the small picture of an exclusive animal product. It makes more sense, he suggests, for consumers to muster outrage against the way cows, pigs, and chickens are treated before getting worked up about something as upper-shelf as foie gras. Why, in other words, should we protest the 600,000 ducks killed every year when more than that many chickens are killed every hour in the United States? "Let's get our priorities straight," he writes.