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Posts tagged ‘chicken nuggets’

Even if it is Chicken…

Most of the time, I get inspired to write based on what I read, and this is no exception. I saw this article about “What is in a chicken nugget?” and it raised some good points. Some researchers picked two random food chains and sampled their nuggets. Spoiler alert, there’s no smoking gun here. They found processed chicken, i.e. not cubes of white meat, but ground up bits of stuff, including bone, gut and skin. We all know about the “pink slime” by now, the process by which they take all the usable bits of meat, including mechanically separating the meat and adding some nasty disinfectants so we don’t get sick from eating it. This mixture is formed and cooked to make nuggets, but it is no worse or different than modern hot dog or sausage preparation. No, I don’t eat any of those things for the most part. I eat our own venison sausage, but that’s about it.

The article was very good in the points it raised, and it’s even handedness. They mentioned small sample sizes aren’t representative of the whole. That’s why anecdotal evidence is so bad- just because one person had an experience, doesn’t mean you can extrapolate it to everyone. Just because Nick Walenda can walk across Niagara falls doesn’t mean we all can. This is important when we talk about science.

They mentioned that even if some food places are using real white meat chicken, it is still breaded and fried. This is important because you don’t need a hideous chemical cocktail to have something be bad for you. Breading and frying leads to those round tummies we all despise. Just because something isn’t awful for you doesn’t mean it is good for you. Weight control is important on many levels.

The last point they made that piqued my interest is how enticing the nuggets are. One of the huge problems with our modern diet is that some of the worst foods for you are so very, very attractive. Large companies are employing researchers to design foods to make them as desirable as possible. From an enjoyment perspective it’s hard to see why that’s a bad thing, until you are trying to watch your weight and finding resisting them so very, very hard. Even if they improve the quality of the nuggets, they are still going to be a high calorie item that entices you to over eat. People love to say “everything in moderation”, but what is moderation? Once a week? A month? And if you moderate the nuggets to once a month, what does the rest of your month look like? Are you having this or that “only once in awhile”, but there is another this or that every day?

Anyway, this was a good article, fun to poke at the food industry and take a look at what makes good science at the same time.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!! They just don’t get it!

Please tell me they got it wrong. I heard about this story on Fox News, and the initial story left out one crucial detail, one that I quote and cite below. Before I get to the crux of the matter, even the initial scan of the story makes me shake my head.

A North Carolina preschooler came to school with a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips – and her lunch was promptly replaced with chicken nuggets from the cafeteria.

According to reports, a state agent who was inspecting lunch boxes that day decided the girl’s packed lunch did not have enough nutritional value.  A regulation put into place by the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires that all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs meet federal nutritional guidelines.

If a child’s home-packed lunch does not meet the standards, child care providers are instructed to supplement the lunch with missing items.

Wh-wh-what? Turkey- low fat protein source, vitamins and minerals.
Cheese-calcium, protein, some vitamins.
Banana-C’mon, since when is fruit not good enough?

Now, I’m not thrilled with chips and apple juice, I could quibble with that, but what 4 year old would plow through all that anyway? It’s what they said they replaced it with, on the basis of what she sent wasn’t nutritious enough. Chicken nuggets. Have we not gone through this enough? Did not Jamie Oliver try to show kids why they shouldn’t be eating those? But what is the point if the cafeteria can’t figure it out and somehow thinks they are more nutritious than a turkey and cheese sandwich. It is so ludicrous that I can’t fathom it. Maybe, just maybe, these nuggets are real chicken, not “pink paste”. Still, they are breaded and fried. Is that what we want to teach our children is nutritious? I desperately want to think that they got it wrong, that some editor threw the nuggets in to inflame people like me. After seeing what our school cafeteria served my kids, I can’t assume that. Our school thought bread sticks with marinara sauce was good as a serving as grain and vegetables. And people wonder why I get so animated?

*Sigh* I’ll wipe the spittle off my chin and calm down. It just means I have more work to do.

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