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.