So after telling you we gave Michael chicken nuggets for his school lunch I started to think about about a scene from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Episode back in 2010 where he tries to convince a group of children that chicken nuggets are gross. Basically, he throws a chicken carcass into a blender, makes some patties with the mush, adds some junk to make it taste good, covers it in bread crumbs and fries it. I think most rational people who watched the episode reacted the same way I did – “That is disgusting!” And to my horror the children happily ate those chicken nuggets. Here’s a refresher:
I have never been a chicken nugget fan myself, I cannot even remember asking my parents to buy me chicken nuggets. I was more of a burger kind of gal, but chicken nuggets are a staple of many toddlers, youth and adult diets – I know because my husband and his brothers like to eat them. I personally think they don’t taste like chicken (any amens out there?), but they are sooooo lovable! Our kids love them, heck my adult relatives love them! Does the fact that we know they are not good for us stop us from buying them? No, they are like a crazy addiction that we can’t deny or explain. It’s like my addiction to diet coke – I know it’s making me fatter but I can’t seem to stop drinking it and it drives me bonkers!
In these cases, knowledge is power. The more we know, the better decisions we can make about the food we eat and feed our children. Remember the uproar about Pink Slime? Again, it’s Jamie Oliver that made it real for us:
Ignorance is bliss. So long as we didn’t know about Pink Slime we happily ate it, fed it to our families and allowed our schools to serve it for lunch. Essentially, we let ranchers sell us inedible meat really cheap by adding crap to it.
But have you looked inside your chicken nuggets?
“Good Ingredients, Good Food” Claims McDonald website. When you look at the Q&A on the quality of their meats it claims “The only meat used in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets is chicken breast meat.”
Yes, the only meat is chicken, but that’s not all that’s in your chicken nugget. The ingredient list for the “meat” part is actually: White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid], sodium phosphates, natural flavor (botanical source). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
Now, you don’t need a masters degree to know that chicken nuggets should be little more than chicken, flour, salt & pepper, panko and maybe some other seasoning, but the “chicken” part of this chicken nugget has 13+ ingredients. The breading has 21 ingredients and it’s “prepared” in 7 ingredients, including this mysterious TBHQ, which is lethal to humans in the amount of 5g – apparently you have to eat 11lbs of chicken nuggets to get 1g so you’re safe dude. Now I could write a lot about some of these ingredients, but then this post would get long and boring, so I’ll move on to the more important issue: What can we do?
First, I don’t know about you, but I am too darn busy to make a load of fresh chicken nuggets to keep a stash in the freezer. I have other things to do – like 20 loads of laundry, okay? I am not superwoman or supermom. Fresh chicken nuggets come around about once every 8 – 10 weeks in our house and Michael wouldn’t even touch the darn things the first 20 times I tried giving them to him; he insisted on those precut, preformed versions from the store or drive-thru.
So we buy “better” chicken nuggets and I hope you will too.
These still have a lot of ingredients, but at least I recognize all of them and they have whole grains to boot. This is our go-to chicken nugget and the good thing is we can get 5lbs for about 12 bucks – not too shabby for the frugal family looking to feed their kids a better chicken nugget.