Saturday, January 21st, 2012
There is an infamous picture that has been floating around the Internet since 2010 of what appears to be pink soft serve ice cream. Then you click on the picture and are told it is how McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are made; eyeballs, brains, and all.
Ew, gross! Right?
But when you go to the fact-checking website Snopes.com, you learn that while the picture does indeed feature “mechanically separated chicken,” this is not a photograph of actual Chicken McNuggets being made.
I wanted to see what McDonald’s website had to say about all this. Sure enough, there is actually a page called “Response to Chicken McNugget Rumors.” They don’t address how exactly they make their nuggets, but instead focus on rumors about the ingredients in them:
“We welcome the conversation about our food. What’s really important is that people have the truth & facts. The truth is, our Chicken McNuggets are made with 100% USDA Grade A Chicken.”
Well said. The chicken itself is Grade A. And honestly, I don’t think the quality of the food is necessarily at question here. I think the reason so many people are fascinated by “mechanically separated chicken” is because we just simply want to know, how is our food made?
(Unless you search “Meet Your Meat” on YouTube, narrated by Alec Baldwin, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be exposed to the living conditions and slaughter of factory-farmed animals.)
Fortunately, my hero Jamie Oliver shed some light on the topic of mechanically separated chicken on his show, Food Revolution. After watching this clip below, it’s very obvious that there are no eyeballs, but yet still, this “pink sludge” which is the substance of chicken nuggets and chicken patties is A) disgusting to watch being processed and B) still evidently delicious.
So I will assume that McDonald’s process is a more glorified version of the one Jamie Oliver demonstrates, using only white meat. We can’t know for sure. Actually, if anything, I would almost defend McDonald’s in the way I recently did regarding them sponsoring the Olympics.
Why give them a hard time just because they’re so good at making processed meat products that America loves so much? I think it’s important to think “outside the restaurant.” As in, inside our grocery stores, for starters- and therefore, what’s in our freezers in our homes.
I guess for me, knowing that our society continues to choose to eat processed meats made from hormone-induced animals that physically can not reproduce sexually, which are butchered and processed by illegal immigrants who can easily be deported while their meat processing employers get away with hiring them, what I wonder is what really does cross the line of being “too gross to eat”?
How is eating mechanically separated chicken so much better than actually eating eye balls?
We decide that eating a chicken’s brain is disgusting, yet eating the veins and muscle and blood in a rib eye steak is not. Culturally, certain body parts are acceptable to eat and others are not. Veins, good. Brains, bad.
Of course, as seen in the Jamie Oliver clip, many of us will eat anything (and not question it) as long as it’s convenient and tastes good.
Our traditional eating habits are laced with double standards. Pigs are more intelligent than dogs and are more likely to give parasites to humans, yet we choose not to eat the cleaner and dumber animal because after all, he is man’s best friend.
The bottom line is this, it’s pretty darn easy to turn a blind eye to the mysterious processing of the food we eat. And it’s surprisingly natural not to question it in the name of convenience and “good taste.”
I wasn’t okay with that. I decided to turn a good eye to the food we eat. That’s why I write so much about this kind of stuff.
As a dad, questioning things like this are important to me. Back in the Eighties and Nineties when I was growing up, we didn’t really know better. We didn’t have the Internet or the book Eating Animals or documentaries on Netflix like Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives to tell us any better, in such a hip yet thorough format.
Sure, we all want a better life for our kids than the one we had. That’s part of being a parent. I want not only for my son to question where his food comes from, but also for me to have the answers for him.
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