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October 11, 2010 9:06 AM   Subscribe

"What's scary is that we've brainwashed our kids so brilliantly -- so even though they know something is disgusting and gross, they'll still eat it if it's in that friendly little shape." Jamie Oliver shows children how chicken nuggets are made [SLYT].
posted by bayani (282 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
The look of failure on his face when their hands went up was both hilarious and heartbreaking.
posted by Hactar at 9:11 AM on October 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


I was expecting this to be Oliver taking kids on a tour of a battery hen operation. Our relationship with animals is broken, but this video doesn't address it at all - it starts with a chicken carcass and never exits the kitchen. This is not the problem.
posted by mek at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Jamie Oliver's TED Talk: 'How We're Killing Our Kids With Bad Food.' BTW -- he won the 2010 TED Prize, an award granting recipients $100,000.
posted by ericb at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


The whole video I'm thinking "this is such bullshit, the kids are going to hate it and he's going to prove a point." And then the end comes and I am satisfied and immediately sickened by my own sense of satisfaction.

Confidential to the parents of the kid with the mohawk: ur doin it right.
posted by griphus at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Meatloaf, a presumably "good" food, wouldn't be much more attractive.

And imagine if you showed kids what went into foie gras!
posted by smackfu at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that and the little girl's avid smile when she says "I'm just hungry!" There's the next generation of obese Americans, folks - look on your works, ye parents, and despair.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sensing opportunity, Jamie Oliver then tries to teach children to eat classic standards from across the world even though they're made of bits and pieces of animals that US kids would normally find gross. And fails.
posted by Muddler at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


The FPP clip is from his 'Food Revolution' television series from this past March in the U.S.

It's a follow-on to 'Jamie Oliver's School Dinners' campaign in the U.K.
posted by ericb at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


He should show them what goes into rice crackers: AIR. They'll never eat those again when they're hungry!!!
posted by circular at 9:20 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]



Meatloaf, a presumably "good" food, wouldn't be much more attractive.


This is what I was thinking through the whole thing; there are plenty of foods that a little kid is going to think look gross, but are perfectly fine for you. Honestly, as a kid I probably would have told you that any kind of raw meat was gross, but I would have eaten as soon as you cooked it.

Sensing opportunity, Jamie Oliver then tries to teach children to eat classic standards from across the world even though they're made of bits and pieces of animals that US kids would normally find gross. And fails.

I'd be fairly interested to see that part, because a lot of the message I got from the brief clip was don't eat stuff other that's not the best quality meat, which is not the best message to be pushing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:21 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, we're using the chickens as efficiently as possible, turning parts of them that wouldn't otherwise be edible into food. This does not outrage me; in fact, it's pretty laudable. Would people rather we just throw out the parts that aren't easy to access?

Just because Jamie Oliver describes something repeatedly as 'horrible' doesn't mean that people can't eat it, or that it can't be made tasty.

Funny how people speak reverently about Native Americans using every possible part of the buffalo they killed, while our own attempts to do the same with chickens is considered disgusting.
posted by MrVisible at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2010 [110 favorites]


Why didn't he try pouring the pink goo all over the kids? I think that would have worked better.
posted by orme at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think that kids (and people in general) eat what is familiar and appeals to their palettes. Chicken nuggets are meaty, fatty, and salty, and therefore delicious.

If you want to change how kids eat, don't do it by lecturing them. Expose them to new foods often and they will eventually come around.
posted by mai at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2010


Exactly: if kids come away with "only eat chicken breasts" we're worse off than when we started. Oliver should be asking kids where that chicken came from - but he produces it like a magician at the beginning of the video, without explanation.
posted by mek at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, many of us think that it's responsible and ethical to use all the edible parts of an animal after it's slaughtered. And many of us think that what's commonly called "offal" is actually tasty and nutritious.

Apart from the slight of hand Oliver pulled when he threw in those mysterious stabilizing and flavour enhancing powders (could have been mostly flour or cornstarch, or loads of MSG) I'd have no concerns about eating a chicken nugget someone had made in front of me like that, even if the pink paste did look gross in its raw state.

Mind you, I wouldn't eat that much fat that often, and I think that industrial nuggets shouldn't be an everyday food for anyone, but there is nothing inherently unhealthy about freakin' connective tissue.

tl;dr: I'd eat it.

(On preview: yeah, what Mr. Visible said).
posted by maudlin at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


How is that disgusting and gross? One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is dropping the pillaged turkey carcass into a huge pot to make stock. Every part of the bird is edible in its own way; this is way less wasteful than taking the meat and tossing out everything else. The only reason people might find it disgusting is because of how separated we are from the real origins of our food.

There's the next generation of obese Americans, folks - look on your works, ye parents, and despair.

What are you talking about? If the next generation makes their nuggets from scratch using Jamie's method, then we will have come a long way from the current form of apocryphal food production and choosing edibles on faith and marketing.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, we're using the chickens as efficiently as possible, turning parts of them that wouldn't otherwise be edible into food. This does not outrage me; in fact, it's pretty laudable. Would people rather we just throw out the parts that aren't easy to access?

Just because Jamie Oliver describes something repeatedly as 'horrible' doesn't mean that people can't eat it, or that it can't be made tasty.

Funny how people speak reverently about Native Americans using every possible part of the buffalo they killed, while our own attempts to do the same with chickens is considered disgusting.


My sarcasm-meter must be broken. I'm just not picking it up. Anybody got some zingers for its annual tune-up?
posted by jabberjaw at 9:24 AM on October 11, 2010


If we didn't have chicken nuggets we would have to feed that stuff to livestock or throw it in a landfill. I, for one, am glad we have people willing to eat all the leftover meaty material. Like sausage and law people who like chicken nuggets shouldn't watch them being made.
posted by Tashtego at 9:24 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's the next generation of obese Americans, folks - look on your works, ye parents, and despair.

Previous related FPPs:
The right approach in dealing with childhood obesity?

Lunch in loud, brightly lit rooms.

School Lunch From Around The World
.
posted by ericb at 9:24 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


In this age of recycling, and over-population, why shouldn’t it be acceptable to eat all of the “nasty bits,” especially if you can make it more palatable?

They say that the pig is a magical creature. That everything can be used for food except for the oink. In other countries, they eat all sorts of parts of all sorts of animals that our culture has been taught to shun. Aside from whatever is in the stabilizers and the flavorings that he added, I can’t really see anything wrong with making the stuff most people would toss away into something useful and edible. (Even if, I must admit, I’m not sure I’d be willing to eat it.)
posted by crunchland at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's actally not true that mechanically separated meat is made by grinding up the entire animal carcass; bones, guts and all. Rather the carcasses are stripped of muscle fiber and tendons under high pressure.

Mechanically separated poultry is required to be labelled as such in the USA by the USDA, so it's easy to avoid it if you want to.

Also, mechanically separated beef products were banned in the USA due to concerns about "mad cow disease" in 2004.
posted by EtherealCaptive at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


"...so even though they know something is disgusting and gross, they'll still eat it if it's in that friendly little shape."

Also, because they think it tastes good.

I wouldn't eat one now, but I remember being a kid and McDonald's chicken nuggets tasted great to me.
posted by NationalKato at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone please explain to me how chopping breasts and wings off a corpse (and don't get me wrong, I love chicken) is more disgusting than chopping the remaining 'body' into pieces. The only thing this video demonstrates is that kids are impressionable.
posted by spicynuts at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


smackfu: "Meatloaf, a presumably "good" food, wouldn't be much more attractive.

And imagine if you showed kids what went into foie gras
"

My grandmother made the most delicious meatloaf. She also let me help prepare it. The first time I saw that bowl full of ground meat, raw eggs, mushy bread and sauce I almost puked. But I still loved her meatloaf. You'd be surprised at what you can accept given the proper training.
posted by Splunge at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, this is from a television show that aired a good 6 months ago, and the video made the rounds on all the better foodie blogs, as well as my own.)
posted by crunchland at 9:27 AM on October 11, 2010


> Funny how people speak reverently about Native Americans using every possible part of the buffalo they killed, while our own attempts to do the same with chickens is considered disgusting.

Well, Native Americans were making bone tools, gut string, and other non-food items out of the carcass, they weren't rendering inedible bits and mixing them with petroleum based agents to combine into a machined food-like unit. It's a facile comparison at best.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2010 [32 favorites]


This is utterly ridiculous, and I wholeheartedly agree with MrVisible, above. What more noble goal could there be than turning less-desirable pieces of food into something that's both delicious and edible? I was kind of delighted to see Oliver fail here.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


And imagine if you showed kids what went into foie gras!

What, that it uses the same feeding method and equipment used to feed birds rescued from oil spills? Or that the process mimics the natural gorging and fattening of the liver undertaken by the birds prior to migration?

Yeah, gavage feeding of waterfowl looks bad, and it would be unpleasant for the birds if it weren't for numerous adaptations they have that we don't. For example, they can breath freely during the process, and their esophagi are much tougher than ours (they're adapted to eat live, wriggling, spiny fish whole).

There are lots of horrible, cruel things about modern farming. Foie gras production is not, in itself, one of them, particularly if the birds are not kept in cages. One of the best American producers of foie gras, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, is a cage-free operation. Here's a video of their feeding operation (apologies for the somewhat biased presentation, but the more directly factual content is worth a watch).
posted by jedicus at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


If you want to change how kids eat, don't do it by lecturing them. Expose them to new foods often and they will eventually come around.

That's what Oliver does in his TV series (mentioned above). It's interesting to see how the 'lunch ladies' and kids eventually come around to prefering freshly prepared, non-packaged foods over the course of the series.
posted by ericb at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


rendering inedible bits

Fun fact: if you can eat it, it's not inedible!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


Why didn't he try pouring the pink goo all over the kids? I think that would have worked better.

Because You Can't Do That On Television.
posted by NationalKato at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2010 [34 favorites]


Milk, eggs, and honey are all pretty disgusting if you think too hard about the process. Hell, even organic vegetables could be disgusting if they used manure to fertilize the fields.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Fun fact: if you can eat it, it's not inedible!

Fun fact: enjoy your beak.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:31 AM on October 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Funny how people speak reverently about Native Americans using every possible part of the buffalo they killed, while our own attempts to do the same with chickens is considered disgusting.
...
What more noble goal could there be than turning less-desirable pieces of food into something that's both delicious and edible?

The problem is that the production process introduces a ton of bacteria into the meat, which then has to be treated with stuff like ammonia. And in order to make the resulting product palatable, it has to be heavily salted and fried.

There are much healthier ways to use the parts of the chicken that go into nuggets, such as stock and soup. But stock and soup take longer to make than mechanically separate chicken, and it's harder for McDonald's to sell chicken soup in Happy Meals. Hence, the nugget.
posted by jedicus at 9:31 AM on October 11, 2010 [21 favorites]


And Fergus Henderson gets an idea for his next new venture.

Artisnal handmade nuggets!
posted by Keith Talent at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't he be lecturing the kids parents, not the kids? 8 year olds don't do the grocery shopping.
posted by afx237vi at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: if you can eat it, it's not inedible!

ed•i•ble |ˈedəbəl|
adjective
fit to be eaten (often used to contrast with unpalatable or poisonous examples)
posted by jedicus at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


enjoy your beak.

No no, I'm a mammal, I have lips
posted by Greg Nog at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Anyway, it's kind of sad to see otherwise intelligent-seeming people play devil's advocate for McDonald's food production practices.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


Because You Can't Do That On Television.

Yes, you can.
posted by ericb at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2010


This chicken nuggets meme is somewhat interesting to me, since they have been on my radar since McDonalds introduced the McNuggets back in the 80s. I distinctly remember many hack comedians joking about where the nuggets are on a chicken...

Is a new generation just realizing that the nuggets their sainted parents slapped down in front of them were wholly processed crap or what? What is the big deal, exactly? Where did you guys think nuggets came from?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:37 AM on October 11, 2010


So, we're using the chickens as efficiently as possible, turning parts of them that wouldn't otherwise be edible into food.

Traditionally, the carcass is boiled in water and made into chicken stock. Sadly most chicken stock these days is made with artificial ingredients, I guess because the carcasses are more valuable as nuggets.
posted by stbalbach at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


..and if he had stuffed it all into a salted intestine?

Also, kids prefer food that is boneless.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometime in the mid-90s, I borrowed my brother's latest copy of Rolling Stone and dug in. There was an article--an expose, really--on how chicken nuggets are made. (Note: I can't find a copy online in a quick search but would heartily recommend it if you can find it)

The thoroughly disgusting, graphic word images that were painted left a lasting impression. It wasn't so much the mechanical rendering of meat that bothered me, but the expose covered how chickens with opens sores (puss dripping wounds!), badly injured and highly disfigured, were being used in the process of making the nuggets. This was well before journalists regularly covered factory farms in all their disgusting detail, and the RS article was a searing, well-argued piece.

I haven't eaten a chicken nugget since.
posted by librarylis at 9:39 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the state of the art in nugget technology: The Quorn Chik'n nugget.

Actually, come to think of it, thanks to this sucker and her recent rejection of ham and bacon (I know!) my kid is basically vegetarian right now.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, you can.

I'm a purist, ericb. It simply cannot be pink goo.
posted by NationalKato at 9:40 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I give you the state of the art in nugget technology: The Quorn Chik'n nugget.


Boca Chik'n nuggets are arguably better.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2010


Would people rather we just throw out the parts that aren't easy to access?

Yes. When you have to wash the entire pile of goop you've created with bleach because of the amount of chicken feces that are in there, washing away all flavour until you add your own chemical version... I say this as someone who eats haggis and other offal, and Fergus Henderson's St. John's is almost top of my where to eat list, but reformed meat just makes me lose any hope of an appetite, I think mostly 'cause I find it tastes bland, if not like total crap.

I would become a vegetarian before I had to eat nothing but chicken nuggets and shiny ham. I get the sense in which it may seem laudible, but it takes all the joy out of food (making it out of things) for me, and I just can't look at something like that and start salivating.

I don't know, I'll never understand. It seems like only if you're scared of where meat really comes from, or are too lazy to cook could you want that over roasting a chicken yourself (which is so damn tasty!)
posted by opsin at 9:42 AM on October 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


Another vote for both "I'd eat it" and "what's wrong with using the whole animal?" Further, I'm thinking that since that carcas bit tends to contain some organ meat, it's probably got some healthy stuff in it that you can't find in the other meat bits. And cartilage? That's calcium, no? Did he say there was marrow in there? Isn't marrow (apart from it's fattiness) really good for you?

Sure, I'd worry about what they're adding the the chicken, but the bits of chicken that they're using are not in themselves somehow worse than the bits of chicken he cut off first. The only reasons I tend not to eat them when roasting a chicken is a) the meat is kind of a pain to get off the bone and it's really more work than it's worth and b) I find the connective tissue to have an unpleasant texture in my mouth and really don't like chewing it. This method of preparation solves both problems for the diner.

So yeah, if you want a chicken nugget to gross me out, tell me what that stuff you added actually is and where it came from, cause I'm totally ok with the chicken.

p.s. And McD's uses "only white meat" in it's nuggets. Anyone have any idea what this means, practially speaking? I don't imagine they're grinding up the same chicken breasts that Jamie cut off in the video. So what are they doing?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:43 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey you guys! Did you know they grow organic food with cow shit? Fucking cow shit! Enjoy your shitty carrots and peas! And mushrooms? They get their nutriants from dead things, sometimes including dead humans! Why do you think there are so many at cemeteries?

I'm not defending processed meat, which can be quite gross, but let's face it: a lot of good foods come from gross sources. Instead, we should be against this stuff because of what it does to our bodies, and how ethically it was made. Also what it does to our environment, who profits from it, the people who make it, and so on.

Dr. Oz is more on to something. He shows what the bad stuff does to your body and describes it in clear terms. Yes, his medicine and science are sometimes off, and you may find him obnoxious, but I think he may be one of the best public educators on health. He gets people to watch, and in general, they listen. He got my grandparents, who were leading a sedentary lifestyle and slowly kind of letting the TV couch be their deathbed, to get an exercise bike and at least try to ride it for 5 minutes a day. At their age and ability, that's pretty good.

Of course, health is only one part of the equation. It'd probably be a bit too radical for the sponsors, though, if CBS paid a guy to rail against Monsanto and ConAgra an hour every day.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:43 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]




"You don't mix ammonia with food! That's illegal! And it's stupid. I've never seen anybody pull a stunt like that. These guys invest big money in that product, and would never do that."

Except, of course, when you do.
"Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli 'to an undetectable level.'...With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone."
Now, that's about beef, but I wouldn't doubt for a second that ammonia or similarly questionable substances are used to accomplish the same goal with mechanically separated chicken.
posted by jedicus at 9:48 AM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


No matter how laudable his aims, I can't see past the smug, mockney git.
posted by londonmark at 9:49 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Boca Chik'n nuggets are arguably better.

We've never had the same success with soy that we have with quorn. I think it's a texture thing. Of couyrse Quorn is not vegan, but that doesn't really bother us, because the big thing to us is that it is not pink goo.

Oh, and some Vegans think mushrooms are an animal.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on October 11, 2010


The whole bleaching the product with ammonia is just another urban legend. They don't do that in practice.

In the interest of full-disclosure I *do not* eat chicken nuggets or any other kind of MSM. It's just that I don't easily buy into hyperbole and fear-mongering. Natural born skeptic I guess.
posted by EtherealCaptive at 9:49 AM on October 11, 2010


And McD's uses "only white meat" in it's nuggets.

Yes, I should correct my earlier implication that McDonald's uses mechanically separated chicken. The meat in McNuggets is of the 'chopped and formed' variety, which is a step up from mechanically separated meat.
posted by jedicus at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2010


> I think it's a texture thing.

That may be it, yeah. Though, Boca nuggets do have a more "authentic" smell fresh out of the microwave, imo (sad, yes!).
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 AM on October 11, 2010


So, what about those more expensive, so-called "premium" Chicken Selects? Are they made in the same way? The marketing says it's "all-white chicken breast", but we know enough to mistrust McDonald's marketing.
posted by naju at 9:55 AM on October 11, 2010


In one of the Big Secrets books, there was a hilarious chart of what sorts of meat go into what sorts of mystery meat. "Skeletal meat," as in the sort of meat that we think of as meat, was one entry on the chart, and then you'd have all these other checkboxes for tongue, liver, eyeball, etc. The more checks on the chart that you had for a meat, the more ridiculous the meat was.

The big revelation? At the top of the pile, with the fewest checks, sat often-mocked, non-gourmet SPAM is apparently made entirely from skeletal meat - scraps, but skeletal meat. In the middle was head cheese, and when's the last time you had head cheese? And then, way on the other hand, was delicious, delicious chorizo, which is apparently made from everything you can imagine and then some.

I don't think Jamie Oliver's point was well made here. He waggles the chicken bones at the kids and they recoil, but why shouldn't they? It's raw chicken, and they know that you don't eat raw chicken. It's also unclear why grinding up meat and separating out the bone and gristle is so bad in and of itself. He invokes fillers and such, but he never makes clear what's so good, bad, or neutral about various stabilizers, fillers, preservatives, and flavorings.

He also grossly underestimates the appeal of gross things to kids. When I was 7, I would have thought it was hilarious that chicken nuggets are made from Excess Chicken In Goop Form. I still sort of find it hilarious.

Processed food is not something that should be in your daily diet, and chicken nuggets are no one's idea of health food, but this wasn't the best way to go about proving his point.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:56 AM on October 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I guess Jamie Oliver is one of those "Only take the tastiest part of the buffalo, and leave the rest of the carcass to rot" sort of people.

Go home and fix the black pudding, limey!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw dammit, there goes Jamie Oliver ruining all the good things again..

It's cruel.. Or it's toxic.. or it's a classic recipe but James insists on the "rustic" way to make it..

But then the kids call him on it. Oh yes, sweet jeezus, they fucking call him on it!

For reasons no more complicated than: it looks tasty, and we're hungry.

That, Mr Jamie bloody killjoy Olive is pure bloody justice..

Innit!
posted by Ahab at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kid at 0:33 is all, "*snerk* You said breasts."
posted by katillathehun at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]




In the town 15 miles from where I grew up, one of the major employers was a chicken processing plant. I don't recall seeing the pink goo, but we did tour the plant on a few field trips. I didn't see anything that terribly much put me off my nuggets; I wasn't a farm kid, per se, but since we were in a rural agricultural area I was accustomed to the basic realities of meat - people raised and hunted animals, and something like, say, sausage was viewed as an economical and tasty way to utilize as much of the animal as possible.

What got me was always the smell. When individual farmers slaughtered an animal they had raised for meat, it had to be done quickly and cleanly, so it was fresh and good. But there was always a whiff surrounding the plant that had a not-too-subtle pong of cadaverine. I can get with consuming bits I wouldn't normally eat rendered into a palatable form, but I am not too enthusiastic about consuming a product that at any point in its journey too the table smelled like something the dogs dragged up the driveway.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Y'know, there's a reason they give you dipping sauces.
posted by jonmc at 10:03 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah! Let's use lies and half-truths to shock kids into eating healthy, instead of facts! Woo hoo!
posted by autobahn at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2010


I love dinuguan, which is a Filipino dish made of pork blood and non-meat parts of the pig, like ears and snouts. If Jamie Oliver came over to my house and showed me how to make it, and asked me "Is this gross?", I'd honestly answer, "Yeah". If he then asked me "Do you want to eat this?", I'd honestly answer, "Yeah" again.

Some food, you just don't want to see it get made. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't want to eat it afterwards.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would like to eat some nuggets nowish.
posted by angrycat at 10:06 AM on October 11, 2010


Boneless Chicken Ranch.
posted by chavenet at 10:07 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lutefisk is prepared by soaking fish in a basic solution until it almost turns into soap. Hákarl is shark prepared by letting bacteria change the high (in sharks) urea content into ammonia. Probably not foods you'd want to make a staple of your diet, but abusing food with bases and acids is nothing new.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I love dinuguan, which is a Filipino dish made of pork blood and non-meat parts of the pig, like ears and snouts.

I've been around dinuguan my whole life and you can probably eat more of it than me :D I like the flavor, but only for a few bites.

Let's be friends.
posted by bayani at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


To round out this post: Paul and Storm - Nugget Man
posted by teraflop at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2010


"Is a new generation just realizing that the nuggets their sainted parents slapped down in front of them were wholly processed crap or what? What is the big deal, exactly? Where did you guys think nuggets came from?"


"Parts is parts!"

posted by happyroach at 10:09 AM on October 11, 2010


The part about the chemical additives bothers me far more than the reground-chicken bones thing. At the very root of it, I don't fundamentally see a bad thing with eating organic material. But I really hate that I fucking LOVE Chicken McNuggets and it's not because I love chicken; it's because I'm most likely in some small way addicted to sodium hydrophosphonucleogarbanzonoid-3.

Likewise, not that I want to watch it for hours on end, I don't have a problem with seeing an animal quickly and painlessly slaughtered (or at least as painlessly at that can be done). I am however horrified at the living conditions, and even worse the killing conditions, we have put on animals in this country because of factory farming. Hell, after watching video of chickens being force-fed grain I considered their decapitation a mercy killing. No matter what part of the chicken Oliver used to make whatever, it's still going to have the same amount of growth hormones in its tissue.

Long story short: the problem here is not and never will be the existence of Chicken McNuggets. The nightmare is what is being done to make them only 99 cents.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:10 AM on October 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Chemicals are bad! Unless they occur in plants, and then they are good!
posted by smackfu at 10:11 AM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Funny how people speak reverently about Native Americans using every possible part of the buffalo they killed...

Let us discuss the differences between the words "use" and "eat."
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:11 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I kind of expected John Oliver.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2010


Chemicals are bad! Unless they occur in plants, and then they are good!

At some level, Dioxin is made from "all-natural ingredients."
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:12 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we, as a collective group, effectively purge the phrase "to be honest" from the English language? Or at least from Jamie Oliver's mouth?
posted by incessant at 10:13 AM on October 11, 2010


it starts with a chicken carcass and never exits the kitchen. This is not the problem.
posted by mek at 5:13 PM on October 11


You mean it's not the problem you're interested in. It's still a problem. It's a problem Jamie Oliver and a hell of a lot of other people are interested in.
posted by Decani at 10:13 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess Jamie Oliver is one of those "Only take the tastiest part of the buffalo, and leave the rest of the carcass to rot" sort of people.

According to his website, he's actually one of those 'use the rest of the carcass to make something tasty, like stock' sort of people.

The essential problem is that people want to eat a lot of desirable parts but not so much the things that can be made from the less desirable bits. So the food industry invents ways to make the less desirable bits sort-of-look and kind-of-taste like the desirable parts. In reality, the better approach would be to dial down our overall meat consumption so that we consumed a roughly equal ratio of all parts of the animal.

And, really, the nutritional problem isn't the parts of the chicken that go into mechanically separated meat. The nutritional problem is that it's almost always heavily salted and fried. You don't serve grilled mechanically separated chicken with steamed vegetables. It's turned into salty, fatty, carb-coated nuggets and served with sugary soda and salty, fatty, carb-laden french fries.
posted by jedicus at 10:15 AM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow. There's a hell of a lot of point-missing in these comments. I do not think the point is that it is bad to use up all the bits of a slaughtered animal.
posted by Decani at 10:20 AM on October 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wonder how he feels about sausage.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:21 AM on October 11, 2010


it's because I'm most likely in some small way addicted to sodium hydrophosphonucleogarbanzonoid-3.

Eh. It's really just MSG you're addicted to. Which is fine; MSG is delicious.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:22 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not think the point is that it is bad to use up all the bits of a slaughtered animal.

The point seems to be that if kids knew how gross chicken nuggets were, they wouldn't eat them. The responses are mainly saying that "gross" isn't a very good reason not to eat something.
posted by smackfu at 10:22 AM on October 11, 2010


The chickenTM nuggets you're buying at McD's or wherever aren't made by a television chef who personally fashions each patty by hand and fries them just right, either. I wonder how the kids would've reacted if they'd watched all this happen on a conveyor belt that blorped out fried dollops of robo-nuggets, or however those things are made. I'm just saying - if a nice man in a fancy kitchen wanted to serve elementary school me a pile of nuggets made from chicken skin and bones at a quarter 'til lunch time, I would assume he knew what he was doing and that it was bound to be tastier than the Meat Triangle they were trying to pass off as food to me at school.
posted by katillathehun at 10:22 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Can we, as a collective group, effectively purge the phrase "to be honest" from the English language?

"To be frank" is a much better term. It implies that you are just offering up a rawer version of the story, rather than that you were previously withholding something as "to be honest" implies.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


"To be frank" is a much better term. It implies that you are just offering up a rawer version of the story...

Or that you're now speaking in the voice of your midwestern insurance salesman character, Frank.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:25 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I think all the alternatives are fine.
posted by smackfu at 10:26 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wonder how the kids would've reacted if they'd watched all this happen on a conveyor belt that blorped out fried dollops of robo-nuggets

Which is of course exactly how we see them all the time at actual fast food restaurants, especially McDonalds, where the frying work is done in plain sight.

Hint: they sell like gangbusters.
posted by chavenet at 10:29 AM on October 11, 2010


After watching this I.... I kind of want to make my own chicken nuggets.

We make a lot of bird stock but I've never thought about throwing a carcass in the processor. Kind of brilliant, actually. I'll use the food mill from the apple sauce.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2010


That was litrally the opposite response I'd had back home, which was...shocking.

Fuck you Jamie Oliver. Our public health problems are not going to get solved by your ego-feeding.
posted by felix betachat at 10:33 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread went in a totally different direction than I was expecting. Perhaps it is because I'm a huge Jamie Oliver fan, but I thought that was pretty compelling stuff.
posted by jbickers at 10:36 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


As one who buys whole chickens and chops the parts up himself, I really wish I knew the magic ingredients he was throwing in that paste, because I'd love to make me some home-made nuggets. You can only make so much stock, you know.
posted by valkyryn at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder why we get turned off by ground chicken, but have no problem with ground beef?
posted by smackfu at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2010


Which is of course exactly how we see them all the time at actual fast food restaurants, especially McDonalds, where the frying work is done in plain sight.

We don't see the McNuggets being made. We see them being fried. That's completely different.
posted by katillathehun at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2010


As one who buys whole chickens and chops the parts up himself, I really wish I knew the magic ingredients he was throwing in that paste, because I'd love to make me some home-made nuggets. You can only make so much stock, you know.

I was actually thinking the same thing; my freezer's already full of bags containing spines and ribs that I ain't gotten around to boiling yet. I'd love an in-home nugget-making machine!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:41 AM on October 11, 2010


> I wonder why we get turned off by ground chicken, but have no problem with ground beef?

Ground chicken can be yummy, especially if you make it at home with really fresh meat and your own recipe of flavoring. I don't see any anti-ground chicken here, more just anti-McDonald's mcnuggets. The story here should be about McDonald's food sourcing practices and additives, not so much the abstract idea about grinding up parts of chickens.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:42 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


My initial reaction was bullshit, too: the traditional thing to do with a carcass is boil it for soup, or, if you have more time, strip the remaining meat and use it for stew/pot pie/ground chicken and THEN boil the carcass for soup. I don't quite see the point of this exercise.
posted by jrochest at 10:42 AM on October 11, 2010


Doesn't anyone else think that if he'd been cooking up (FRYING up!) the legs and wings at the same time, and then gave them the alternative of a nice fried chicken leg or the fried goo, they'd go for the leg? I mean, he says to the (hungry!) kids- "which would you rather eat, this (the cooked-and-ready-to-nosh goo bits, smelling all fried and yummy) or this (the still-raw breasts and legs)?" Well, shoot, I'm not going to eat that raw chicken breast and I'm hungry, so HAND OVER THE NUGGETS!
posted by billcicletta at 10:47 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder why we get turned off by ground chicken, but have no problem with ground beef?

Good ground beef is mostly made from two sources: tougher cuts and trim from better cuts (e.g., the smaller bits of meat left over as the butcher forms the steaks, roasts, etc from the primals). It's very different from mechanically separated chicken, which is made of all the little bits of muscle left on the carcass together with a fair amount of connective tissue. Mechanically separated beef hasn't been legal in the US since 2004 and it had been fairly tightly regulated since 1996.

The main problem with ground chicken made from skeletal muscles like breasts, thighs, etc is textural. Partly because of the low fat content and partly because of the nature of the meat itself, ground chicken tends to take on a dry, rough texture when cooked. Ground beef usually does not have that problem.
posted by jedicus at 10:51 AM on October 11, 2010


then gave them the alternative of a nice fried chicken leg or the fried goo, they'd go for the leg?

When I was a kid, I hated bone-in chicken. So messy, and little bits of cartilage and fat.
posted by smackfu at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2010


More like "to vom or not to vom" amirite?
posted by azarbayejani at 10:53 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kinda wish someone other than Jamie Oliver had done this. He talked down to those kids and it wasn't pleasant to watch. If he'd done this differently we might have seen a different reaction from the kids at the end.

My question is whether chicken nuggets from other non-McDonald's sources are better quality? My kids eat dino nuggets from BJ's every once in a while, and I'd like to think I'm not feeding them crap.
posted by zarq at 10:54 AM on October 11, 2010


I would eat Jamie Oliver's home-made chicken nuggets. I mean, you have to admit, the guy could fry up a dog turd and with a little rocket and some sauce it would look pretty decent.
posted by GuyZero at 10:54 AM on October 11, 2010


Sorry, I'm from Pennsylvania and have watched scrapple being made and I LOVE eating the stuff, so I'm certainly not squeamish about "nugget" production. What, do people think the cute shapes are punched out of lovely sheets of chicken meat like cookies?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


The part you won't hear from the food moralists is that when they say "nuggets," they really mean McNuggets™, and McNuggets™ haven't been made of mechanically separated poultry in seven years (at least for the US market—your mileage may vary elsewhere). But hey, yeah it's so gross and we're all glad we're just so much better and smarter than all those who eat horrifying, evil foods that cause childhood obesity, the single worst scourge human beings will ever, ever face.

Of course, I'm not the best advocate for the food moralists, because my favorite food of all foods (barely edging out daisy eggs, phở, or a perfectly turned-out fried egg sandwich on toast) is scrapple, and man, oh man, do the eyes roll when I mention that to people, especially if they're non-Marylanders who have no idea what I'm talking about, requiring a detailed explanation of the stuff. I'm no monk, but I'm zen as all get-out with my scrapple, cutting it into slices exactly 5/16ths of an inch thick, cooking it in a French spring steel crepe pan that hasn't been touched by soap in twenty-one years, and not touching it until it reaches the magical boundary that separates orgasmic crispiness from charring.

Scrapple's a traditional "trashcan" food, a way of squeezing the last little oink out of a pig carcass with flour, cornmeal (an overwhelming amount of that in the less-lovely Pennsylvania renditions of the dish), and spices, and you don't sit around thinking about eating pork brains and hearts (my dad, a proper Southerner, hated the stuff, regarded it as a yankee corruption, and would always add "rectums" to the list, though I don't know of a mainstream brand that goes that far). You don't think about it in the same way you don't think about the way a pig looks at you, which is with intelligence and an odd humanity, because that just sets up the cognitive dissonance between what we are as animals, designed for omnivorous diets and violence, and what we are as bright and nearly-risen angels, the single most consistently altruistic species on the planet, though many scoff at that particular allegation I often make.

In my mind, though, if I'm going to kill something beautiful in order to eat it, I'm sure as hell not going to chuck good meat on the trash heap, even if it does require a bit of wrangling to turn it from "what the hell is that" into "this may well be the single best-cooked slice of scrapple ever in the whole history of the human race." I think there's something much more noble in sausage than there is in the paltry spectacle of a slice of chicken breast, grimly celebrated in that sort of puritanical pleasure available to people who lack a certain lusty something or other.

I'm thinking about going vegetarian again, after a sixteen-year break, though this time, I'm going to definitely leave a scrapple clause in my list of unfortunate lapses. All the way back in my wayward collegiate days, I was sitting in on a vegetarian group meeting on campus with a few friends, and the subject at hand was unfortunate lapses, all confessed with the kind of earnest self-hatred you usually only find in church-going homosexuals.

"I slipped last month, and had a piece of turkey breast. I forgot how awful meat is."

"I didn't mean to slip," said another young lady, dolled up in pins and white-girl dreads, "but there was meat in a sandwich that was supposed to be vegan. It was horrible. I tasted some of the urine [for the record, there are some vegetarians who claim that meat is full of urine] and I had to make myself throw up, to get it all out."

I'm kind of a jackass, so I had to pitch in my own two cents.

"Oh, that's nothing. I got a wild hair and fried up two pounds of scrapple last weekend."

The room went deadly quiet, then someone made a soft wretching sound. In another second, it was all shouting and insults, and I was caught off guard.

"How's scrapple worse than turkey breast or meat urine?" I asked, feeling cornered, and I somehow managed to think up an idea that made the tension in the room far worse. "I mean, you could actually make scrapple in a way that would be good for animals!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" asked a neck-bearded fella.

"I mean, if we started a national program of pig-beautification, we could give plastic surgery to pigs to make them more glamorous, and then make all the left-overs into scrapple."

Deadly quiet again, but only for a second.

"That's patriarchal bullshit if I ever heard it. Do you have any idea how many women have been mutilated by the corporate beauty industry? You think you're being funny, but that's the kind of thinking that gets women raped, you know," said the neck-beard, looking over at the girl in the dreads, who nodded.

At that moment, I just really wanted to run out of the room crying like a little girl, with my bookbag clasped to my chest, but I argued a little while, then left, never to return. I don't care what mean vegetarians think, either. A national program of pig-beautification is at least a little bit funny, no matter what anyone says.

My first long drive as a newly-licensed driver was even scrapple-related, as I headed out to Ocean City, Maryland by a route that would take me through Bridgeville, Delaware and past the giant sign reproducing the package of my favorite brand of scrapple. I pulled over, in my little Datsun station wagon, headed for the business office, and asked when the next tour was.

"Well, we really don't have regular tours," said a very nice lady, "but let me ask if the manager might be able to show you the plant."

There's a little more pomp and circumstance there now, with a roaring annual Apple Scrapple Festival and a bit of a cult following that I like to think I've helped to encourage by blogging about scrapple at regular intervals, but back in the eighties, it was strictly a low-key thing, and the manager was so impressed by my energy and enthusiasm that I went on my way, hours later, with some lovely official-issue clothing (intended for factory workers) and memorabilia that I still treasure.

Years later, right after I won a modest award for a piece of writing I did about playing electronic music in a barn in New Jersey, I decided I needed to get a corporate sponsor for my blog, and so I called up RAPA and talked about myself in the third person like a movie star with something to offer.

"Howdy," I said, by way of starting off with a breezy, friendly attitude. "I don't know if you've been reading the internet, but there's an up-and-coming writer out there who's interested in offering RAPA and the Jones Dairy Farm corporation a desirable marketing opportunity."

"Umm, and what would that be?"

"We're in a position to make RAPA scrapple the official scrapple of Joe Wall."

"Who?"

"Joe Wall. He's an award-winning up-and-coming writer in the Delmarva region, and he's enthusiastic about selecting RAPA scrapple as his official scrapple product line."

"What exactly would that entail?"

"That's negotiable, but if you and the Jones Dairy Farm corporation and RAPA-brand scrapple get in on the ground floor, it could prove to be a very desirable marketing opportunity, chief," I said, somehow managing to stay in character.

It wasn't so much a negotiation as a "what are you talking about, again?" sort of conversation, but I did get a little package of swag in the mail, shortly thereafter, and RAPA is, in fact, the official scrapple of, well, me.

I guess I can relate to Jamie Oliver's showman excesses, and even his absurd fake accent ("everyfing's pukka!"), but I don't give that old same-old puritanical panic much sway. If chicken nuggets are bad for you, it's because they're fried and because you're eating too many too often, not because they're made (or not made) of the little fiddly leftover bits. Does everything really, really have to come down to a declaration of moral failing or an appeal to revulsion?

My parents had a method of teaching us what to eat that worked pretty well, as it happens. We had a huge vegetable garden instead of a huge golf-coursey lawn, and we had a little chicken yard with laying hens, so we knew what a vegetable was supposed to look and taste like, and we had eggs so fresh that eating them hard-boiled sucked because you just can't peel a fresh egg that's been hard-boiled without shredding the poor thing.

There was no gross-out, or moralist finger-wagging, except that my mother used to warn us that food coloring would make us shoot the mayor of San Francisco, an admonition I completely failed to comprehend until my adulthood.
posted by sonascope at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2010 [54 favorites]



As one who buys whole chickens and chops the parts up himself, I really wish I knew the magic ingredients he was throwing in that paste, because I'd love to make me some home-made nuggets. You can only make so much stock, you know.


Yeah, that part about "stabilizers" was pretty hand-wavy. I would have eaten those patties. With relish.
posted by Shohn at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2010


Milk, eggs, and honey are all pretty disgusting if you think too hard about the process.

IMHO, the worst offender in the "Don't think about it too hard" (in terms of everyday foods anyway) is cheese.

Who was the first braintrust who thought "Man, this milk has gone so bad it's SOLID. Hmmm. I think I'll eat it." Really - WHO WAS THAT GUY? I'm betting whoever he was, he was French.

Lutefisk is prepared by soaking fish in a basic solution until it almost turns into soap. Hákarl is shark prepared by letting bacteria change the high (in sharks) urea content into ammonia. Probably not foods you'd want to make a staple of your diet,

As someone of Scandhioovian descent who has been subject to both foods: You don't want to eat them at all. You just don't. Sure, the Vikings needed to find ways to preserve food through the Nordic winter, but seriously - this is 2010. You can buy strawberries year round. Food is miraculously available. DON'T EAT LUTEFISK.

If you do insist on eating hákarl, be sure you do so outdoors. When I lived in Iceland, I served some to my stepfather (PS: the only food he's never been able to eat a second bite of it's so foul and awful) and my apartment smelled like... well, death would have been an improvement on that smell... for two weeks. Only later did someone tell me you "traditionally" eat it out on the balcony for this reason.
posted by sonika at 10:58 AM on October 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


Shouldn't he be lecturing the kids parents, not the kids? 8 year olds don't do the grocery shopping.

8 year olds have, by that stage, been directly (their own movie/TV/reading/toy habits) or indirectly (their friends) targeting by billions upon billions of advertising aimed at making them bug the shit out of their parents to haul them into McDonalds or analogues thereof - because little Janey is having her birthday party there, because it's the only place you can get toy X from the latest Pixar franchise, because it's got a cool playground, because it's the place for "magic family moments" or whatever. This is all very well-researched, carefully targeted stuff aimed at little humans who still are in the stage of fairly blind levels of trust in authority figures.

Lecturing their parents? McDonalds don't bother, because they know that if they can capture a kid, statisically speaking, they've won.

Also, kids prefer food that is boneless.

You've never seem my kid gnawing of lamb chops and shanks, clearly.

Fuck you Jamie Oliver. Our public health problems are not going to get solved by your ego-feeding.

Yes, fuck Jamie Oliver for having spent the last few years trying to improve kid's nutrition instead of Gordon Ramsey style "reality TV" to line his own pockets.

What have you done for public health recently, by the way?
posted by rodgerd at 10:59 AM on October 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


Another weird thing about the Oliver piece - he talks about how valuable the wings are on a chicken, but it wasn't so long ago that the wings were seen as cheap, undesirable parts of the chicken. Enter delicious chicken wing recipes and lo, the price changes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:01 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


IMHO, the worst offender in the "Don't think about it too hard" (in terms of everyday foods anyway) is cheese.

LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! LALALALALA! PASS THE VELVEETA! LALALALALA!
posted by zarq at 11:03 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder how the kids would've reacted if they'd watched all this happen on a conveyor belt that blorped out fried dollops of robo-nuggets

As an adult with a more sophisticated palate, I don't particularly care for chicken nuggets - they're just boring. But the kid in me thinks the idea of "robo-nuggets" is incredibly cool. You're not going to get kids to stop eating things by saying they're gross - that's just kid 101.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:04 AM on October 11, 2010


For those who haven't seen it, I strongly recommend watching the "Britain's Really Disgusting Foods" series, which is also available through online torrents.

There are shows on all sorts of different categories, such as meat, dairy, etc.
posted by markkraft at 11:10 AM on October 11, 2010


You can pry my cheese away from my cold, dead, fat-clogged ..... oh, screw it, pass the feta.
posted by blucevalo at 11:13 AM on October 11, 2010


When my wife's family kill a pig or a chicken they don't waste a thing. And while I might not eat so much of the tiet (congealed blood), my 3 year old daughter has no problem with it, and nor should she.

To me the only doubtful part of the recipe was the "additives" he throws in. If that's MSG, then that's fine with me, though. Other neutral fillers are also fine. I grew up on British Bangers (sausages) which are at least 30% grain.

More important (for moral and gastronomic reasons) is the way that chicken lived before it arrived all plucked and naked on that table.
posted by grubby at 11:14 AM on October 11, 2010


The whole bleaching the product with ammonia is just another urban legend. They don't do that in practice.

Right before the New York Times published an article questioning the pervasive use of ammonia in beef processing, lawyers at Marler Clark, LLP, a food safety litigation firm based in Seattle, sent a formal request to Iowa State University seeking public records related to the research a University professor did on the safety of ammoniated beef. Beef Products Inc. (BPI), the company that pioneered the ammonia processing technique, has since filed a suit seeking a court order against the university to prevent public records from being released.

Strange urban legend that needs lawyers to keep things quiet.

ed•i•ble |ˈedəbəl|
adjective
fit to be eaten (often used to contrast with unpalatable or poisonous examples)


Not the interpretation of Paul Stamets when he speaks of things like the birch polypore.

It is edible. It also can be used to sharpen knife blades (old face shaving ones). If you are bleeding, you can take the powder and use it to stop the bleeding (see Otzi the Iceman)

If you have no tastebuds it might be palatable. For anyone with any sense of taste - the tea made from it is not palatable.

I wonder why we get turned off by ground chicken, but have no problem with ground beef?

Chicken have a link to Salmonella that is historic whereas beef does not.

Add in marketing and availability of the one product VS the other and there is your trend.

. DON'T EAT LUTEFISK.

My understanding is part of the reason for making the toxic fish preservation method was to poison the raiders who would have otherwise stolen the food. That, and making the food not worth stealing.

But that is a rather esoteric interpretation of the why of lutefisk.

(and Alton Brown was on camera spitting it out/tossing it away)

I'm betting whoever he was, he was French.

Was he hairy and gave up on most things? *rim shot*
posted by rough ashlar at 11:14 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see a lot of people in this thread complaining about the ingredients and preparation being gross, but absolutely no one suggesting that the pink slurry nuggets contained something that was affirmatively bad, toxic or dangerous, or that they did not contain the nutritional content that is listed on the packaging.

If the criticism is that the parts he's using, like bones, connective tissue, etc contain something that is bad for you that is not also in the ordinary white or dark meat, please say so, because I think that is important and useful information.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:22 AM on October 11, 2010


but absolutely no one suggesting that the pink slurry nuggets contained something that was affirmatively bad, toxic or dangerous,

Really?

The problem is that the production process introduces a ton of bacteria into the meat
posted by rough ashlar at 11:24 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


The only reason he "failed" here is because kids are often shown how things "work" using similar methods; the initial disgust they may have felt was overcome quickly by the sense of wonder they felt and how something so gross could become something so yummy. Under normal conditions, that's what we want them to do -- to be enthralled by the transformation. I have no doubt by the end of it they've ceased to see the disgusting thing as disgusting, because it was so effectively transformed.

Plus, kids like gross stuff. That's just a given.

He might have had better luck if he lined up the good and the gross parts of the chicken, with the final result (produced from those bits) in boxes behind them, then asked the kids to pick the parts they'd eat and the parts they wouldn't. Then, revealing that the gross parts went into nuggets (without the cushioning distance of transformative steps) would have made the nuggets == gross connection more effectively as a negative thing.

Ultimately, though, the problem with chicken isn't the nuggets; it's the way the chickens are raised and the conditions under which they're processed that are the larger problem. Beyond that, we're just talking "fake food vs real food" (where real food tastes good and has the things your body needs to thrive, and fake food tastes good but doesn't have those things, so it's pretending to be real food) and that's a much easier thing to teach.
posted by davejay at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


conditions under which they're processed that are the larger problem.

If you have a sick animal introduced into a process of 'one animal one package' the exposure of the consumer to the prions, cancer, viruses or bacteria the animal had is limited to the few packages that said animal got put in.

The present system where one animal is mixed in with many others and then packaged means the sickness is spread across many more packages.

I'll leave it to the readers to determine how much they trust sick animals won't be processed.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:33 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread went in a totally different direction than I was expecting. Perhaps it is because I'm a huge Jamie Oliver fan, but I thought that was pretty compelling stuff.

Yeah, I was initially pretty grossed out, and disheartened that the kids didn't feel the same way I did. Then I started to wonder if my own visceral disgust at the nugget-making process was really just an expression of my own consumer preferences, and was not based on some self-evident truth about food and nutrition. Maybe I just associate McNuggests with fat children, poverty, exploitation, animal cruelty and colon cancer because I've self-selected into a smug consumer enclave that reinforces that perception.

I was at a farmer's market in Santa Monica yesterday and totally loved the way the whole experience made me feel; healthy, smart, hip, special, "part of the solution." But maybe that's just a different kind of consumer ecstasy, fraught with it's own moral contradictions and absurdities. Maybe farmers markets and other expressions of supposed consumer enlightenment are, to quote a line from Mad Men, "just more 'happiness.'"

I very much suspect that this is the case. But given the choice between self-deluded snobbery and chemically disinfected chicken slurry...? More savory crepes, please.
posted by ducky l'orange at 11:35 AM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Next up, making Thai fish sauce!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:35 AM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


*shrugs*

Ain't nothin' a little hot mustard or sweet and sour sauce won't fix.
posted by nomadicink at 11:37 AM on October 11, 2010


Chicken have a link to Salmonella that is historic whereas beef does not.

Depending on how you define "historic", really, but it's certainly been a real problem for the past few decades, so all parts of a chicken should be cooked fully. I don't see how that makes the kind of chicken goo produced in this video especially dangerous.

The problem is that the production process introduces a ton of bacteria into the meat

and

bleaching the product with ammonia

So wouldn't all parts of industrial chicken be equally nasty or innocuous?

The only potential danger I can see in grinding up versus carefully cutting your own personal industrial chicken would be if something like Mad Chicken Disease was developing in flocks and eating ground up spinal cords was an easy way to acquire the prions or similar infecting agent. Is anything like this happening?
posted by maudlin at 11:37 AM on October 11, 2010


One word: Scrapple
posted by HyperBlue at 11:40 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Soylent Pink is........Chicken!!!!
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:50 AM on October 11, 2010


The video would've been a thousand times better if, after losing the battle, Oliver had screamed, "If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding!"
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:54 AM on October 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


So... what's the dead bacteria count like in the average pint of milk these days?
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2010


So wouldn't all parts of industrial chicken be equally nasty or innocuous?

The mechanically separated chicken process mixes meat from dozens of birds together. It's a cross-contamination nightmare.

Several people have mentioned scrapple. First, you can make scrapple using parts from just one animal, which helps. Second, scrapple is usually made fresh.

Third, scrapple is less bad for you. Using Chicken McNuggets for comparison (I know they aren't mechanically separated, but using them as an example of a heavily processed chicken product), on an equal weight basis McNuggets have a third more calories, a third more total fat, 20% more carbs, and lack the potassium of scrapple. Figures for sodium and cholesterol are similar. The McNuggets do have more protein, though.

Fourth, scrapple isn't marketed directly to children as a tasty treat, served alongside french fries and soda, with a toy/advertisement thrown in, all packaged in a box covered in ads.
posted by jedicus at 12:01 PM on October 11, 2010


Eating gross shit is awesome. Wasn't this guy ever a kid?

If he really wanted to make a point he should have introduced the kids to a cute little piggy; let them play with it and keep it as a pet for a month. Then he could take them all to a remote mountain cabin for a week-long field trip, and pretend to run out of food after a couple of days of heavy snowfall. Then he can slaughter the pig in front of them, and turn it into all kinds of delicious meat products which the traumatized children will all eat of necessity.

... I forgot what point this would make, I just think it's funny to emotionally scar children.
posted by dgaicun at 12:01 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


No no, I'm a mammal, I have lips.

And then god made the duck-billed platypus and said, 'Let's see the evolutionary biologists figure this one out'.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:03 PM on October 11, 2010


> ... I forgot what point this would make, I just think it's funny to emotionally scar children.

Easier just to park them in front of YouTube for an afternoon and show them slaughterhouse and poultry farm clips.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:03 PM on October 11, 2010


... I forgot what point this would make, I just think it's funny to emotionally scar children.

Oh, the cow in the meadow goes "moo."
posted by zarq at 12:05 PM on October 11, 2010


What have you done for public health recently, by the way?

I'm not sure that getting on the teevee to crow sanctimoniously at the spawn of rednecks constitutes "doing something for public health," but you may think differently.

For my part, we try as much as we can to eat local, organic and unprocessed foods. It's hard, because they're so expensive and it can be time-consuming to prepare them. But at minimum we shun fast food and chain restaurants and try to eat a mostly plant-based diet. I figured that out with the help of Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and Alice Waters, mostly. They all do a good job of educating without condescending. What I've learned from them I'll teach to my kids. My parents are good people, but they (like most of their generation) didn't swim hard enough against the sweeping currents that changed our society's relationship to food over the last half-century. The problems of childhood obesity and poor health are, ultimately, structural ones related to the mechanization of agriculture and the conjoining of nutrition science and food marketing. Pretending that they reflect a national propensity to eat disgusting, unhealthy shit is chauvinistic and it's flat out wrong.

Jamie Oliver presents these problems like they are the consequence of individual moral failings. I find that approach, for all its utility for television, to be shameful and ultimately counterproductive.
posted by felix betachat at 12:09 PM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fourth, scrapple isn't marketed directly to children as a tasty treat, served alongside french fries and soda, with a toy/advertisement thrown in, all packaged in a box covered in ads.

The McRib Happy Meal.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny how people speak reverently about Native Americans using every possible part of the buffalo they killed, while our own attempts to do the same with chickens is considered disgusting.

There's big difference in the quality of meat between a wild buffalo and a cage raised chicken. You're missing the point.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:10 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


jedicus: The mechanically separated chicken process mixes meat from dozens of birds together. It's a cross-contamination nightmare.

Which would apply to any store-bought ground meat, beef or chicken, right? My questions were about doing exactly what Oliver did in the video: take one chicken and process it into goo. Is there anything about processing a single industrial chicken that way that is more dangerous than just eating the whole slabs of muscle meat from that single industrial chicken?

That said, I have been feeling more and more uneasy about eating industrial meat. I don't know if I'm ready to take the plunge into a mostly-vegetarian diet, with meat restricted to weekends and social meals, but I have been thinking about it.
posted by maudlin at 12:22 PM on October 11, 2010


The show this came from was great, BTW! Like the part where one of the local families mournfully buried their deep fat fryer in the back yard to show how committed they were to getting healthy.

As to chicken nuggets being made from parts of the chicken that should be sacrosanct and are somehow not fit for human consumption, hogwash! Many cultures eat cartilage (e.g., duck feet), connective tissue, tendons, tripe, brains, and all manner of entrails, lovingly prepared. Some people even relish coffee made from beans that

What I object to in nuggets is the salt and fat.

Someone upthread commented

"The problem is that the production process introduces a ton of bacteria into the meat, which then has to be treated with stuff like ammonia."

You think you've never ingested ammonia? How exactly would ammonia be harmful in the quantities we might be talking about? Many fermented foods contain ammonia, in much higher concentrations:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doenjang
posted by etherist at 12:24 PM on October 11, 2010


Which would apply to any store-bought ground meat, beef or chicken, right?

Depends on the store.

A local low volume butcher may go hours between people asking for a hunk of meat being ground so in that time the grinder would get a full cleaning - thus cross animal contamination would be non-existant.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:26 PM on October 11, 2010


Man, an awful lot of effort here spent defending things that are not artificially flavored pink slurry.
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on October 11, 2010


Some people prefer their artificially flavoured overprocessed industrial slurry to be soy based, thank you very much.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:32 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


OMG YOU DISSED THE SLURRY THEREFORE YOU HATE FRENCH PEASANT FOOD!
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on October 11, 2010


Well, if you have a food processor big enough to fit a French peasant, I guess I could try it ...
posted by maudlin at 12:39 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which would apply to any store-bought ground meat, beef or chicken, right?

Depends on the production process, but not necessarily. From what I've seen of supermarket ground beef production, for example, where the meat is ground at the store, it seems that meat from only a handful of different animals is involved

Part of this is a function of the fact that cows have much larger muscles than chickens, of course.
posted by jedicus at 12:40 PM on October 11, 2010


Given that they sent all their fatties over here a couple hundred years ago, it shouldn't be too hard.
posted by felix betachat at 12:41 PM on October 11, 2010


Sorry, haven't read the comments yet. Going back to do it right away.

This is quite an interesting post to make on Thanksgiving, but having just ripped the guts out of a fair size turkey and wrestled it into the oven, I think that Jamie Oliver is the one that's full of it. What's his problem with the chicken nuggets? The texture, or maybe the addition of some skin and connective tissue? Whatever dude.

It's all the same. It's all dead animal parts. I don't understand how he can fetishize one part of the chicken like the drumsticks, and then have such disdain for other pieces of the same animal. Now something like guts I can understand disliking, because there's no easy way to make them edible, and they're probably full of bacteria and what not. But the slivers of meat left on the carcass are perfectly good. In this house we take our turkey carcass and whatever meat is left after three or four suppers, and boil it to make soup. I wonder if Oliver would find that disgusting.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2010


Charley Brooker's takedown of Jamie Oliver on Screenwipe {YT, rough language}. I think it summed up nicely some of your criticisms.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You think you've never ingested ammonia? How exactly would ammonia be harmful in the quantities we might be talking about?

From this New York Times article on ammonia-treated beef:
"Pathogens died when enough ammonia was used to raise the alkalinity of the beef to a high level, company research found. But early on, school lunch officials and other customers complained about the taste and smell of the beef....In early 2003, officials in Georgia returned nearly 7,000 pounds to Beef Products after cooks who were making meatloaf for state prisoners detected a 'very strong odor of ammonia' in 60-pound blocks of the trimmings, state records show....The Beef Products’ study that won U.S.D.A. approval used an ammonia treatment that raised the pH of the meat to as high as 10 [from a natural state of about 6], an alkalinity well beyond the range of most foods."
If the level of ammonia is high enough to cause it to be rejected by a prison because of its odor, if the pH has been increased substantially to a point 'well beyond the range of most foods,' then, yeah, I think it just might be harmful.

What I object to in nuggets is the salt and fat.

I object to that as well, as I've stated in the thread ("The nutritional problem is that it's almost always heavily salted and fried.")
posted by jedicus at 12:49 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


In this house we take our turkey carcass and whatever meat is left after three or four suppers, and boil it to make soup. I wonder if Oliver would find that disgusting.

Yeah, you should really read the comments first. It's been pointed out that Oliver would prefer the use of bird carcasses for soups and the like and has recipes to that effect on his website, along with stories indicating that that's usually what he does with the remains of a Sunday roast.

It's all the same. It's all dead animal parts.

Not after it's been salted, battered, and fried, then served with nutritionally worthless french fries and soda. Yeah, the presentation here was reductive and probably not the most effective, but the broader point is valid.
posted by jedicus at 12:51 PM on October 11, 2010


Speaking very generally, having done work in a number of kinds of processing facilities, you do not want to know where your food comes from. Any of it.
posted by localroger at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the presentation here was reductive and probably not the most effective, but the broader point is valid.

That fried chicken is just as bad as processed nuggets?
posted by smackfu at 12:55 PM on October 11, 2010


I really don't get what the deal is with bacteria contamination. I mean, that's why we cook our food, right? I'm not sure why food moralists keep harping on this point. People have known that undercooked meat is a health risk for thousands of years, and they've known that cooking your food is the best way to mitigate that risk for just about that long.

I just don't get it.
posted by valkyryn at 1:00 PM on October 11, 2010


People have known that undercooked meat is a health risk for thousands of years, and they've known that cooking your food is the best way to mitigate that risk for just about that long.

Or bleach...
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And it's not like undercooked ground chicken is popular, like undercooked burgers are.
posted by smackfu at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2010


I really don't get what the deal is with bacteria contamination

Food doesn't always get cooked thoroughly. Sometimes raw or undercooked food comes into contact with food that isn't cooked or isn't cooked thoroughly (cross-contamination). Some bacteria leave behind toxins that are not destroyed at typical cooking temperatures. Some of the causes of bacterial contamination also cause other kinds of contamination (e.g., rat droppings bring a lot more than E. coli to the party).
posted by jedicus at 1:05 PM on October 11, 2010


Yeah, pretty sure nobody is going to be ordering their pink slurry patties rare in order to enjoy the flavour.
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So anyway folks, you heard it here first: It is scientifically impossible to gte food poisoning from Chicken Nuggets.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2010


Nary a mention of THBQ?

"McNuggets contain the petroleum-based preservative tertiary butylkyroquinone (tBHQ) and the same antifoaming agent found in Silly Putty, dimethylpolysiloxane."

- You'd Be "Silly" to Eat This Food, HealthierTalk.com

(Or has McD's since removed such chemicals from its nuggets?)

The fact that the meat is from the "worst" parts of the bird is far from the biggest reason not to eat McNuggets.

(Oh, sorry. I seem to have conflated "nuggets" with "McNuggets" - I suspect there's likely a huge difference between types of "chicken nuggets.")

Milk, eggs, and honey are all pretty disgusting if you think too hard about the process.

Huh?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:16 PM on October 11, 2010


Jamie Oliver presents these problems like they are the consequence of individual moral failings. I find that approach, for all its utility for television, to be shameful and ultimately counterproductive.

I thought the series was one of the best things I've seen on television in years. (And as an aside, what Jamie Oliver's done for school nutrition in the U.K. is remarkable.) At no point during series, did I get the impression that he felt like he knew how to fix these fat ass rednecks, and it wasn't clear that anything he was going to do was going to succeed, and even at the end Oliver himself raised a lot of questions about whether anything that happened would be sustainable. The show started off with a pretty honest appraisal of the problem: more than 50% of the people in this particular county were going to die prematurely of obesity related diseases. His big interest has always been to look at the schools, and low and behold, there are some very disturbing things going on in the schools -- the kids are getting pizza for breakfast, no one drinks milk unless it's pink or brown and has sugar added to it, and a vegetable that isn't processed, fried, or dowsed in cheese sauce hasn't been consumed in years. Do we agree that there is a problem here?

I think it was pretty bold of the series to demonstrate several failures as well as successes. The linked video here was one of the failures -- it could just as easily have been edited out of the series but in the spirit of honesty it was left in. His hypothesis is that these kids are so used to being given highly processed, calorie dense food (there is a segment of the show where he hold up fresh vegetables to first graders, and no one can name a potato or a carrot) that they have no idea even what a healthy diet looks like. He drew the conclusion, incorrectly as it turned out, that if you take these kids through the processing of their food, they might prefer more whole foods. The fact that they didn't is really interesting and was part of a longer exploration of this problem that the 6 or 8 episodes addressed. I think this FPP would have benefited from more context, and it would seem that the intent was to laugh at the dumb redneck kids. Oliver certainly did not carry this level of disdain for them.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:17 PM on October 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


"McNuggets contain the petroleum-based preservative tertiary butylkyroquinone (tBHQ) and the same antifoaming agent found in Silly Putty, dimethylpolysiloxane."

I hate this bullshit. Just trying to scare people. Petroleum-based isn't bad but it sure sounds like it. And Silly Putty probably has to use food-safe components just because kids might eat it, so it's actually a good thing when it shares ingredients with things.
posted by smackfu at 1:23 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sometimes raw or undercooked food comes into contact with food that isn't cooked or isn't cooked thoroughly (cross-contamination).

Yeah, okay, but to hear the food moralists talk, we're looking at an absolutely massive public health crisis.

But we aren't. We just aren't. There were about two dozen food recalls issued by the USDA this year. The numbers on hospitalizations and deaths don't seem to bear out the theory that this is an issue of immediate public urgency or serious enough to warrant significant changes in consumer behavior. Something like one in five Americans will get sick from something they ate in any given year--and that would count people who eat things they know or should know have spoiled--but only one in a thousand will be hospitalized and one in fifty thousand will die. It only takes two or three people to die in a single outbreak for it to be national news. Frankly, given the fact that we're eating agricultural products, i.e. things which either themselves shit or are sprayed with shit or things even less pleasant, that's an impressively small number.

I still don't get it. The world is full of bacteria and virii, and you're eventually going to eat some. So cook your food and wash your hands. I refuse to countenance the idea that the squick factor of industrial food processing, divorced from any actual facts, should influence our decisionmaking in any significant way.
posted by valkyryn at 1:23 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Milk, eggs, and honey are all pretty disgusting if you think too hard about the process.
Huh?


Honey is bee vomit.

I'm not sure how milk falls into the 'pretty disgusting' unless the cow is sick. (aka puss in the milk) It is, after all, someone's mother's milk.....

Eggs - fetuses.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:26 PM on October 11, 2010


Not after it's been salted, battered, and fried, then served with nutritionally worthless french fries and soda. Yeah, the presentation here was reductive and probably not the most effective, but the broader point is valid.

The broader point may be valid, but it was one that was never made, at least not in that video where he made chicken nuggets for 8-year-olds. If the broader point it "This stuff is bad for you", then he should actually attempt to show the kids why it's bad for them. If he's just hoping that they'll think the process is so gross that they'll avoid heavily-processed food on that basis alone, that's stupid.

To me, the take away message from this video is "Jamie Oliver is foolish for thinking that by showing kids how gross the process is for making chicken nuggets, those kids will think "Oh, I now understand that this food is actually not good for my body. Just because the process which makes it is disgusting."
posted by 23skidoo at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2010


I still don't get it. The world is full of bacteria and virii, and you're eventually going to eat some.

Prions and cancerous flesh are OK too?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2010


Wow, looks like Mefi was all over this right from the start of the thread. Guess that's a lesson about reading the comments before posting.

Incidentally, mek's got a good point way up there at the top. If you really want to put people off meat, or at least make them think hard about where it comes from, then take them on a tour of a farm or ranch. When we get to a point where we look at a tasty roast chicken (or turkey), and see the hen that it originally came from, then we might demand better standards in the care of these animals that give their all for us. Even it raises the price.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2010


I wish the internet would leave my Chicken McNuggets alone.
posted by spilon at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2010


You know, the internets, when your relentless snarky twatitude hits the point where I'm actually finding Jamie Oliver the one that's quite reasonable and nice then that is the day you have unleashed a new for of horror on the world. Thank you for that.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


"If the level of ammonia is high enough to cause it to be rejected by a prison because of its odor, if the pH has been increased substantially to a point 'well beyond the range of most foods,' then, yeah, I think it just might be harmful."

That's misleading. Yes, clearly you can make food unpalatable, inedible, or even immediately toxic if you add enough ammonia. Do you honestly think that's the case with chicken nuggets?

If a lot of a given substance is bad for you, it doesn't necessarily follow that a little is just as bad for you.

Methanol, for instance (see nutrasweet debate). Or meat. Or salt.
posted by etherist at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2010


Slarty Bartfast: I think this FPP would have benefited from more context, and it would seem that the intent was to laugh at the dumb redneck kids. Oliver certainly did not carry this level of disdain for them.

Not sure if you were directly speaking to me, but disdain certainly wasn't my intent. I did think about putting some more info on what Jamie Oliver's been doing with his programs and television series, but even without context it was a pretty powerful segment. I'm not laughing at any kids. I just think he illustrated his point well is all. And I'm enjoying the discussion in the comments -- it's giving me lots to research and think about.
posted by bayani at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2010


I hate this bullshit. Just trying to scare people.

This sort of attitude is how Annie Leonard became a "Big Green"-backed propagandist trying to scare your kids and destroy LEGO.

Why not tell people that tHBQ is in your food and let them decide for themselves?

If food producers were transparent with their ingredients, we wouldn't have this problem.

Petroleum-based isn't bad but it sure sounds like it.

Of course it's not. Much of our food is petroleum-based. But how much of it is enhanced with petroleum-based chemical ingredients? And what are they?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:33 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I think we're generally on the same page.
posted by bayani at 1:34 PM on October 11, 2010


"fat ass rednecks"

best line in the entire thread
posted by A189Nut at 1:49 PM on October 11, 2010


I'm eating a piece of foie gras the size of a paperback book right now, so I'm getting a kick out of these replies.

Okay, I'm not, but I wish I was. Mi-cuit, with a glass of Jurançon.
posted by gimonca at 1:53 PM on October 11, 2010


Slarty Bartfast: He drew the conclusion, incorrectly as it turned out, that if you take these kids through the processing of their food, they might prefer more whole foods.

Also, can we consider splitting the whole vs. processed food debate off from the obesity debate? Organic whole fried chicken (if such a thing exists, I have no idea) would be basically as bad for you. The problem isn't the processed-ness, it's mostly the fat and partly the portion size.

People eat processed food for a reason. I think we could address the obesity thing better by making better processed foods and making people choose better processed foods, than by making them cook.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:54 PM on October 11, 2010


Organic whole fried chicken (if such a thing exists, I have no idea) would be basically as bad for you.

Yeah, of course it exists. Buy an organic chicken, piece it up, batter it in organic cornmeal and organic eggs, fry it in organic vegetable oil.

All organic, all "whole", pretty bad for you.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:01 PM on October 11, 2010


Jamie Oliver showed these kids that a food they love is made in a way that looks gross. In other circumstances, he discusses nutrition and such, but here, he just presented an example of how surprisingly great things come out of weird, gross-looking processes. I'm confused that he got the opposite reaction elsewhere; I can only imagine he presented to kids unfamiliar with the concept of processing or even cooking food, or who hadn't previously had chicken nuggets and knew what they tasted like.
Cake batter looks about that goopy and gross before you cook it.


So, not to pass judgment on chicken nuggets and mechanically separated meat in general, but if there is something actually wrong with the process it is not illustrated here.
posted by EtzHadaat at 2:05 PM on October 11, 2010


People eat processed food for a reason. I think we could address the obesity thing better by making better processed foods and making people choose better processed foods, than by making them cook.

This is probably true, and it makes me sad.

I'm not even sure that "better" processed foods exist. But science is pretty amazing, and can make that chicken slurry taste just like chocolate cake, so I wouldn't put it past the industry to do so.

When I was a kid, I'd see all of these references to food in the future coming in the form of paste out of a tube. They left out the part where it was breaded and deep fried.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:10 PM on October 11, 2010


jabberjaw: This is probably true, and it makes me sad.

Why? People have different priorities and different tastes. I, for instance, hate cooking to the very center of my spirit, and I tend to think processed foods taste better than whole ones anyway. I don't want to eat whole foods. I don't want to be unhealthy either, of course, so I'd prefer a compromise.

I'm not even sure that "better" processed foods exist.

Of course they do. You can't argue that chicken nuggets, fries, and soda are just as bad for your health as, for instance, one of those frozen diet meals despite being equally processed. I maintain that it is possible to make processed food that doesn't ruin your health, we just don't usually choose to.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:23 PM on October 11, 2010


Honey is bee vomit.

And flower sperm, too!
posted by TedW at 2:41 PM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


If he really wanted to make a point he should have introduced the kids to a cute little piggy; let them play with it and keep it as a pet for a month. ... Then he can slaughter the pig in front of them, and turn it into all kinds of delicious meat products...

Kind of like how Gordon Ramsay on his 'F Word' series raised turkeys and pigs in his backyard and had his four children tend to them ... and then later help them understand the concept "from where their food comes."
posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how he can fetishize one part of the chicken like the drumsticks, and then have such disdain for other pieces of the same animal.

FWIW -- Oliver, along with Ramsay, is a promoter and fan of offal.
posted by ericb at 2:58 PM on October 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Pro's of industrially reconstituted meat:
• Tries to economical, less wasteful

Con's of reconstituted:
• One-note texture, uninteresting compared to whole meat
• One-note flavor, uninteresting compared to experiencing different cuts/sources of meat
• Sanitation issues (cannot serve medium-rare, again goes back to texture/flavor issues)
• Health concerns, e.g. carcinogenic preservatives (it's never going to be fresh; generally unclear about the long-term impact of various additives used; problematic because technology keeps changing—see also "meat glue" incident; this area is very hard to regulate; processing is often outsourced to other countries to further reduce costs, etc.…)
• The product is impersonal and hard to relate to (this is where marketing comes in; farm-to-mouth gets just more complicated)

Anything else?
posted by polymodus at 3:00 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the series was one of the best things I've seen on television in years.

I agree.

At no point during series, did I get the impression that he felt like he knew how to fix these fat ass rednecks...

Exactly. He started out working with individual families and schools as a way to make headway in the community -- sometimes with 'bumps.' He sought to get "influencers" involved such as the radio D.J. who was at first against him being there, but by the end became an 'evangelist' for Oliver's approach and goals.

...there is a segment of the show where he hold up fresh vegetables to first graders, and no one can name a potato or a carrot...

Video of that segment: Potato or tomato.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


...there is a segment of the show where he hold up fresh vegetables to first graders, and no one can name a potato or a carrot...

Oh, and the teachers and staff of the elementary school were shocked and sought to teach all of the kids about fruits and vegetables. A follow-up session showed that the children could correctly identify the food stuffs, as well as tell something about each.
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prions and cancerous flesh are OK too?

1) Cook your damn food.

2) I fail to see, having seen how meat is slaughtered in both industrial and small-shop outfits, how processing makes this any more of a problem than it already is.
posted by valkyryn at 3:25 PM on October 11, 2010


My take on this is a bit different.

Jamie's message here seems to be: you should be disgusted. But why should we be disgusted? It doesn't serve humanity to be disgusted by safe but low-quality or mediocre foods.

If we as humans had a deep aversion to very disgusting or unpleasant things being converted into edibles, it's pretty unlikely that we would have survived as a species. Nearly all of us as humans, and even as children, ultimately have the ability to overcome any disgust of crawling in the dirt and battling insects to grow plants, or to overcome concern about hunting and preparing meat for food.

As such, even if Jamie had shown the kids the chicken being killed and defeathered, or even took them to a repulsive-smelling, unsettling factory farm, we're so resilient as humans that it's unlikely that the kids would adjust their eating habits. After all, if early humans were disgusted by the often grisly options the Earth provided, even in famine, and had instead turned up their noses and looked askance on those who ate such things, well, I wouldn't be here using some sort of marvelous vast global network to proffer my opinion.

That being said, I find the current child's diet to be vaguely unsettling. The reason isn't chicken nuggets all by themself -- it's that chicken nuggets, pizza and buttered pasta have become so ubiquitous as a sort of "kid chow," and that with the advent of microwave foods that kids can cook themselves, it's very easily possible that that's *all* a kid could eat from the time they're 3 until they're teens.

Let me rephrase that: it's very easy, in our current society, for kids to only eat "kid's food." Which is almost invariably nutritionally incomplete, and teaches poor habits regarding food preparation and nutrition.

To put that in perspective, let me take the example of cartoons. I love cartoons. I think kids *should* watch cartoons. I love it when my stepdaughter enjoys cartoons. And certainly, we've had cartoons for generations. I don't think cartoons are bad. Au contraire!

But it's a little weird when, with the advent of TV and the Internet, that cartoons or electronic "kid's programming" is available 24 hours a day. And that kids will often just sit and absorb cartoons or similar kid's programming for hours if they get the chance. And they turn into zombies. It's just plain weird. In the old days, the movie theater owner would turn up the lights and tell the kids to get out. Or on Saturday afternoon, the farm report or Babe Winkleman would come on, with the end results of the kids turning off the TV. And that would mean one of three things: the kid would have to figure out a different kind of play for themselves, or would have to go engage in activities with their parents or peers. And both, for obvious reasons, are generally considered to be good developmentally.

As such, the scarcity of cartoons or kid's programming made such things a wonderful treat, a brightly-colored dessert to briefly take you away the stultifying boredom of the rest of being a kid. And we all know what happens when a kid's allowed to watch cartoons all the time: it ends up being like that awesome Joe Dante section of the Twilight Zone movie where little Anthony doesn't turn out quite right.

It used to be the same thing with food. You used to have two choices -- pick at whatever your parents were eating and learn to like it, or grilled cheese. And grilled cheese gets old really quick.

I have no problem with chicken nuggets. I find them delicious! I don't find them remotely disgusting. I can completely empathize with the kids, who will gladly chomp away at chicken nuggets day after day given the possibility, even after seeing how they're made.

This issue, of course, is that it really is possible for them to chomp away day after day. "Kid chow," like brightly-colored vapid kid's programming, is omnipresent. Kids get accustomed to eating yummy, fatty, salty, delicious things that hipsters find disgusting -- and when you get used to something that's delicious, it's can be depressing or unsettling to switch to normal, healthy, less fatty/salty/sugary food.

So let's stop ragging on chicken nuggets for a while. Let's stop ragging on soda or ice cream or whatever happens to be delicious and virtually useless nutritionally.

Instead, let's agree that those things are perfectly safe, and healthy when eaten occasionally along side a diet that emphasizes lean proteins and vitamin-rich fruits and veggies. Let's agree that cartoons are fun but let's save it for Saturday morning or maybe one or two after homework is done.

But that will never happen. There's no bad guy there! There's nowhere to look down on people or products or processes. There's no way to register disgust!

That's the problem with moderation. No ecstatic binging, no schadenfreude! Ah, what a bland, lifeless, wonderful existence we all would lead.
posted by eschatfische at 3:36 PM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


polymodus, most of your "cons" could just as easily be perceived as "pros."
  • Consistent texture, flavor, and portion size
  • Consistent preparation
  • Finely tuned preservative and sanitation technologies can be used that don't scale down to small operations
  • Large plants have frequent USDA inspection and in some cases a constant on-site presence, and written procedures which are very effective when followed
  • You know what you're getting. Surprising food can be an adventure, but it can also suck if you just want to keep your belly from rumbling through the afternoon at work.
Now, that said, I like a well prepared piece of natural meat as well as the next person (though I find bone-in chicken and smaller game birds, while very tasty, a bit of a project to eat). And after my first visit to a meat processing plant (actually a very clean one) in the mid-1980's it was a month before I could bring myself to eat another hamburger. But that's not a rational reaction and most people would be pretty squicked out even at an accurate description of the slaughter and processing of natural organic meat.

In any case people don't buy anything with a mc-prefix in order to "relate" to it. Sometimes you live to eat, but sometimes you just eat to live.
posted by localroger at 3:49 PM on October 11, 2010


jabberjaw: This is probably true, and it makes me sad.

Mitrovarr: Why?


I'm not sure. I'll talk to my therapist tomorrow. I didn't realize that we started having to explain why we're sad about things. But, I'm really glad you asked, it makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy that you're concerned about my emotional state.

Does anybody want to try to disvalidate my warm fuzzies now?
posted by jabberjaw at 4:30 PM on October 11, 2010


I've worked in reality TV quite a bit. Please don't believe everything (really, anything) you see on these programs.
posted by Kloryne at 4:49 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prions and cancerous flesh are OK too?

The response?

1) Cook your damn food.

Cooking doesn't effect prions according to the science.

The tumors - depends. If it is from heavy metals or an embedded radioactive source - cooking will have no effect. But a tumor is "just protein" and "its all just protein" has been given as an acceptable answer.

2) I fail to see, having seen how meat is slaughtered in both industrial and small-shop outfits

I'd like to think the small-shop would have more concern.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:56 PM on October 11, 2010


Honey is bee vomit.
And flower sperm, too!


Typically the sperm is eaten by the mostly female bees (and by the males) so they grow up from a small, wee egg to a big bee. Sure, some sperm is in it. But so are GMO and pesticides. And it has fructose - the same stuff ya'll hate in HFCS. No wonder it was called scary.

(Insect horror pr0n)
Yup, a society of women powered by plant sperm.
And they are looking to sting you.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:02 PM on October 11, 2010


Say hello to mechanically separated chicken. Looks just like strawberry ice cream. Yum!
posted by crunchland at 5:04 PM on October 11, 2010


• Consistent texture, flavor, and portion size
You mean consistently inferior taste. Find me one person who claims that the texture and flavor of a piece of grilled Arctic Char is not more stimulating and engaging than the well-done white of a cooked chicken nugget.

Richness of taste and predictability of taste are independent metrics. Take high-end cooking for example—the 5-star restaurants are always striving for both, or they would be out of business. But the tradeoff in the case of reconstituted meat is too great, from a culinary perspective: just imagine generations of people growing up with underdeveloped palates—everything they've experienced is just grey and beige, and they like it.

• Consistent preparation
Sure, this is a positive point. Easier/faster to cook is always a nice thing.

• Finely tuned preservative and sanitation technologies can be used that don't scale down to small operations
Preservatives are bad for you. They cause cancer; there are medical studies for this. Ask your doctor; they will tell you processed food is generally bad for you.
They implement just enough tech to pass the food regulators. It's not to benefit the people who end up eating it. This is a con, because if it were a whole food, you wouldn't need all this technological and regulatory infrastructure to begin with.

Large plants have frequent USDA inspection and in some cases a constant on-site presence, and written procedures which are very effective when followed
Appeal to methodology. Following the rules doesn't make it okay. The scientific verdict is still out. There is virtually no public information about the long-term consequences of regularly consuming highly processed foods such as reconstituted meat. There is history of incidental problems with such foods because the tech keeps changing, while the regulators lag behind. You have to protect yourself at some point.

You know what you're getting. Surprising food can be an adventure, but it can also suck if you just want to keep your belly from rumbling through the afternoon at work.

Whole food doesn't have to be "surprising", in either sense of the word. In many places around the world, fresh food is still common and enjoyed.
The predictability that is built into processed food is largely for the benefit of an industry trying to mine out the economic margins. Traditionally cooked food is already predictable enough; humans have honed it to a fine art over thousands of years. And there are some who advocate throwing that out the window in favor of some measure of "efficiency".

Everything in moderation. Alternatives abound, but people are in denial about it.
posted by polymodus at 5:12 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


ericb, when I was about 8, my father raised a group of turkeys in our backyard. It happened to be in my sandbox which was conveniently fenced off from the rest of the yard. This was in a nice middle-class suburb in the 1970's.

I fed them daily, but I didn't grow close to them. They weren't pets, and turkeys aren't very personable.

Then, just before Thanksgiving, he slaughtered them and hung them from my swingset to drain the blood. A few neighbors were shocked (I remember the look on their faces), but despite not really being a farm kid, I wasn't. I happily ate that delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

My father would also take me along when he selected the steer that he was going to buy and have cut-up to be put in our deep-freeze. This also didn't faze me at all.

So, don't be so sure that having the kids raise the animals would change a thing. It certainly didn't for me. These days I raise chickens - for the eggs. My children feed them and I have allowed them to name the birds (which I wouldn't if they were to be slaughtered). I wouldn't want to raise "fryers", but not because of affection, just because I wouldn't enjoy cleaning them after slaughter. I prefer just buying the pre-cleaned meat.
posted by Invoke at 5:32 PM on October 11, 2010


You mean consistently inferior taste. Find me one person who claims that the texture and flavor of a piece of grilled Arctic Char is not more stimulating and engaging than the well-done white of a cooked chicken nugget.

Me. I lurve me some McD's chicken nuggets.

The rest of your over-ripe sanctimony I could do without. If I wanted to be preached at, I'd go to church.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:45 PM on October 11, 2010


Well polymodus, as Pogo_Fuzzybutt demonstrates the "inferiority" of a subjective experience like taste is subjective. Coming from southern Louisiana I find most food from other parts of the country quite bland, and when I eat supposedly Cajun food elsewhere, unless I make it known where I'm from, I often find that even Louisiana-bred chefs (of whom there are a lot nowadays thanks to Katrina) are dialing the seasoning back for the sensibilities of their local audience.

People who are raised on bland food with perfectly even texture will think that's normal and better than food with all kinds of "interesting" stuff embedded in it. I personally hate eating quail even though I love the taste, because picking it apart is such a project for the amount of meat you get. And while I do love me a good smoked turkey drumstick I hate all the little structural elements that you have to pull out of the meat.

As for your other statements, you make some blanket statements that are certainly true sometimes but certainly aren't universal either. Not all preservatives are bad for you; a lot of them are antioxidants. Having worked at quite a few plants I can tell you that while yes, they do try to implement the minimum tech necessary it's not "just to appeal to regulators." None of them want their customers getting sick. That too is bad for business. It's the tension between stated goals and workfloor pressures that cause shortcuts to be taken, and that's true even in Pop's Butcher Shop.

See, even Pop's time-proven procedures for keeping things clean are "methodologies" that might or not be adequate (best not be eating cow brains nowadays no matter how well you fry them) and might or might not be followed (Oh, Mom put the carrots down on the tabletop where the pork was cut up, that's why the salmonella outbreak). Big plants have bigger challenges but also devote more resources to them because they have to. Saying "appeal to methodology" is not a valid criticism though; you have to show what is wrong with their methodology. I've been in sloppy plants and in plants so paranoid Pop would look like a total slob next to them. Corporate culture varies just as one butcher might be more careful than another.

And while alternatives certainly do abound, most of them are a lot more expensive and inconvenient. Would I love to have a couple of nice basted quail for lunch? Sure. Can I eat them in half an hour? Dream on.
posted by localroger at 6:11 PM on October 11, 2010


I'd like to think the small-shop would have more concern.

Facts, please? We're talking about a process the very essence of which is spraying blood everywhere. There isn't any clean way of slaughtering an animal. It's a messy, ugly process, even when done humanely. No one, even small butchers--of which there are fewer and fewer these days--is going to thoroughly clean and sterilize their entire shop between animals. It's just not worth it.

If prions are, as you say, a problem--documented cases of prion disease in human are vanishingly rare, so I'm completely not sold on that--then the only way to avoid exposure entirely is not to eat meat.

I'm not gonna do that.

The long and short of it is that I categorically refuse to treat food as some kind of overarching moral issue--Christianity more or less explicitly excludes it--and I also categorically refuse to radically adjust my lifestyle in an attempt to avoid conditions which are poorly documented and less common than lightning strikes. I will eat that combination of food which represents an optimal coordination of convenience, taste, nutrition, and cost.
posted by valkyryn at 6:16 PM on October 11, 2010


The story here should be about McDonald's food sourcing practices and additives

Well, thats certainly not what the post/video is about. It's about what parts are gross. I mean that's all he really talks about. Which is why I'm not impressed -- as a former/still mostly vegetarian, I don't find some parts particularly more disgusting than others. I agree something like food sourcing / animal welfare is MUCH more important, but it's not relevant to this video in any way I can see. (My point being to despair that the discussion isn't about that makes no sense, the post isn't about that...)

just imagine generations of people growing up with underdeveloped palates—everything they've experienced is just grey and beige, and they like it

Oh noes, the horrors... oh wait, I'm not really sure why thats bad. I mean, I understand there are foodies out there who geek out over this stuff, and that's cool. I do that with other things (I couldn't drive a crap car, or use a netbook instead of my desktop, etc). But we don't all care about taste that much. Nutrition is a bigger issue, but is NOT really correlated with taste (can be, but there's very tasty food thats really bad for you, and healthy food that tastes horrible).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:21 PM on October 11, 2010


So what I'm getting is chicken nuggets- which don't work without piles of stabilizer, flavoring and breadcrumbs- are proof of American know-how and commonsense.

Perfect.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:21 PM on October 11, 2010


I'm pretty saddened to see so many members of this site being willfully obtuse. Oliver, for all his personality (which some like, evidently most don't) is a chef. All of the comments about him being the sort to just dump the carcass? Chefs tend to need to get most value from what they buy, it tends to keep restaurants open. The carcass becomes stock, the liver becomes pate, the shit gets used. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when we're willing to defend mechanical meat extraction over the idea of using bones to make decent stock. (Or just sauteing the neck. Chicken necks have the best meat.)

People are pissed because he's trying to get people to eat better? He's, for better or worse, a celebrity chef, and he seems to be using his celebrity to try and make things better for people, which is pretty damn rare in and of itself. Coming down on him for being elitist, for hating chicken nuggets misses the point. For a lot of the people he's working to help, chicken nuggets are an everyday food. Half of this thread is people saying 'Why is he so critical of chicken nuggets? I like chicken nuggets (but I don't eat them all the time).' He's trying to educate people who don't realize how bad it is to eat them all the time.

Hell, the only thing I learned about nutrition in junior high was to sop up the grease in the pizza rectangles with roughly 8-10 napkins before I picked it up. School lunches are a freaking disgrace (is ketchup still considered a vegetable serving?), and when someone tries to make things better, everyone goes beserk. His approach isn't perfect, but for fuck's sake, at least he's trying.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:52 PM on October 11, 2010 [12 favorites]


Facts, please? We're talking about a process the very essence of which is spraying blood everywhere. There isn't any clean way of slaughtering an animal. It's a messy, ugly process, even when done humanely

Given your 'facts' are what you personally observed I will give my on the farm on and hunting observation.

In both cases, animals that are sick don't become our food. The sick get dumped into a hole then covered with dirt - if they are farm critters.

In both cases, things like head and neck shots do not 'spray blood' everywhere. One deer I took down left a half dollar blood spot and was quite alive but with a severed spinal cord. A simple swipe of the knife across the neck got the blood on the blade and on the ground - hardly "spraying blood everywhere". A 30-30 to the brain case - a hole in the front none in the back of the head - how much more humane do you want? (1000 foot pounds of energy reduced to 0 in the brain case)

If personal observation is the bar - there ya go. Personal observations that are not 'blood spray everywhere'.

If prions are, as you say, a problem--documented cases of prion disease in human are vanishingly rare, so I'm completely not sold on that--then the only way to avoid exposure entirely is not to eat meat.

Don't eat meat you don't know the condition of the animal. It seems prions exist in fish but are not transmittable to mammals/mammalian prions don't seem to effect fish - so the meat of fish seem to be safe.

For the rest of you who want something to read on prions:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.cfm
Note how downer cows are no longer to be fed to other cows but can be fed to chickens.
If Prions are such a non-event .... why is the USDA not allowing Creekstone Farms to test each of their slaughtered cows for prions? Are they afraid of something?

I also categorically refuse to radically adjust my lifestyle

I've heard that somewhere before - the American Way of Life is non negotiable. I believe the guy who said that now has no pulse and yet walks among us.

I will eat that combination of food which represents an optimal coordination of cost.

Fixed that for ya as a reflection of the way most of America eats.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:59 PM on October 11, 2010


He's trying to educate people who don't realize how bad it is to eat them all the time

Watching it again, I don't really see that in this video, though. It really is basically "isn't this gross?". Which doesn't teach them anything. He doesn't say anything about whats in the "stabilizer" (maybe bad stuff? who knows!).
posted by wildcrdj at 7:24 PM on October 11, 2010


The clip in the post is from a series of episodes about trying to improve food choices and habits through education. As mentioned previously, it's notable that the show focuses on his failures (the clip in question) as well as the limited successes.

I think it's a pretty terrifying proposition that 'isn't this gross' isn't the deterrent he clearly thought it would be. He certainly could have gone about it better (my guess is he's not a child psychologist or K-6 educator), and perhaps, given a second chance, he will.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:29 PM on October 11, 2010


things like head and neck shots do not 'spray blood' everywhere

Butchers of both the smallest and largest scales do not use "shots" to dispatch their animals. They sever the jugular so as to ensure a nice quick death, and blood does indeed go all over the place. Hunting and butchery are not quite the same thing. A small farmer will butcher a pig by hoisting it and cutting its neck; blood goes everywhere. As you take the animal apart blood gets on everything. It can't be avoided and if you're doing production it's very, very expensive to do a total clean-down between animals.
posted by localroger at 8:03 PM on October 11, 2010


The rest of your over-ripe sanctimony I could do without. If I wanted to be preached at, I'd go to church.

It has nothing to with morals. You can enjoy crappy food/art/music, that doesn't change the fact that it's crappy. It would be immoral to lie about it.
posted by polymodus at 8:03 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


People who are raised on bland food with perfectly even texture will think that's normal and better than food with all kinds of "interesting" stuff embedded in it.

Counterexample: Chinese rice is bland, and it's still better than reconstituted chicken meat.

It's contradictory anyways, because they have to batter it and fry it up. That's sort of a tacit admission that the ingredient itself can't fundamentally stand on its own, unlike a whole piece of chicken.
posted by polymodus at 8:10 PM on October 11, 2010


Not all preservatives are bad for you; a lot of them are antioxidants

I can't agree with this line of reasoning, because you cannot pick and choose your additives. You eat the whole thing, carcinogens included.
posted by polymodus at 8:11 PM on October 11, 2010


I wouldn't argue that chicken nuggets are not delicious.

I wouldn't argue that being sheltered from the gory details of how our food gets into tidy freezer boxes is a big part of why we like these foods.

I wouldn't even argue that the factory conditions of farms, or the preservatives and artificial colors that go into foods are really that terrible for us.

I would argue forcefully that it is much easier to overconsume calories when you eat processed foods over whole foods.

I would argue that people who habitually microwave convenience foods to eat in front of the TV, or drive through McDonald's to stuff something in their faces on the way to work have souls that are deeply corrupted.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:26 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


It has nothing to with morals. You can enjoy crappy food/art/music, that doesn't change the fact that it's crappy. It would be immoral to lie about it.

Oh bullshit. Food is a moral endeavor these days. Whatever it is you eat, for whatever reason, makes you a bad person and you should feel bad.

That's why all vegan recipes suck so bad - to punish you for having to eat.

It's the "your favorite band sucks" with dipshit supercilious vegan tut-tutting instead of dipshit supercilious audiophile douchebag tut-tutting, but it's no less excremental.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:30 PM on October 11, 2010


Slarty Bartfast: I would argue that people who habitually microwave convenience foods to eat in front of the TV, or drive through McDonald's to stuff something in their faces on the way to work have souls that are deeply corrupted.

Why? I'm curious about this. I can understand avoiding it for health reasons, although I think you can manage those if you try. What I can't imagine is having a moral grudge against it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:39 PM on October 11, 2010


Pogo, I'm not sure who you're swinging at, but it's pretty clear that Oliver isn't a vegan. He's not calling anyone a bad person (with the exception of administrators that put low prices in the cafeteria over student health), he's trying to point out that there are ways of eating healthier, of eating food that's delicious but not horrible for you. The point he's trying to make (as mentioned above with the comment about students being unable to name common vegetables) is that a lot of people know nothing about nutrition. He's not condemning people for having mcnuggets as a 'guilty pleasure', he's trying to point out that a lot of people think there's nothing wrong, from a health standpoint, of eating McNuggets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I can't find the article at the moment, but a couple years ago, when Kwame Brown was the number 1 overall pick in the NBA, the team ended up having to assign an assistant coach to essentially live with him and explain the basics of living alone. Since signing his contract and getting a condo in Washington, living on his own, his diet consisted of eating KFC twice a day, because it was all he was familiar with. He had no idea that it was bad for him. He's not an isolated example. Millions of Americans have no idea how bad fast/junk food is for their health. At the same time, access to better food is difficult, at best. These are huge problems, and just sitting back doing nothing isn't working.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:45 PM on October 11, 2010


Not all preservatives are bad for you; a lot of them are antioxidants

Well, yes. An "antioxidant" is a type of preservative that reduces spoilage caused by oxidation. Popular antioxidant food additives include butylated hydroxyanisole (aka BHA, E320) and butylated hydroxytoluene (aka BHT, E321); both of those substances are suspected carcinogens. Yum!

Vitamin C is also a preservative. So is sugar. So is salt. So is alcohol. So is formaldehyde. So is DDT. So is arsenic. (Hint: Some of those aren't so good for you.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:47 PM on October 11, 2010


Maybe these kids have just watched a lot of Fear Factor.
posted by Marla Singer at 9:14 PM on October 11, 2010


not "just to appeal to regulators." None of them want their customers getting sick.

Right, they do just enough to stay in business. Balanced nutrition? Out the window. Tasty food (in comparison to real food)? Out the window.

Sanitation is problematic at all scales of operation. Sanitation for meat slurry is more complex and expensive than what is required for industrial whole meat. It also fundamentally fails compared to whole meat, because you can't ever have properly cooked reconstituted meat—it is always required to be overdone, hence the inferior texture (and this was my original bullet point).

Saying "appeal to methodology" is not a valid criticism though; you have to show what is wrong with their methodology.

Well, I wasn't the one who raised a point about inspections and procedures, so why is the onus on me to clarify the connection here? As for my part, first, it isn't that far-fetched to expect unanticipated problems cropping up in complex, large-scale production chains; it's happened in the past, and it will happen again. In every large system, there are unknown unknowns. The regulators are not omniscient.

The question is simple: does consuming foods such as reconstituted meat pose significant health risks or costs compared to eating whole meat? Doctors and nutritionists have been saying, Avoid. It would be wise to heed their advice, in absence of better information.

And while alternatives certainly do abound, most of them are a lot more expensive and inconvenient.

Statistics show that Americans spend proportionately the least on food compared to other countries. Good, healthy food does not come cheap. It is going to have to be a conscious decision. If you want to experiment your body on industrial food, I can't stop you. I'll be on the fence, thanks. But the uninformed deserve to know what the potential issues are.

Would I love to have a couple of nice basted quail for lunch? Sure. Can I eat them in half an hour? Dream on.

This is exactly the denial about alternatives that I'm talking about. Sandwiches. Vegetarian. There are plenty of healthy, cheap meals out there that aren't that hard to put together. And if people continue to be content with the base junk that the (American) food supply puts out, then they will never have a reason to make good ingredients widely available.
posted by polymodus at 9:36 PM on October 11, 2010


Slarty Bartfast: I would argue that people who habitually microwave convenience foods to eat in front of the TV, or drive through McDonald's to stuff something in their faces on the way to work have souls that are deeply corrupted.

Why? I'm curious about this. I can understand avoiding it for health reasons, although I think you can manage those if you try. What I can't imagine is having a moral grudge against it.


Because eating is a social and cultural activity. A slow meal around the family dinner table nourishes us physically and emotionally. Eating fresh foods that we prepare ourselves connects us to the Earth. Burger King and frozen pizza do none of this. It is all about how we choose to live our lives and how we see ourselves in the world.

I'm not militant about this, I've been known to scarf a drunken Big Mac once in a while, it's just that for large segments of the population, members of my extended family included, eating has changed dramatically and it's hard not to connect it to a host of medical and societal problems we face. Yes, correlation vs causation etc...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:40 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's the "your favorite band sucks" with dipshit supercilious vegan tut-tutting instead of dipshit supercilious audiophile douchebag tut-tutting, but it's no less excremental.

People don't die or otherwise fall ill from listening to bad music. If people insult you for the way you live, that's their problem. But it is possible to have serious discussions about health and culture.
posted by polymodus at 9:45 PM on October 11, 2010


Slarty Bartfast: Because eating is a social and cultural activity. A slow meal around the family dinner table nourishes us physically and emotionally. Eating fresh foods that we prepare ourselves connects us to the Earth. Burger King and frozen pizza do none of this. It is all about how we choose to live our lives and how we see ourselves in the world.

I guess I can kind of see what you mean, but I seem to not work that way. I don't think I have trouble connecting to the Earth; I'm currently pursuing a graduate degree in biology. I pursue connection to the Earth and the Universe through other means. I wouldn't have time to do that if I spent all of my time cooking and procuring fresh foods.

I guess I'm just trying to suggest that because cooking and eating is meaningful to you, doesn't mean it is for everyone, or that it has to be for everyone. It really isn't for me, particularly not if I do it alone, and I don't want to waste time on it that I could be doing something I enjoy.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:57 PM on October 11, 2010


Eating fresh foods that we prepare ourselves connects us to the Earth.

That and the gravity.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:09 PM on October 11, 2010 [9 favorites]


> Eating fresh foods that we prepare ourselves connects us to the Earth.

I agree, but Metafilter-at-large refuses to do this sort of sentiment well, and it's really casting pearls before swine. Factual conversations are usually fine here. Value-based conversations bring out the yapping dogs.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:13 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You mean metafilter at large refuses to agree with you, but that's ok, since you have Values, which are categorically different from the mere beliefs and opinions that other people hold.
posted by Pyry at 3:30 AM on October 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Is a new generation just realizing that the nuggets their sainted parents slapped down in front of them were wholly processed crap or what? What is the big deal, exactly? Where did you guys think nuggets came from?

I was born in '82 and children's menus always had sausages, nuggets or fish-fingers on them - it may have changed now, but they were thought to have very different tastes than adults. I had friends who wouldn't eat 'foreign food', including pizza, whereas my parents tried to get me to eat veg, different cheeses and olives. Some parents didn't grow up eating a lot of different types of food, so they will feed their kids what they ate as children, or what they can cook. A lot of people buy chicken nuggets because they are cheap and they know kids will probably eat them and an expensive meal won't go in the bin - and there are families so badly off that their school lunch might be the only hot meal of the day.

Weird what squicks people out, though - I'm happy to eat at McDonald's, for example, but I only eat plain or organic yogurt because I don't like flavourings. If you eat margarine you're probably eating more 'additives' than in a chicken nugget.

(Having said that, my mum thinks organic food is actively harmful as our body has now grown used to the pesticides and it will make us sick to stop eating them. Also, I didn't have pesto or butternut squash until I was about 19.)
posted by mippy at 3:59 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Statistics show that Americans spend proportionately the least on food compared to other countries. Good, healthy food does not come cheap. It is going to have to be a conscious decision. If you want to experiment your body on industrial food, I can't stop you. I'll be on the fence, thanks. But the uninformed deserve to know what the potential issues are.

Would I love to have a couple of nice basted quail for lunch? Sure. Can I eat them in half an hour? Dream on.

This is exactly the denial about alternatives that I'm talking about. Sandwiches. Vegetarian. There are plenty of healthy, cheap meals out there that aren't that hard to put together.


You can't have it both ways. Either "good healthy food does not come cheap" or "there are plenty of healthy cheap meals out there". Which one is it?
posted by 23skidoo at 5:14 AM on October 12, 2010


I just bought a bag of tortilla chips. If I'd eaten them all, and then opened another bag, I could have had a day's worth of calories for £1. Or I could have gone and bought a salad from Pret for £4. If I'm short of money, and I'm not sure I like vegetables much, it's easy to see what I'd pick. If I could cook, or if I was familiar with a wide range of food, it would be easier, but let's presume I am not.
posted by mippy at 6:48 AM on October 12, 2010


> You mean metafilter at large refuses to agree with you, but that's ok, since you have Values, which are categorically different from the mere beliefs and opinions that other people hold.

No, I meant what I said, and capitalized "values" because it was at the beginning of a sentence. Thanks for twisting my words and thanks to the dolts who favorited it.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:08 AM on October 12, 2010


I would argue that people who habitually microwave convenience foods to eat in front of the TV, or drive through McDonald's to stuff something in their faces on the way to work have souls that are deeply corrupted.

I do both more often than I care to admit. My soul is not corrupted. Rather, I work 50 hours a week with two small children (boys ages 5 & 2 1/2), both of whom have special needs, and on top of that - I'm pregnant.

You can judge me all you want, but the fact of the matter is that some of us are literally too tired to cook. As in, I would probably fall asleep before the meal was done and there's a chance my kitchen might burn down in the process.

It is all about how we choose to live our lives and how we see ourselves in the world.

Not always. I would love to eat better. I would LOVE to have slow meals around the table and cook my own food. But the fact of the matter is that no matter how I "see myself" there literally is not time in the day for me to do this and still have a job, shower, and maintain anything resembling a "life" outside of said job. For some people, "quick" food (not necessarily fast food, but leaning towards pre-prepared rather than starting from scratch) is a necessary evil. My own mother loves cooking more than just about anything else and there were times in my childhood when our dinners consisted mostly from Food Out of A Box because she was working 12 hr nursing shifts and couldn't also cook a full dinner on top of her hectic schedule.

It really sticks in my craw when people judge everyone who eats "poorly" as being deficient, as if you look into people's lives, they're often really complicated and choices around food are always deeply personal and not really anyone else's call to make.
posted by sonika at 7:27 AM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


A few weeks ago CBS Sunday Morning showed this segment: Our Man In Paris : France's Gourmet School Lunches:
"American kids are into the Fall term by now - and back into the school lunch routine. French school kids are, too. And vive le difference, says David Turecamo, who reports on the dietary regimen of the gourmet lunches served in French schools."
It's a fascinating look at the quality and preparation of food in schools around the country.

Video | [05:55].
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on October 12, 2010


No, I meant what I said, and capitalized "values" because it was at the beginning of a sentence. Thanks for twisting my words and thanks to the dolts who favorited it.

This favorite-happy swine says You're Welcome!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:10 AM on October 12, 2010


YouTube: France's Gourmet School Lunches.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on October 12, 2010


Amen, sonika. Hang in there.

Let's be fair to modern parents. Life is exceedingly complicated and often full of many demands for our time. Sure, some of that is our choice, but not always.

My wife and I both feel strongly about making dinner at home and sitting down with our daughter for a home-cooked meal. We both have decent jobs and (fairly) reasonable schedules. I pick up my daughter from daycare in the late afternoon, walk home from daycare (lucky and rare, I think), play for maybe 15-20 minutes, and then I start dinner.

My daughter is very well behaved, but she's 2. Making dinner and watching my daughter at the same time is no easy task. And that's 1 child. My wife comes home usually right at dinner time or after, and helps with post-dinner potty/bath/bed while I do dishes or vice versa. Then after we get her to sleep, we go back to the kitchen and make her lunch for the next day.

By this time, depending on the day's events, it's 8:30-9pm, and I have to wake up each morning at 5:15am. So, my wife and I usually spend some alone time together (which would be my chance to try to get some (rare) action), or pay bills ... or get groceries ... or clean the toilet ... or fill out health insurance forms ... or take out the trash and recycling ... or clean the compost ... or talk to the downstairs neighbor who seems to think our daughter is the devil for running around the house at (gasp) 8:30am ...

Now imagine that you also have an elderly parent to care for, or a child with autism, or any of the other million complications of modern civilization?

"I don't know if we'll have enough time." (Once it hits your lips it's so good.)

Like I said, I think I have a fairly cushy situation, and even then it's still not easy to make a home-cooked meal every night. The days of having one stay-at-home parent continue to dwindle away...

That's why all vegan recipes suck so bad - to punish you for having to eat.

Poor Pogo. Bad tofu? Let me make you some special vegan cookies, sweetie. You'll see the light.

No, I meant what I said, and capitalized "values" because it was at the beginning of a sentence. Thanks for twisting my words and thanks to the dolts who favorited it.

Ha. Somebody unfavorited it after you called them a dolt. (*high fives Sys Rq*)

I favorited it. You guys are basically stating a personal religious belief and then claiming that it's universal to all humankind. Universal values/beliefs/opinions (if there are any) change over time. You may as well claim that non-monogamists have "corrupt souls." /DOLT
posted by mrgrimm at 8:22 AM on October 12, 2010


A lot of the judgment that's being thrown around here of those who choose the fast food option requires a giant sidestep of the humongous problem this country has with food deserts.

A huge, huge number of those "corrupt souls" you disdain for eating their microwave convenience foods or sack of McDonald's instead of something fresh and healthy do so because they literally have no choice otherwise.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:22 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I favorited it. You guys are basically stating a personal religious belief and then claiming that it's universal to all humankind.

Again with the word twisting. I didn't say anything was universal, only that Metafilter doesn't do value-based discussions very well.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:23 AM on October 12, 2010


He's, for better or worse, a celebrity chef, and he seems to be using his celebrity to try and make things better for people, which is pretty damn rare in and of itself.

Yeah -- and what did his celebrity do for British School Dinners after his British television mini-series?

Oh, got 271,677 people to sign an online petition on the 'Feed Me Better' campaign website, which was delivered to 10 Downing Street on March 30, 2005.* The result: Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged an additional £280 Million for 3 years, and a trust (the School Food Trust) to allow schools without kitchens to build, a pledge to consider a series of training kitchens across the country, and creation of a voluntary code of conduct concerning advertising of junk food to children.*

Feed Me Better Manifesto
1. Make cooking and life skills classes compulsory for ALL kids so they learn about food and good eating habits while they’re young. Our kids need to be equipped to understand food, cook and shop on a budget, which are essential life skills.

2. Recruit and train new cookery teachers, otherwise the new entitlement to cookery lessons won’t be able to happen.

3. Empower heads to make every school a junk-free zone.

4. Educate parents and help them to understand the basics of family cooking and responsible nutrition.

5. Invest in dinner ladies with proper training and appropriate, paid hours to cook food and not just re-heat junk.

6. Commit to a ten-year strategic plan and fund a long-term public campaign to get people back onto a proper diet and empower/persuade (and possibly scare, if needed) the public into making better choices.
What a goddamn self-centered ineffective celebrity he is!
posted by ericb at 8:52 AM on October 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


...the 'Feed Me Better' campaign...

Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution' campaign here in the States.

When in Huntington, WV for the three-months of filming 'Food Revolution' one of the many things he did was to build and donate to the town a free cooking school. He hopes other communities do the same, just as his Food Centres have done in England.

BTW -- he also puts his money where his mouth (heh!) is: The Jamie Oliver Foundation.
posted by ericb at 9:06 AM on October 12, 2010


I thought Jamie Oliver's American show was fantastic. It's one of the few TV shows I can remember watching this past year.

Apparently it won an Emmy and will be returning for season 2. Who knew?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:25 AM on October 12, 2010


"This is the latest," said Crake.

What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing.

"What the hell is it?" said Jimmy.

"Those are chickens," said Crake. "Chicken parts. Just the breasts, on this one. They've got ones that specialize in drumsticks too, twelve to a growth unit.

"But there aren't any heads..."

"That's the head in the middle," said the woman. "There's a mouth opening at the top, they dump nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don't need those."
posted by Scoop at 10:54 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those parts of the chicken aren't "gross" because they're particularly bad for you; they're "gross" because (1) they're raw and (2) they're formatted in a way we're taught to find unappetizing.

Once (1) they've been cooked and (2) they've been reformatted, there's nothing "gross" about them. These kids are approaching the question more clear-mindedly than Mr. Oliver.

We're lucky to be so privileged that we can afford to express disgust for perfectly good food (not to mention, horror that anyone WOULDN'T express disgust).
posted by foursentences at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Show of hands: How many of you are going to go home and blend up a whole chicken, including bones etc., and make these fine, forward-thinking culinary chicken nugget treats for your family?

Sort of a rhetorical question, but as I read back through the comments, I'm pretty sure of these folks will actually do it.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:02 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many of you are going to go home and blend up a whole chicken, including bones etc., and make these fine, forward-thinking culinary chicken nugget treats for your family? --- I would, but I made it last night, and I wouldn't dream of serving it two nights in a row. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Tonight, it's liquefied cow anus.
posted by crunchland at 12:08 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Tonight, it's liquefied cow anus.

Mix that with some powdered espresso and ginseng and you've got the next hit energy drink.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:11 PM on October 12, 2010


Artw wrote "Oh, and some Vegans think mushrooms are an animal."

Well, there are at least a few stupid people in every food movement, aren't there?
posted by caution live frogs at 12:51 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


In related news: School Cafeterias To Try Psychology To Get Kids To Eat Healthy.
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on October 12, 2010


Tonight, it's liquefied cow anus.

And we helped!
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on October 12, 2010


Not always. I would love to eat better. I would LOVE to have slow meals around the table and cook my own food. But the fact of the matter is that no matter how I "see myself" there literally is not time in the day for me to do this and still have a job, shower, and maintain anything resembling a "life" outside of said job. For some people, "quick" food (not necessarily fast food, but leaning towards pre-prepared rather than starting from scratch) is a necessary evil.

This is sort of the point. If we are so busy that we feel literally unable to feed ourselves, isn't there something out of balance. Fast food allows us to live unbalanced lives.

I say this as a member of a household with 2 physicians who each work 60 hour weeks and a toddler. Yet almost every night we eat a meal together that was prepared by one of us. It can work. We make our compromises elsewhere in our lives.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:58 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


We make our compromises elsewhere in our lives.

Soooo, isn't YOUR life out of balance, too? You're making compromises in other areas so that you can have slow cooked meals.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:09 PM on October 12, 2010


> Soooo, isn't YOUR life out of balance, too? You're making compromises in other areas so that you can have slow cooked meals.

This is precisely what I was referring to when I said that Metafilter doesn't do value discussions well.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:10 PM on October 12, 2010


No Burhanistan, Slarty is a bad person who does bad things and who should feel bad. Bad bad bad.
posted by GuyZero at 2:25 PM on October 12, 2010


Soooo, isn't YOUR life out of balance, too? You're making compromises in other areas so that you can have slow cooked meals.

This is precisely what I was referring to when I said that Metafilter doesn't do value discussions well.

It's not even a case of "doing it well": if you're just going to clam up like that, then I guess we can't have a discussion about this at all. Busy lives require compromise: you choose to make compromises in other areas, other people make compromise in the area of food preparation. You value the preparation of food, others don't. Just because people disagree doesn't mean that a discussion can't take place.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:39 PM on October 12, 2010


I had to cut back my masturbation time. This frees up about 2 hours a day. Some might argue that getting by on only an hour of masturbation a day is unbalanced, but I make it work. Family is too important.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:40 PM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think part of the problem is that they took something delicious and healthy, like chicken, and turned it into something that looks disgusting, ie chicken paste, and then turned it back into something that is delicious and unhealthy.

And why is this done? Not some selfless spiritual belief that we should not be wasteful of the sacred chicken, but in order to TURN A PROFIT while people get fat and sick.

You have no idea the slippery slope we start down, once we say "hey, as long as it's edible (even if it's not palatable), let's just liquefy it and turn it into tasty deep fried nuggets." The food industry is chomping at the bit to feed you shit. Literally, shit. Also, rat urine, flies, maggots, cow shit, and sick animals. Grind those fuckers all together, sterilize it, and put some chemical flavoring in it so it tastes like McDonalds. Because, technically, it's edible, even if not palatable.

I mean, once we've convinced society that it's okay to eat ground up chicken beaks, eyeballs and toenails, then it can't be much harder to get them to eat something just a little bit worse. And a little bit worse. And a little bit worse.

I understand the argument that processed food manufacturers are doing society a favor by feeding the poor on a dollar menu. What a shitty argument. Liquefied miscellaneous deep fried chicken parts are okay for the poor, and for our children's school lunch, because they wouldn't be able to afford a meal otherwise. Lets leave the shittiest foods for the least of us.

Having watched Food Revolution, I'll tell you that part of the purpose was showing that you could feed kids healthy, non-processed foods on the same budget.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:48 PM on October 12, 2010


Grind those fuckers all together, sterilize it, and put some chemical flavoring in it so it tastes like McDonalds.

Brings to mind the New Yorker article, The Taste Makers regarding 'flavor scientists' who create flavors to add to be added to 'foods' created in labs. Also profiled in the article is the Swiss company Givaudan ("Engaging the Senses"), the largest manufacturer of flavors and fragrances in the world.

Ya' want this shit to taste like chicken, we can whip something up in the lab for ya'.
posted by ericb at 4:04 PM on October 12, 2010


Ya' want this shit to taste like chicken, we can whip something up in the lab for ya'.

Givaudan's "Fresh Approach to Chicken."
"Our TasteEssentials™ Chicken flavour programme is developing breakthrough natural ingredients that really capture the nuances of the taste of chicken.

... Our major investment into science and technology and the TasteEssentials™ programme has resulted in the creation of new and better performing ingredients. These ingredients are brought together to create breakthrough chicken flavours – capturing the essence, signature and aroma of chicken for all world markets.

Sensitive chicken flavour components are protected using PureDelivery™ – our proprietary encapsulation technology. This helps flavours to withstand rigorous food manufacturing techniques and reduces undesired reactions between flavours caused by external factors such as oxidation."
posted by ericb at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2010


I understand the argument that processed food manufacturers are doing society a favor by feeding the poor on a dollar menu. What a shitty argument.

A shitty argument indeed, and one that no one here was making. My point about the food deserts was that crappy fast food is a significant part of the diet of the urban poor because there are no other choices. Can you imagine for one second what it would be like to not have a car, and your only source of food and groceries for a 20-mile radius is some overpriced bodega that charges $2 for an apple? Or worse yet, a drugstore that doesn't even sell produce, just bagged junk food, soda, and cans of soup with obscene levels of sodium. This is exactly the situation faced by literally millions of people in this country.

The fact that people in such dire straits have little choice but to grab a processed food value meal to feed themselves and/or their children isn't something I'm applauding, and we desperately need to do more as a nation to fix this problem. Given a choice, however, between these folks starving altogether or eating a Big Mac? You'd better believe I'm voting for the Big Mac.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:55 PM on October 12, 2010


So you are basing your moral outrage on the notion that Jamie Oliver proposes starving people?
posted by Artw at 4:57 PM on October 12, 2010


This is sort of the point. If we are so busy that we feel literally unable to feed ourselves, isn't there something out of balance. Fast food allows us to live unbalanced lives.

I say this as a member of a household with 2 physicians who each work 60 hour weeks and a toddler. Yet almost every night we eat a meal together that was prepared by one of us. It can work. We make our compromises elsewhere in our lives.


Well, then, bully for you. But until you want to come over here and rearrange MY life so that it works out for me to cook dinner (my partner cooking isn't an option for many reasons) *without* falling asleep, I'd like you to accept that your compromises aren't possible for everyone else. For one, you have two adults in your family who cook. I don't.
posted by sonika at 5:05 PM on October 12, 2010


But until you want to come over here and rearrange MY life so that it works out for me to cook dinner...

I guess that's the thing. No one's going to do this for you, and maybe that's why so many people don't do it -- few of us even know how to really feed ourselves. I grew up on hot dogs and tater tots and fast food and crappy school lunches, just like a lot of people. Planning a menu, learning to cook -- these were skills I had to learn. But I just reached a point where it became plainly obvious that microwaving comfort foods was not only making me fat and shortening my life, but was *contributing* to a whole lot of stress, fatigue, and a generally poor constitution. With a child on the way, we decided we weren't going to create a family like this. It took a few adjustments, but not as many as you might think and I'm here to tell you that excuses like "I'm way too busy" or "my partner doesn't cook" or "it's too expensive" are just excuses and they really don't fly. For whatever reason, people *choose* not to eat well. And I don't think of any of these people as deserving less dignity or respect, but I also don't accept that a diet that consists primarily of convenient processed foods is the best alternative for anyone's family, for any reason.

I also fully accept that some people reading this will think I'm an asshole at this point harping on it, but on the slim chance that it convinces one person leading a hectic life that eating well is not only possible, but far easier, far more enjoyable, and far better for everyone involved, my day today illustrates the point well.

My last day off was 12 days ago, but on that day, I spent an hour and $150 at the local QFC, buying groceries that will sustain our family for two weeks. Over breakfast that day, my wife and I talked about 5 or so dishes we'd made before that would be good to make again -- the rest of the nights we would eat left overs or throw something together, or go out -- we have a bunch of staples at home, I just buy the fresh ingredients, organic if it's not too much more, but some conventional stuff too. My last 4 days have been pretty crazy -- I started a call week on Saturday and spent most of Saturday night in the hospital. Worked 8 hours Sunday, 12 on Monday, and today, Tuesday, is my "busy" day, so I like to make sure dinner's taken care of because my wife has her hands full with the kiddo.

Today started at 530 AM, by 6 am I had thrown some dry red beans and sliced sausage in the crock pot and after running some carrots, onions, and bell peppers through the food processor added those. Breakfast was oatmeal in the doctor's lounge at 6:30 while reviewing labs on the computer before rounds. Afterwards, I'm off to clinic, where I saw 35 patients, stopping 15 minutes for lunch of pasta and chicken left over from the night before. It was a crazy day, by the time I get home at 6:30, a person in the hospital has died and a baby has been born. I'm pretty tired but red beans and rice were already on the table and I got to spend an hour decompressing over good food, talking with my wife and feeding my son before giving him a bath. My wife is putting him down now.

...I'd like you to accept that your compromises aren't possible for everyone else.

And after all of that today, I just spent the first free half hour I had writing this to say: I will not.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:12 PM on October 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I commonly work 16-18 hour days a couple days a week, and 10 hours minimum for another 4 days, I am a single dad raising two daughters, and yet I still manage to cook good "slow food" about five days a week. Tonight we had a great beef stew with leeks and potatoes from the garden, the girls each had two servings and were very happy. It took me about 20 minutes total to make the meal, including walking down to the garden to pull the leeks. We played a game while the stew simmered. How is that an onerous amount of time? Yes, it often takes longer to make dinner, but if I had to do so, I could make a good solid healthy meal every night in a half hour or less.

The other two days are leftovers or crap dinners. I like crap food sometimes too, I'm only human. For example, I like cheap sushi from "sushi go round" places. Not really so good for me (sodium, mercury), not so good for the environment, yet I love it.

Just sayin', maybe it is a choice, eh? Maybe if you weren't so convinced it isn't an option, you could do it too. 5 days a week is sure a lot better than rationalizing "it just isn't possible" and giving in to knowingly feeding your kids garbage all the time because you are too busy.

I'm proud my girls eat well, and I'm proud that I'm teaching them to cook from scratch too. Their life will be measurably better for it.
posted by Invoke at 9:07 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slarty Bartfast: I also fully accept that some people reading this will think I'm an asshole at this point harping on it, but on the slim chance that it convinces one person leading a hectic life that eating well is not only possible, but far easier, far more enjoyable, and far better for everyone involved, my day today illustrates the point well.

I think my goal here is to convince some of you that your enjoyment of this sort of thing is a feature of you, not some uniform human truth. I hate cooking to my very core. I can do it, and I could do it more often, but I'd be doing it strictly for the health benefits. It would be like doing my taxes every single night. And I'm not the only one like this! Furthermore, if I did cook in the evenings, it would screw with my exercise regiment - so it would be a bit of a double-edged sword, health-wise. I didn't see any exercise in the schedule you listed.

I guess I'm trying to suggest that not everyone should need to cook. We live in a society of specialization, where everything is done by someone and nobody needs to do everything for themselves. I don't think it's reasonable that I should necessarily be expected to cook when you do not, for instance, personally mine the metals that go into your computer. I think we'd get a lot further on the obesity thing if instead of trying to force everyone to cook regardless of their proficiency, desire, or time, we put some effort into making processed foods not shit and taught people how to find the ones that weren't going to kill them. Whole foods aren't necessarily better in that regard, anyway; steaks and bacon will kill you just as fast as big macs and I have personally known people who've eaten themselves into unhealthy obesity through their own cooking with whole ingredients.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:38 PM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Last Corn Dog Day, I decided I would make my dogs from scratch. And by "from scratch" I don't mean I'd just dip some Hebrew Nationals in batter and fry them - I made hot dogs. It took forever (I made over 20 lbs.) and yeah, you turn meat into paste. It looked about like the paste shown at 2:10 or so in the video. Horribly sticky and disgusting-looking. But after a labored to get that meat-paste into sheep intestines, smoked them, dipped them in batter and fried them, they were the best damn corn dogs I'd ever had. And all of my guests agreed.
posted by sanko at 10:13 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


And after all of that today, I just spent the first free half hour I had writing this to say: I will not.

With all due respect: Bite me.

There is one adult in my house who can cook: me. I get up at 6:30, which is the earliest that I can get up. No, I can't get up earlier to do yoga or meditate or chop green peppers. It's not physiologically possible. I'm pregnant and I also have epilepsy: I need sleep more than most people can even begin to comprehend.

My work day starts at 7:30. That is to say, I leave the house at 7 and am at work by 7:20. I work until 5. That's 9 1/2 hours with two young children with special needs. To say that I'm exhausted when I get home from work is putting it mildly. I cook at work, but not for myself.

I absolutely can not stay awake when I get home. It's not possible. And yet, I have to also eat. If it's a "good" day, I can manage to make something simple on the stove like noodles or edamame or something. More often than not, it's PB&J. Again, I'm pregnant. I HAVE TO eat right then. That moment. My partner can't do the cooking for me, or any of the prep because not only does he not know how to cook, but he's not home. He's working on his PhD and teaching a class and the five minutes per day that he does spend at home are usually spent studying. He eats the majority of his meals outside of the house, except for the occasional quick sandwich or - in the event that snowballs start dancing in hell - the meal that I cook.

Your sacrifices are absolutely not sacrifices that everyone else can make. I can't start prep in the mornings because if I don't sleep, I will have seizures. I can't wait and eat later in the evening because man, that fetus needs to be fed. Cooking will be possible for me when I'm working out of my own home and can gradually over the day do prep work while also caring for my own kids (and any kids I may be nannying in addition to mine), but for now? It's just not doable. I've had to take a good, hard look at a lot of aspects of my life lately related to exhaustion and stress levels and taking care of myself during pregnancy and one of the things I can't do is commit to cooking dinner. Sometimes, I do. I made spaghetti (with sauce, not just boiling the pasta) at 9PM last night, but that's only because I took a nap first. I can't do this every night or my sleep schedule would be all FUBAR and then... seizures.

Just sayin', maybe it is a choice, eh? Maybe if you weren't so convinced it isn't an option, you could do it too.

I literally don't have twenty minutes to cook. That's my problem. Those twenty minutes honestly don't exist. When I had them: I cooked. I did have times in my life when I could simultaneously cook and work. During those times, I was not also pregnant and my work days were much shorter.

I would also love to have 20 minutes a day to do yoga, but that ain't happening either.

Your life =/ everybody else's life. The choices you are able to make =/ choices that other people can necessarily make. I can't compromise on sleep. That's impossible. I can't wait and eat later in the day. The one thing I could do that I might start doing is food prep before I go to bed, but even that is pushing it since I barely have time to eat "dinner," shower, and decompress even the tiniest bit before going to bed as is. I'm home at 5:30 and in bed by 9. And no, I can't stay up later. Yes, that's more sleep that most people get, but I'm baking a human and trying to control a seizure disorder.

You can look down on me from your high horse all you want, but unless you want to throw me a freakin' ladder, I'm just not able to climb up there with you. I'm not someone who has never cooked my own meals, I've been there. I've made the sacrifices. I've done the scheduling to make it possible. And my life right now has taught me that no, it's not always possible, which has given me much greater empathy for people who work two jobs or otherwise just don't have the resources to cook their own meals on any kind of regular basis. It's tough to balance things and you've gotta survive somehow. Sometimes, that means you survive on pre-cooked food. It's not the end of the world and you are absolutely not a lesser person for it. I'm the same person now as I was when I worked all day and cooked dinner when I got home. I'm just a busier, more tired person.
posted by sonika at 5:56 AM on October 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sounds like you got a pretty tough, stressful life. You're right, you're trapped and nothing in the world can ever make it better. I'm sorry.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:43 AM on October 13, 2010


I decided I would make my dogs from scratch.

I just wanted to say that this is awesome. I've never heard of somebody doing this before, and I think that it is a great way (even if a pain in the ass) to make a hot dog, or any type of sausage.

Last night as I made meat sauce for my pasta, and was stirring the ground beef around to get that good meat-sauce consistency, I thought of this thread. (This is my sad existence; comparing life to things I read on Metafilter.) The ground beef begins to look like a pink meat paste (not quite the soft-serve that becomes our chicken nuggets), so I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not against meat paste per se.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:03 AM on October 13, 2010


Sounds like you got a pretty tough, stressful life. You're right, you're trapped and nothing in the world can ever make it better. I'm sorry.

Not at all. My life is awesome. It just doesn't include twenty extra minutes.
posted by sonika at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2010


Susan Davies' McDonalds Happy Meal Project

"Why hasn't even the bun become speckled with mould? It is odd."

- McDonald's Happy Meal shows no sign of decomposing after SIX MONTHS

"... the McDonald's haters have gotten their science wrong. "The ingredients are similar to anything you'd see in processed fast food," he says. For better or for worse, McDonald's is no more a chemical laboratory of secret compounds designed to embalm us from the inside than any other processed food maker. A Happy Meal manages to stay unspoiled because it is fatty, salty and practically empty of nutrients -- which, really, are all good reasons to avoid it anyway. "

-- The secret to the immortality of McDonald's food
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on October 13, 2010


Wellness educator and nutrition consultant Karen Hanrahan has kept a McDonald's hamburger since 1996 to illustrate its nonexistent ability to decay. Aside from drying out and bit and having "the oddest smell," it apparently hasn't changed much in the past 12 years.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:33 PM on October 13, 2010


It just doesn't include twenty extra minutes. -- How long did it take you to type out this message?
posted by crunchland at 12:34 PM on October 13, 2010


crunchland: Message was typed out while I was at work and thus could not have been soaking lentils or hand grinding sausages. I'm almost never online at home in the evenings for the same reason why I'm almost never frying green tomatoes or doing downward dog.

My point isn't "woe is me," my point is "I don't have time to cook and I resent the implication that this makes me soulless."
posted by sonika at 12:38 PM on October 13, 2010


It's ok, you all have broken souls!
posted by Burhanistan at 12:49 PM on October 13, 2010


I guess we're having sole tonight.
posted by ericb at 1:35 PM on October 13, 2010


Your life =/ everybody else's life. The choices you are able to make =/ choices that other people can necessarily make.

Wise words.

I also fully accept that some people reading this will think I'm an asshole at this point harping on it, but on the slim chance that it convinces one person leading a hectic life that eating well is not only possible, but far easier, far more enjoyable, and far better for everyone involved, my day today illustrates the point well.

I don't think you're an asshole for harping on it. Like Sonika, I do think you're not understanding that what works for you isn't going to necessarily work for everyone. And blithely criticising people for not following your example when you don't know their circumstances strikes me as a little ridiculous.

So:

Possible, perhaps.
Easier, not necessarily.
Enjoyable, not necessarily.
Far better for everyone involved: debatable. I'm a huge fan of cooking healthy meals at home, but if people don't understand how to balance a meal and haven't learned the basics of portion control, then their efforts aren't necessarily going to be better than a store or restaurant-bought meal.

I eat well. So does my family. Most of the time, we eat a healthy balanced diet because my wife and I cook. Other times, we eat well because when we do eat out, we try not to eat crap. I suspect the "worst" food my kids eat is pizza. Or perhaps a higher-than-McDonalds-quality Chicken nugget. If one has the financial means, it is possible to buy pre-prepared food that is not drenched in fat, oil, salt or additives.

I'd say we cook 80% of the time and bring in some sort of takeout (usually from a local diner or supermarket) about 20%. But buying food rather than cooking it from scratch because my wife and I work and don't always have time to cook doesn't make us soul-less. We cook and bake on the weekends when possible, and then eat leftovers on weekdays. And yes, we do both cook, which makes our situation a lot easier than Sonika's.

Slarty, you're not the only one who works long hours, and you're not the only one who has had to make compromises in order to take care of his family's needs. We do our best.

It sounds like you're suggesting that other people are slacking off or somehow deficient because you think they can't be bothered to try to take care of themselves. That's rather uncharitable of you.
posted by zarq at 2:14 PM on October 13, 2010


So what we have here is the formation of a pitch fork wielding mob here in order to burn heretics who dare suggest that ammonia saturated chicken slurry is not the best basis for a diet or that with a little effort it could be avoided. And this is clearly a horrible thing to say because it implies that people have some control over how they eat and that they aren't eating the best way ever already.

Are we trying to construct some kind of tea party metaphor here or something?
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on October 13, 2010


So what we have here is the formation of a pitch fork wielding mob here in order to burn heretics who dare suggest that ammonia saturated chicken slurry is not the best basis for a diet or that with a little effort it could be avoided. And this is clearly a horrible thing to say because it implies that people have some control over how they eat and that they aren't eating the best way ever already.

If you're referring to my comment, then no, that's not what I said, did or implied.
posted by zarq at 2:39 PM on October 13, 2010


That would include but not be exclusive to you, yes.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on October 13, 2010


That would include but not be exclusive to you, yes.

Your idea of "pitchfork-wielding" is rather hilarious, then.
posted by zarq at 2:53 PM on October 13, 2010


You are, of course, welcome to your own interpretation of the thread, me I’m seeing a riled mob ganging up to give someone a kicking. In ever so polite, nicely couched internet terms, of course.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on October 13, 2010


wow this blew up, somehow
posted by angrycat at 3:07 PM on October 13, 2010


it's because I kicked Jamie Oliver in the ribs
posted by Greg Nog at 3:12 PM on October 13, 2010


the mcRibs
posted by Greg Nog at 3:13 PM on October 13, 2010


I asked Cortex to delete my last obnoxious comment almost as soon as I posted it. It was a poor of me.

What I've been hearing from people is "I have to feed my family processed/packaged food because there is simply no time to do otherwise and still have time for everything else that's important." Please correct me if this isn't what's being said, because that's what I am responding to. My only argument is that this is really not a true statement.

What my comments above explicitly stated were:

people who habitually microwave convenience foods...have souls that are deeply corrupted

I.e. people who think this is a normal, everyday kind of way to eat lack something very basic in their lives. At no point did I say, nor do I think, it is immoral to touch convenience foods and sure, they have a place. I even confessed above that I enjoy eating a Big Mac once in a while. My kid has ingested chicken nuggets. I am hoping that the people taking the pro-crap food position here are not really arguing that this kind of thing is ok to eat every day, but in my world I do see plenty of people who actually eat like this and I just don't think it is ever justified. If what is being said is "I never have time to prepare real food because I always have too much to do" then yes, something in your life is out of balance. I am really, truly sorry.

It seems like the discussion is becoming about how one juggles work, career, school, and family in the modern world and it's probably time to step out because I don't think I have a position to take in that discussion.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:14 PM on October 13, 2010




I have to feed my family processed/packaged food because there is simply no time to do otherwise and still have time for everything else that's important.

I suppose you could sum up what I'm trying to say that way, but really it'd be a better summary to say "Look, the alternative to the way I eat isn't to cook for myself, it's to eat cereal for every meal because that's what we're talking about with my schedule. I don't have to eat pre-packaged food, but I also can't budget the time to cook for myself every night."

I am hoping that the people taking the pro-crap food position here are not really arguing that this kind of thing is ok to eat every day, but in my world I do see plenty of people who actually eat like this and I just don't think it is ever justified.

No, I'm not pro-crap food. What I am is "Pro-busy people who don't have time too cook all the time and occasionally eat crap food and I don't think there's anything wrong with their souls."

Honestly, right now I'm at home and eating leftovers that I made for dinner last night. Yes, I'm arguing the point that not cooking doesn't make you a soulless wretch, but I also do try and cook when I can. It's just that "When I can" does not necessarily equal "on a regular basis" and I get a little cranky when I see it implied that my life is out of balance.

Possibly I get cranky as I'm a bit defensive because I honestly do wish I ate better, but as I've said: given my schedule and the needs of my family, I'm doing my best. My best just includes a lot of PB&J and Stouffer's right now. Honestly, there's nothing I find more depressing than when someone is eating a microwave meal alone on TV and when they do that in Thanksgiving episodes of shows to make someone all "lonely" I want to cry because THEY SHOULD HAVE REAL FOOD! Anyhow. That's probably part of where I'm coming from, that I know my situation isn't what I'd like it to be - food wise - but I don't feel like that should imply that I'm a lesser person for it.
posted by sonika at 4:01 PM on October 13, 2010


"I never have time to prepare real food because I always have too much to do" then yes, something in your life is out of balance.

Indeed: The chequebook.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:04 PM on October 13, 2010


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