The Critical Mass

You want propylene glycol with those nuggets?

One-hundred percent chicken. For now.

One-hundred percent chicken. For now.

The news on chicken nuggets is…. gross. A couple of recent studies of nuggets sold by two major fast-food outlets reveals that only 40 to 50 percent of that chicken is tender breast and succulent thigh meat. As you dig into that wax-paper box, the bulk of what you’re eating is fat, cartilage, pieces of bone, internal organs and the cells that line the skin.

Although they are frequently marketed by a man in a clown suit, chicken nuggets are actually as complex as Julia Child’s cassoulet recipe, which calls for a mere 22 ingredients. Fast food franchises typically fill out nuggets with 30 or more additives and preservatives including sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate (a.k.a. MSG), dimethylpolysiloxane (an anti-foaming agent that you’ll find in Silly Putty) and propylene glycol (it’s also in antifreeze). Understand as well that “artificial ingredients” are not food and “natural ingredients” are not necessarily good for you. Lard, for example. That’s natural.

David Katz, M.D., founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, helps us put it into proper perspective: “All of this is, of course, substantially less nutritious than what we typically think of as chicken.”

Yes. But legal. And research into fast-food hot dogs and burgers shows that they often contain less than 20 percent meat.

But food snobbery is not the intent here. Think of the faceless organization that handles your mortgage or your health-care plan. The unknown entity that sells you pharmaceuticals. The indecipherable nonsense that is booking a plane flight. The boomeranging price of gas. What institutions monitor the cost of an aircraft carrier, the ghastly low minimum wage, and which American citizens get spied on or thrown in jail because they got caught with a joint in their pocket?

There are business interests out there that can’t let a simple chicken nugget be chicken, and you expect them to treat with respect serious financial issues? Your propylene glycol intake is yet another example of why we cannot trust corporations to write the rules.