Sunday, March 21, 2010

Corny Mc Lunacy

Over time, humans have evolved in such marvelous ways; capable of crafting lyrical, joyous music, timeless literature and everlasting works of art. Any self respecting Pollyanna would expect by this point in human fruition, man might also have established a steadfast moral inner voice, an unselfish conscience like the good book teaches. We’ve gone to the moon for crying out loud, but we’ve failed at maintaining something as basic as a pure heart.

Other than prematurely dying from viral heart disease at the tender age of 40, the reason I became a vegetarian was a healthy distrust of modern food processing techniques, falsehearted agribusiness and a constellation of unholy additives dumped into the food system. Humans have difficulty placing food in the same context with disease, so you might rethink your child’s Happy Meal after discovering what Micky-D’s inflicts upon your colorfully marketed box of Mc Nastiness. MSN recently profiled Mc Nuggets and discovered numerous ingredients other than chicken, water, dextrose, sodium phosphates, wheat starch, safflower oil and autolyzed yeast extract. Many more ingredients lurk, however, in the breading and deep fryer grease.

This may anesthetized your medulla oblongata, but Chicken’s not the main ingredient. According to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a Mc Nugget is made of 38 ingredients, mostly chemicals and GMO corn. The crispy critters are 56% corn; so much for truth in advertising. But 0.02% is tertiarybutylhydroquinone, a petroleum byproduct used as a preservative. The FDA allows food processors to use TBHQ sparingly, wink, wink, in our food. The antioxidant is sprayed directly onto the golden nuggets and the inside of the box to help preserve freshness. The Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives says TBHQ is a relative of lighter fluid and can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a single nugget, which, Pollan says is just as well, considering ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse. Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.” Who eats a single nugget in a more-is-better society? Big Food banks big bucks on your naiveté.

Read this passage from Pollan’s NY Times Best seller, "The ingredients listed suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a Mc Nugget, I counted thirteen derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. Celiacs beware! There's some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from GMO soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on price and availability. The 2004 documentary Super Size Me alleged Chicken Mc Nuggets composition was at one point in time, made from sick and old chickens unable to lay eggs and included, Dimethylpolysiloxane, which reduces deep fryer grease "foam up".

If you routinely consume and serve your kin some of the 4.8 billion Chicken Mc Nuggets sold annually, consider there are 48 calories per nugget; 57% from fat, 22% from empty carbs and only 21% from protein.
When religious leaders of every ilk pontificate from the pulpit we are required by the universe to be good stewards of the Holy Temple it seems a bit anomalous to dive head first into chicken Mc Nuggets after church service.

When I was a kid, it was fried chicken cooked in pork fat that clogged our collective arteries, but we didn’t know better. Now we do. It just goes to show how un-aware the general public is about what they eat and it’s affects on our most sacred gift; the temple. We can and will do better. Man is basically good, just a bit off course.

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