Unless you're like 10,000 years into some sort of hardcore Rip Van Winkle situation, you've GOT to be aware of the fact, by now, that your food is fucking gross. There is simply no way to keep bugs and feces and gasoline and donkey-skin and ghosts out of the stuff we eat, so if you want to have a shred of a chance at actually enjoying life, you've got to let a whooooole lotta grossness just roll off your back. C'est la vie.
I'm sure we all remember Jamie Oliver's "pink slime" exposé a few years back, when the celebrity chef revealed that a gooey paste of liquefied beef trimmings "washed" with ammonium hydroxide was being used as filler in beef—beef that found its way into supermarkets, fast food restaurants, and school lunches. Backlash against this yucky revelation inspired several right-wing governors, including Sam Brownback and Rick Perry (both from big beef states), to organize pink slime PR tours, where they passed out t-shirts with the slogan, "Dude, It's Beef!"
I'd argue that there's nothing objectively wrong with eating pink slime (and other animal byproducts), as long as you're given the opportunity to make an informed decision about what you're putting in your mouth. Transparency and regulation are key. As I've said before, I'm not conceptually opposed to eating "weird" meats—I'll eat a pig's butthole if it's safe and tastes delicious—and to suggest that doing so is inherently disgusting is pretty narrow-minded, boring, and classist. But, that said, it's always nice to keep tabs on how the sausage gets made (literally), when it comes to the grossest of gross foods. I'm not talking about offal and undervalued cuts—I'm talking about that terrifying intersection where garbage-scraps meet caustic chemicals. The intersection of chicken and nugget.
Researchers in Mississippi recently analyzed the contents of several chicken nuggets, and their results were...well...unsurprising:
The nuggets came from two national fast food chains in Jackson. The three researchers selected one nugget from each box, preserved, dissected and stained the nuggets, then looked at them under a microscope.
The first nugget was about half muscle, with the rest a mix of fat, blood vessels and nerves. Close inspection revealed cells that line the skin and internal organs of the bird, the authors write in the American Journal of Medicine.
The second nugget was only 40 percent muscle, and the remainder was fat, cartilage and pieces of bone.
..."What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken," deShazo told Reuters Health.
"It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them."
Fucking chicken nuggets, man. That's one cruel-ass mistress. I find them psychologically revolting to the point of gagginess, but STILL the allure of McDonalds Sweet & Sour Sauce wins me over once or twice a year (the researchers say chicken nuggets are "okay to eat occasionally," SO, PHEW). It's pretty much my only fast food craving, unless you count Heath Bar Blizzards (and there are zero Dairy Queens in the Seattle city limits, so I'm safe).
One other chicken nugget anecdote: When I was in high school, Burger King ran a promotion for the Rugrats Movie where they sold "Rugrats-shaped chicken nuggets" (THAT IS A CHICKEN NUGGET SHAPED LIKE A BABY, IN CASE YOUR MENTAL PICTURE ISN'T COMING INTO FOCUS QUICK ENOUGH), and for Christmas my genius friend bought some and made them into Christmas ornaments for me. I think she dried them out in the oven for a bit, then stuck a piece of wire through the head, and tied a ribbon around it. It was hilarious. And, even more hilariously: That thing is still in my mom's box of Christmas ornaments. It gets unwrapped and put on the tree every year and it still looks exactly the same as it did when it came out of its Rugrats Burger King carton in 1998.
That's what that "food" is.