Wednesday, August 24, 2011

McNugget "Meat"

McNugget "Meat" butchery diagram
original watercolor and ink illustration, 9 x 11


A couple of days ago, I started researching retail cuts of chicken, to make a "Use Every Part of the Chicken" piece, to go with the lamb, pig, and cow in the series. In doing this, I thought it might be funny to include a "nugget" part of the chicken, so I quickly became sidetracked in trying to figure out the age-old question of "What part of the chicken DOES the nugget come from?" Of course, this question inevitably leads to the grandaddy of the nugget, the McDonald's Chicken McNugget.

There was a report from inside the McDonald's McNugget factory.  Information about the four (and yes, only four) shapes of the nugget. (That's the "bone", "ball", "boot" and "bell" if you're playing along at home.) Pictures of the McExtruder. The now debunked posts that Mcnuggets came from mechanically separated chicken parts. Dramatic standing McNuggets. Quite funny illustrations of a "McNugget" animal.

And most useful for me, information about the many MANY ingredients in a McNugget. Yes, yes, there is real white meat chicken in there. But that's not all. Not even close.

The troubling ingredient list has been explored in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Things like thirteen corn-based ingredients in a bite-sized chunk of chicken. Or tertiarybutylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum-based product, similar to butane(!), and used to preserve freshness.   Or that the dimethylpolysiloxane, added to the frying oil to prevent foaming, is a silicone-based ingredient commonly found in make-up and Silly Putty

But don't they look delicious?

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