Hubris coupled with a bit of ignorance is a dangerous mix. Last month Daily Finance Magazine posted a blog by Bruce Watson, wondering What’s Inside Chicken Nuggets? His position is that no one really knows what is in the chicken. Really? I find his astonishment that there is less than 50% meat in chicken nuggets to be a bit laughable. What did he think? This is the kind of reporting that reveals more about the writer than the subject he is writing about. Bruce Watson has a bit to learn about food and nutrition for his reporting to be credible. Let me attempt to break down the cascade of misinformation.
First, fat is not the nutritional boogieman that everyone thinks. Far more metabolic damage occurs from artificial trans fats and refined starches and sugars–currently thought to be the most significant factors increasing risk of heart disease and other inflammatory states). The idea that fat content in food determines it’s healthfulness is pretty dated thinking. He is clearly not up to snuff when determining what is “healthy”.
Second, suggesting roasted chickens are so much more healthful than chicken nuggets–especially because of the fat content– is rather clueless as well. Roasted chicken wings yield up to 65% of their calories from from fat, while flour fried chicken yields no more than 1-2 more grams of fat than grilled or roasted chicken with the skin. Chicken nuggets range about 50% fat. But fat is not the nutrition scourge once thought, so no stars for nutrition science savvy as well.
Next, many people eat all kinds of animal tissue when they eat chicken on the bone–including the softened cartilage, tendons, ligaments, skin, and fat. What do you think you are eating when someone prepares soup using bones or the entire carcass for stock? Is Bruce suggesting we only eat skinless, boneless chicken? What a waste of the rest of the bird. Every cook who has ever made their own stock, chicken soup, or stew is laughing at this point.
Lastly, I understand the research Mr. Watson refers to only used one sample of chicken nuggets from two different restaurants. With such a “rigorous” study design, kind of makes me wonder how and why the American Journal of Medicine accepted the paper in the first place. I wonder if there isn’t just a bit of elitism exposed in this article by both the medical journal and the finance periodical. I don’t hear anyone demonizing crab cakes, a popular menu item usually served at a very different type of restaurant. Crab cakes yield a nutrition profile very similar to chicken nuggets.
Emotionally charged reporting–especially regarding good food/bad food thinking–typically serves a rather dark agenda. Since insightful nutrition education is not the goal, I wonder what is. Maybe Finance Magazine should stick with a food company’s financial portfolio or reach out for help when they venture into foreign territory. Not everyone is suited to write about food and nutrition, and I’m not sure Daily Finance is the place get the scoop.