On the EDge: Hunter-gatherer though I may be, no more chicken nuggets for me

OPINION – I will never, ever eat one of those fast-food chicken nugget things again.


As in forever and ever.


Look, a long time ago I patronized the local fast-food joints at least once a week for dinner and a couple times a week for lunch.

I’ve had it my way, eaten just about every McSandwich ever concocted, even made the dinner run for the border to assuage my appetite.

I’ve triple-doubled it, gnawed my way through my share of bacon-cheese-onion ring burgers, and, alas, often walked away wondering, “Where’s the beef?” and I’ve probably downed enough grease to power Willie Nelson’s biodiesel bus for two cross-country tours.

That pretty much came to a screeching halt a couple of years ago when I learned I had high blood pressure. I had always thought I was just moody, but no, I guess all those slop burgers I ate over the years caught up with me.

So my wife added another title to her name – she is now, officially, my nutritionist – and we eat a lot healthier.

Once in awhile, she lets me splurge. It might be some KFC once in a blue moon. Perhaps a regular-sized burger if the planets line up correctly. Mostly, however, we eat pretty healthy stuff.

A story I saw last week about chicken nuggets, however, may have put me off all fast-food forever.

You know what’s in that stuff?

A lot of it comes from a chicken, you just don’t want to know which parts of the chicken. I think they use everything but the feathers to make those little nugget things. Then, there are 20-30 other ingredients and additives to give it a shelf-life that just about equals the half-life of plutonium.

Yeah, I know that if you only ate the stuff that’s good for you your diet would be pretty bland because there’s a lot of flavor that comes out of fats, salt, sugar, and all those other things your cardiologist will tell you are poisonous. Well, maybe not poisonous, but close enough.

And, in this pursuit of eating better, I’ve read a lot of things that just don’t fit. One expert tells us carbs are good, for example, while another tells us they are bad. Veggies and grains are the only way to go, vegetarians will say, except that you had better find sources for protein, otherwise you end up a weak-kneed, granola-crunching tree hugger.  I like trees, and I like granola, but I also like a nice, thick, juicy steak.

The militant vegetarians – they call them vegans – insist that you should not eat anything with a face on it or that comes from something with a face on it.

And, I’m not sure yet if they have decided if pork is still bad or truly is “the other white meat” these days.

I do know that on The Baja, the food was a lot different. It looked different, tasted different, smelled different. The veggies were much more flavorful and the meat, even in the larger stores, was locally raised without growth hormones, antibiotics, and the other things injected into our cattle, fowl, and swine to make them grow faster. I had, as a matter of fact, forgotten that a chicken’s legs are much longer than the legs of those you buy at the grocery stores here that were raised in cages.

But, this fast-food thing?

Look, I’m a guy and, as a guy, there are certain things imprinted on our DNA.

We must, for example, go into a Home Depot or Lowe’s now and then, ogle the power tools and grunt.

We must tackle at least one minor home repair job a year or risk losing our manhood stripes.

And, as the hunter-gatherers that we are, we must, every now and then, search out and bring home dinner for the family.

Millions of years have taught us, you know, that we should be efficient in our hunting and gathering, which is really why fast-food was invented. That whole scouting, tracking, chasing, skinning, butchering thing is a lot of work, you know, so just give us a place where we can go and grunt a couple of syllables and drive away with a bag of hot, if not necessarily nutritious, stuff to eat.

No more.

From now on, you can have your curly fries, your bacon-cheese-onion ring-whatever, and, most of all, chicken parts things.

Nope, give me a nice jumbo pizza with the works and I’ll be a happy camper.

At least I’ll know what went into it.

No bad days!


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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Dan Mabbutt October 29, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Thirty-five years ago, my wife made the decision for us. I held out for two or three weeks before deciding that she was serious and giving in to her superior status in our relationship.

    Second best thing she ever did for me!

    At the time, my wife was the lab worker who actually ran the tests for meat in Utah. That was a primary motivator. The advice about never looking to see how sausage is made is right. But there are lots of other reasons.

    First, we’re convinced that all of the chemicals and hormones do funny things to your head. They make you more aggressive or impulsive or something like that. It doesn’t seem like an accident to us that America is both a meat eating nation and one that is prone to send war planes and bombs around the world. As China becomes more prosperous and the population eats more meat, we anticipate that they might become more warlike too. Right now, America has 19 aircraft carriers (at 15 billion a pop). China has one … bought used from Russia. That’ll change.

    You covered the health reasons. Let me say this about that. (That was one of Nixon’s favorite phrases. I use it whenever I can.) I’m well over the retirement age and I take zero medicines beyond the occasional aspirin or something.

    A veggie nation would be a more efficient and economical nation. You may have read how much feedstock, water, land, labor and so forth it takes to raise animals for food compared with, for example, nice healthy beer. Not to mention pollution. Have you seen the lakes, yea, verily, “oceans” of pig crap there are up by Milford? It happens wherever animals are raised for food.

    Life is actually simpler. A sample: Your kitchen stays a lot cleaner. Cooking animal fats spreads an aerosol that collects on everything and then forms a gummy dust residue that is hard to clean. Vegetable fats don’t. They’re getting much better at producing veggie food these days. Praise Seitan!

    There was a time when I did this for my wife, but for decades now, I can’t imagine living any other way.

  • DoubleTap October 29, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Chickens don’t have nuggets…

    • Ken October 29, 2013 at 9:55 am

      I wonder if nuggets have any chicken in them!

  • Paul Jensen October 29, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Good article Ed.
    I always have wondered what part of the chicken they cut off to get the nuggets. I doubt Foghorn Leghorn would approve.

  • Opened Minded October 29, 2013 at 10:55 am

    For someone that grew up eating chicken hearts, legs, neck, liver…etc….It doesn’t scare me this chicken nuggets thing…the additives and hormones does. But I still don’t understand why it is so expensive here in America to eat healthy than otherwise. Sad!

  • Dan Mabbutt October 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Open Minded …

    You wrote, ” I still don’t understand why it is so expensive here in America to eat healthy ”

    I’ve thought about this question quite a bit. Understanding the answer tells us a lot about how the economy works.

    To begin, consider consumer electronics. I put together my own computers and the last time I bought a floppy disk drive (I know … that dates me), it cost about $20. Retail. Now, the wholesale cost is probably around half that. Then there is shipping costs from China. The factory must be producing those things at quite a bit less than $10. Maybe around $5. Have you looked at a floppy disk drive? There’s some complex and sophisticated electronics there. The precision pancake motor is amazing. The design that allows such a thin device to do such a precise job with such ultralow voltage levels is hard to believe. At $5 a copy??? You can assume that China plays games with subsidies and exchange rates and it’s STILL phenomenal.

    How do they do it? Volume. Once you get a system set up, you can pump product through it and drive the cost lower and lower and lower.

    This is why McNugg-ecch’s cost so little. They have a system set up. They shove living creatures in one end (pay no attention to what happens to them inside the system) and McNugg-ecch’s come out the other in monstrous volume and incredibly low cost per unit.

    The reason healthy food costs so much is that they DON’T have a system set up. Organic, non-GMO food is grown on individual farms at relatively high marginal costs.

    The intrinsic cost of raising a chicken and pumping it through their system … other things being equal … would argue in favor of much lower costs of veggie food. But other things are not equal.

    If there were more of us (veggies, that is) then good veggie food would cost a LOT less.

  • Craig October 30, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Health and cost are two of the best reasons to grow your own food. Or, as much as possible. You know what’s in it and where it comes from.

  • Ken October 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

    What a load of hogwash. Thanks for a dose “journalistic” sensationalism. I especially like how you finished this pathetic piece of writing with a ridiculous statement about knowing what goes into a pizza with the works. The pepperoni, Italian sausage are not so different from nuggets you’re inclined to chastise. If you intend to write about food in the future, I would suggest a beginners class in food nutrition to help you understand the bodies needs and nutritional content of foods. And maybe you’ll not sound like an idiot in your writing. A class in food regulation might also be in order and might benefit you to the nuances of federal rules regarding poultry rearing (e.g. growers are not allowed to give hormones and steroids to chickens).

  • Get Real October 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    If it ain’t never “Moooooooooood” then it just ain’t food. . .:D

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