When did chicken nuggets and chips become staple foods in our children’s diet?
Back in the 1950’s Robert C. Baker invented the chicken nugget. He was a food scientist at Cornell University who had a particular interest in chickens. For many years the American food industry worked tirelessly to promote the chicken as a wonderful food to eat with 1 billion (YES, BILLION) birds being sold by 1955. With so many chickens on offer, Americans were growing a little bored of eating it the same way and were looking for new and more exciting recipes to cook with their chicken.
This is where Robert C. Baker steps in. After a bit of trial and error, he invented the “chicken nugget” or “chicken sticks”. The original nugget was made by grinding up chicken and mixing it with salt and vinegar, which helped to draw out the moisture in the chicken, along with ground-up grains and milk powder. This mixture could then be manipulated into any shape you desired; with the nugget shape, we know and seem to REALLY love being the most popular. The coating for the nugget consisted of eggs and cereal. Once the nugget was ready it was flash-frozen at -10°F then deep-fried in oil. It was an exciting invention and they were pleased to have found a way to get the desired shape without it falling apart and for the batter to stay on the nugget when it was being fried in the oil.
Fast forward to today and there are thousands and thousands of fast-food restaurants, take-away shops and the grocery store freezer aisles selling their own version of chicken nuggets. It would be hard to estimate how many nuggets are eaten every day, let alone in a year. The number would be astronomical.
There is also an unethical side to the humble chicken nugget. The raising and slaughter of billions of chickens every year in inhumane ways has left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Plus the additives food companies use to make their chicken nuggets is also inhumane.
These additives vary from product to product and the amount of genuine chicken pieces inside the nugget will also be different.
The Australian chicken from a McDonalds nugget contains: chicken, water, flour (maize, bleached wheat), salt, canola oil, thickener (1404), raising agents, mineral salts (341, 451, 450, 500, 541, 551, 327), spice, wheat starch and then cooked in a canola oil blend.
Whereas the ingredients list for the American McDonald’s chicken nugget includes: White Boneless Chicken, Water, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Vegetable Starch (Modified Corn, Wheat, Rice, Pea, Corn), Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Lactate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Spices, Yeast Extract, Lemon Juice Solids, Dextrose, Natural Flavors.
They are a little different but basically full of crap that causes our body more harm than good. Especially for our little ones who are growing and need the right nutrition to aid their growth.
Chips are no better. Yes, they are made out potato and potato is a vegetable but that’s where the good news ends.
There is much debate about where the chip began its fried life. Was it France or was it Belgium? At this point it doesn’t really matter where it began, it only matters where the fry has ended up and what is now being done to it.
If you fry a plain potato that has been cut into strips in some olive oil then you can consider this a relatively healthy food. But when food manufacturers add maltodextrin, dextrose, antifoam, wheat flour, thickeners, corn starch, salt, rice flour, acidity regulators, canola oil, vegetable oil…the list goes on really (depending on the brand you buy) that’s when the food you are about to eat becomes nutritionally unsafe.
Why are these ingredients unsafe? Because the additives in these foods have been shown to cause allergies, hyperactivity in children, depression, asthma, learning difficulties and migraine headaches; let alone the problems our young children are now facing such as weight gain, heart disease, inflammation, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. We don’t want our children to suffer any of these, do we?
Of course, nuggets and chips on their own or together once in a while will not, most of the time, cause such issues it is when the whole diet consists of processed foods instead of homemade fresh and healthy meals. Every child is different which means what is going to create health problems in one child may not in another. However, as parents, we must keep on top of our child’s health so that when they are older they can have a great quality of life without worrying about their ailing health. It is notably important each child listens to their body. If something doesn’t feel right after eating a particular food many times they need to tell you to have it investigated as this will cause issues into the future.
So, what do we do about it? Our kids love chicken nuggets and chips. The answer is to make them yourself so you know exactly what is going into your child’s body and avoid fast food restaurants as much as you can. If you and your child’s diet is healthy for the majority of the time then every now and again will not do any harm. Unless you notice a reaction or sensitivity such as sore tummy, skin conditions, vomiting or bowel intolerance. Please keep a record of any symptoms your child may be suffering and what they have eaten and when to take to your health care professional.
I can offer you personal support when it comes to your eating habits and help you discover new ways to create delicious and nutritious meals your children will love.
Please contact me to see what I can do for you.