We were discussing the relative merits of the food at McDonald's yesterday in my Philosophy and Public Issues class. One student remarked that the food there tastes much better than that of our cafeteria at UPB. One of the topics that we'll address in my class is the moral implications of the food we eat, and we'll consider ways of eating more sustainably/morally. As an introduction to this topic, I thought I'd post an image of, well, I'm not sure what to call it-- chicken custard. It's what composes the bulk of various chicken products in fast-food restaurants.
A blog called Fooducate has a nice caption for this pic: "Someone figured out in the 1960s that meat processors can eek out a few more percent of profit from chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows by scraping the bones 100% clean of meat. This is done by machines, not humans, by passing bones leftover after the initial cutting through a high pressure sieve. The paste you see in the picture above is the result."
Here's another description of the process:
"Basically, the chicken is smashed and pressed through a sieve—bones, eyes, guts, and all. There’s more: because it’s crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia, soaked in it, actually. Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color."
Jamie Oliver is a famous chef that was recently in a television show/documentary aptly titled Food Revolution. Here's a great clip. And here is an apparent industry-produced clip of a chicken nugget production line (with fantastic music for your viewing-pleasure). It's worth checking out the comments below these clips. The vast majority of folks see nothing wrong with the process. What do you think about it?
I think a good question to ask is whether taste is all that we should be worried about when it comes to deciding what to eat. You'll likely suggest that other things like our health, cost, the effect that food production has on our environment, and the quality of the life of the organism being eaten are things that also matter. But how much do these other considerations matter? How heavily do you weigh these other factors? Do these things even cross your mind when you're thinking about what to have for dinner? Should they cross your mind?
UPDATE 2/1/12: You might be interested in this piece from Michael Pollan (author of many books including The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire). If you don't know what the "food movement" is, you really should check this out.