Blog Master G

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Tastes Like Chicken

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006 · 12 Comments

There are a lot of reasons people don’t eat meat and each of us has his own: Maybe you don’t like the way animals are treated, perhaps you’re sketched out by the hormones with which animals are injected, maybe you’ve read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, or it could be that you simply don’t enjoy how meat tastes.

Whatever the reason(s), we all have our own. There are also degrees of vegetarianism and veganism. I grew up eating meat, but am mostly a vegetarian these days. I still eat seafood regularly and used to eat white meat more often, but have all but stopped doing so. After a number of years without meat — the last steak I ordered in a restaurant was in 2001, when I was all at once disturbed by and no longer interested in the idea of eating a living mammal — you just don’t miss it. I’ve read Fast Food Nation, which is the best motivation not to eat meat. I also care about animals and don’t like the way they’re treated in big agrifarming — there are, of course, responsible ways to care for and raise animals, with which I don’t have a problem. I’ll also note for the record that I have no problem with responsible hunting — not the Dick Cheney caged bird (or friend) style — and eating your own kills (it’s just not something I’m interested in doing).

Yes, I do believe that our bodies do crave meat from time to time and that there’s nothing wrong with feeding that craving, so I enjoy the once-a-year or so carne asada at one of James’ BBQs, or the hand-picked cow that Jane and Sarah prepare with such mastery at their wine parties. And I even enjoy the occasional grilled chicken that I BBQ in my yard during Saratoga summers.

But I’ll leave you with this excellent question, posed last night by Jen as we tried a new offering from Morningstar Farms, producers of delicious soy-based fake meat products: If it looks like chicken, feels like chicken, smells like chicken, and tastes like chicken, then why does it matter if it’s not chicken?

MorningStar Farms Chik ‘N Strips

Throw ’em in the pan

…and out comes a delicious fake chik’n meal

Tags: food

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Joe V. // Mar 14, 2006 at 10:33 am

    Commie.

    :0)

  • 2 jen a. // Mar 14, 2006 at 11:25 am

    hey, that’s Pinko Commie to you! >:)

    *this blog post brought to you by morning star farms, processors of fine fake meat.

  • 3 Jordan // Mar 14, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    Don’t forget that March 15th is the fourth annual Eat an Animal for PETA Day.

    Mmm… EATAPETA day..

  • 4 Anonymous Coward // Mar 14, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    Place some real chicken and fake chicken side by side and ask your friendly neighborhood squirrel-chasing bird-killing cat to taste test. Or maybe throw some fake chicken into the lion’s cage when you go to the Bronx zoo. Tell us your results. (Maybe you only have to ask Happy dingo which one it/he/she prefers?)

  • 5 Alex // Mar 14, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    Nice post Gabe, and I am raising a counterpoint, but you know I got nothing but love fo’ you baby.

    These processed soy products are not healthier for us than real chicken. I read Shlosser’s book too. I think he was primarily indicted the farms that rely so heavily on the fast food market as their customers. I remember he wrote about measles infected chicken and the infamous quote “There is shit in the meat.” (yuck) The ground beef and reconstituted chicken served at ff joints is different from the all-natural free-range chicken and hormone/antibiotic free beef we buy from our local Hannaford and Price Chopper. (Aside: I am not sure I even buy Eric Shlosser’s assertion that ff is acutely dangerous, if we assume the 1MM people eat fast food a day, and let’s be crazy and say one person a month dies from having eaten some tainted ff– so if I eat McD’s every day, that puts my odds of eating a lethal “Royale with Cheese” at 1: 30 million, that’s 0.000003%. Eating McD’s once a month puts my odds at 0.0000001%. Those are great odds of survival.) Also, wasn’t it great in his book that he never said it doesn’t taste good. It does. Morgan Spurlock said he loved the taste too in his movie “Supersize me.” Funny isn’t it.

    Here are a few reasons I don’t eat Morningstar farms or stuff like it (Taken from their website):
    Ingredients of Chik’n Tenders:
    Textured vegetable protein (soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, water for hydration) [mmm, big industrial sized vats of FOODSTUFF. All probably genetically engineered too.]
    water, enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), wheat flour, corn oil, wheat starch, cornstarch, contains two percent or less of hydrolyzed corn protein, [Why is that in there? I have no clue.]
    yellow corn flour, wheat gluten, salt, methylcellulose, [a nice indigestible diuretic. Must…go…to…bathroom.]
    modified corn starch, soy protein isolate, yeast extract, sugar, whey, [Animal product. I doubt this cow was milked at grampa’s dairy farm too. Hello antibiotic swill.]
    soybean oil, spices, dried yeast, caramel color, xanthan gum, sodium alginate, cellulose gum, [more laxative/emulsifier.]
    leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate), onion powder, inulin (chicory root fiber), paprika, paprika extract color, annatto extract color, natural and artificial flavors from non-meat sources, [God only knows.]
    egg whites, [welp, this ain’t gonna be PETA approved. Or kosher, come to think of it.]
    lactic acid, wheat fiber, dextrose, garlic powder, guar gum, [great band, oh wait, that’s GWAR, nevermind.]
    nonfat dry milk, [great, more animal]
    spice extractives.

    Free range hormone/antibiotic free chicken ingredients:
    Dead bird
    *A low fat source of protein.*

    I would ask the question, what eat all the shit in Morningstar farms FOODSTUFF, when you can just have the real thing. I have never known anyone who was worse off for eating meat, but I have known a lot of sickly ass and overweight vegetarians. Heck, I even lived as a fairly strict veg for four years of grad school, and although it turned me in to a lot of great recipes, I have never felt healthier than when I stopped eating those processed FOODSTUFFS, and started preparing balanced meals for myself.

    So to sum up, Morningstar farms ain’t poison, and barring measles, I think the real thing is still better for you. I realize I was born into a food chain, and I don’t have a problem with my place in it.

  • 6 Gabe A_nderson // Mar 14, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Anonymous- The difference between me and a cat, a lion, and Happy Dingo is that I can, for the most part, choose what to eat. I like to think that what I eat is based on more than just instincts.

    Alex- Points well taken. Remind me not to argue product ingredients with someone who knows the chemical breakdown of them, and probably what they look like under a microscope. :)

    Also, as I alluded to in my reference to Jane and Sarah’s “hand-picked cow” (from the family farm), I have no problem eating free-range, hormone-free chicken…. our eggs come from those chickens… bring ’em on!

    Fast food may not kill ya and it may taste good, but it’s certainly not good for you… but then again, so is the drinking of martinis, wine, and beer… I suppose we all have our vices. :)

  • 7 Anonymous Coward // Mar 14, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    I was merely contending that fake chicken probably doesn’t taste like real chicken, according to meat experts such as cats. Gabe can choose, believe and eat whatever he wants as long as he deems it to be in good taste.

  • 8 Bill & Connie // Mar 15, 2006 at 11:27 am

    All this talk about synthetic (substitute) yard bird from people who live in the shadow of Hattie’s Chicken Shack! What’s next?

    Bill & Connie
    Sarasota, Fl.

  • 9 Claudia // Mar 15, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    For me, organic and free-range is the way to go. I think it’s both good for one’s health and good for society to create a demand for such items. I feel like more humane, healthier, better-quality food has already gotten easier to find and easier to afford in the past few years, and for that, I am very happy. I hope it continues.

  • 10 Anonymous Coward // Mar 20, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Hey Gabe, have you noticed that your Google Ads are exclusively about *real* meat? Isn’t it ironic that *real* meat sellers are unknowingly sponsoring a blog about fake chicken? I think Google is a big scam.

  • 11 Stephanie // Mar 21, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    If you are eating fish, please don’t call yourself a vegetarian. I cannot describe how annoying it is, as a vegetarian, to have to explain to every single restaurant server everywhere that I do NOT eat fish. A pescetarian is a person who eats fish. A vegetarian does not. So many pescetarians have taken on the label of vegetarian that it makes life a lot more difficult for those of us who don’t eat any meat (including fish or poultry), because those who don’t know now believe that vegetarians eat fish.

    Just a public service announcement in support of veggies everywhere.

  • 12 Gabe A_nderson // Mar 21, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    Fair enough, Steph. Hence my original qualifier: “Mostly a vegetarian” — that is, on the days I don’t eat fish or other meat, which is most days. :)

    Though I haven’t updated it in a couple years, my about page describes me as “a pesco-pollo vegetarian who eats carne asada a couple times a year when James hosts BBQs”

    And here in upstate New York, we’ve actually been offered chicken after telling people that we don’t eat meat.