Fast Food Free February

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Fast Food Free February in our house. Why? Because....

This photo has been making it's way around Facebook lately. I ignored it at first. I would rather be blissfully ignorant while I munch my "chicken" nuggets dipped in high fructose corn syrup/sweet n sour sauce. It is cheap. It is fast. I have two children and we are on the go a lot and I KNOW my son will actually eat something at McDonald's without a fight. It tastes fairly tasty (going down, about 15 minutes later is another story). And honestly, I crave it from time to time. But then I kept seeing the photo more and more, and I opened up Pandora's box. I KNOW McDonald's is not good for me. They publish their fat and calories right on your meal now and I know it's just junk...but I never really looked into WHAT was in it. When I did, I told the family we would be having NO fast food in the month of February as a little science experiment. 

So here is what scared me (from the book, "Omnivore's Dilema")

“The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, I counted thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There's some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.
According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the "leavening agents": sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. Then there are "anti-foaming agents" like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it's also flammable. But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness." According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”

February 1st: I had absolutely NO clue how reliant we were on Fast Food until the first day of our experiment. I kinda craved it. And so did my son, he cried when I told him the rules. 

What are the rules? No fast food chain restaurants except for Subway and Starbucks (but only skim lattes at Starbucks, when the almost one year old starts sleeping through the night, maybe Mommy won't need so much coffee, and only "real" food at Subway). I noticed right away how often I bribed my son with McD's just to get him in the car or to stop a fit. Ya, parent of the year right here! This little fast food strike was going to be more effective than I thought!

Last month I bought a ton of Chicken from Zaycon Foods, so one day I baked up some "naked" chicken nuggets (to add to salads, put on skewers and serve at lunch or just dip em) along with some "shake n bake" chicken nuggets. My son looked right at me as I was elbow deep in chicken bits and said, "McDonalds does that better". Ouch. I went back to my thankless job, baked, then froze my chicken nuggets for another day.

A couple days ago I needed a fast lunch option, and remembered my chicken nuggets. Of course he first thought we were going to McD's...but when I showed him the ones mommy made, he was ok with it and enjoyed them a lot. I was even told they were the best he has ever eaten! Mommy for the win!!

Today is Day 8 and my son hasn't asked for McDonald's or any other fast food in a few days. He is eating better and not needing a toy to bribe him to eat. I swear even his behavior is better. I don't blame fast food companies for making cruddy food at cheap prices, they do it because it's a major business. I blame me for being lazy, and not sticking to my "My kids won't eat McD's" stance. Being a good mom is harder than it looks. 

I think we are all happier for the change and we are only 1/3 of the way through the month. It takes more planning on my part (I MUST pack snacks when we leave the house, and I'm still not good at doing this) but it's even helping our pocket book. BONUS!

1 comment:

  1. Great job lady! I refuse to eat McDonalds, I think I've eaten there about 6 times in the last 10 years and it makes me feel sick every time. Jeff takes Izabelle there on occasion and I always state my disapproval (in a kind of humorous way as to not disrespect him, cause it is his choice, but I do think it's nasty!)

    Subway is actually Izabelle's favorite fast food place to eat!
    I love the concept behind this blog, it really hits on some ways I'm trying to live my life too, I'm just not as organized as you. Type A I am NOT.