I have a confession to make. As a child I loved chicken nuggets. I loved McDonald's wide array of dipping sauces, and my sister and I would have lengthy discussions about which were the best ones. They were a special treat that we enjoyed.

As an adult, I look back and realize that much of what I loved about chicken nuggets (and, for all I know, they were a different product then what are now served) was not any potential protein fillers and chemicals that could have been laced into our meal. But rather I loved what most kids love – mild chicken meals that fulfilled my protein needs, served with a sweet flavorful sauce. A homemade version would have been just as lovely.

In fact, I think that chicken nuggets, even in their fakest forms, are tapping into a child’s innate need of high-quality protein and delicious food. And that’s why I hate it when kid-friendly foods aren’t fulfilling their biological purpose, but are instead filled with garbage. The child picking out chicken nuggets for a school lunch isn’t making that decision based on a need for sugar, soy, and chemicals, but rather a need for good food that those little nuggets of hopefully-real-food should be meeting.

Monica Eng from the podcast, Chew the Fat, of WBEZ in Chicago has been trying to find out from the Chicago public schools what’s really in their chicken nuggets. The school claimed that information wasn’t available from their food suppliers, but when the station finally filed a Freedom of Information Act request, she got the information she asked for. Unsurprisingly, the chicken nugget was mostly … not chicken.

Here’s the list of the chicken filling (but not the coating): Textured soy protein concentrate, isolated soy protein, brown sugar, salt, onion powder, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, citric acid, potassium chloride, sodium phosphates, and chicken. I love how chicken is kind of thrown in at the end, almost like an afterthought.

I have two problems with this. First, and most importantly, children eating a lot of chicken nuggets that are soy-based have the potential to be harmed by it. This is obviously a controversial topic, but I personally don’t think that soy should be eaten in large amounts, but take the stance that soy should be eaten in moderation in fermented form. And the second problem I have with this is the food deception. A child who thinks he's being served a chicken dish should be served a chicken dish. Not a soy dish with a little chicken mixed in. It rubs me the wrong way.

Do you have a problem with your children being fed soy-based dishes when they are served “chicken”? 

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