One day my husband arrived home from the supermarket with a product that piqued my curiosity. He couldn't find our usual brand of Bell & Evans breaded, frozen chicken tenders─I like their thick, meaty texture, which makes them seem a bit closer to the real thing─and instead got Applegate Farms Organic Chicken Strips.

  一天,我丈夫从超市带回的一件产物引起了我的好奇。他没找到我们常吃的Bell &Evans牌冷冻裹粉鸡柳──我喜好这种鸡柳丰富质密的口感,吃起来更靠近真的鸡肉──而是买了Applegate Farms牌有机鸡柳。

  I heated up the strips, which looked more like nuggets, and tasted them. The texture was airy and spongy, not very meaty. The chicken struck me as highly processed, but the box said that what I was eating was, in fact, 'minimally processed.' The listed ingredients seemed simple enough─organic chicken, water, organic rice starch, sea salt and natural flavor.


  Intrigued and confused, I added the remaining frozen nuggets to the collection of foods that I was leaving to age, as research for my book. (And, yes, I know that this was not a rigorous scientific experiment.) I prepared myself for an awful smell.


  After about two weeks, the Applegate nuggets, which I'd placed in a Ziploc bag left slightly open, had essentially liquefied, with the outlines of the individual chicken pieces no longer visible. The whole thing was soft and mushy to the touch, and the color had darkened.


  In early 2012, pink-slime beef became a poster child for distrust of industrialized food-processing, but chicken endures considerably more high-tech poking and prodding than beef. The chicken in the supermarket's frozen-food aisle is seldom the same thing you'd prepare at home. It may sometimes start off as recognizable cuts of meat and use familiar ingredients, but then machines take over.


  More often than not, chicken is mixed under high pressure and tumbled together with flavoring, starch, sodium phosphate and soy protein. Then it is fashioned into tenders, nuggets, patties, boneless 'wings' and 'breasts.' Even in cases where the meat is advertised as 'whole muscle, ' sodium phosphate helps the meat take on water, partly for reasons of profit and partly as insurance against its becoming rubbery. The Applegate strips that dissolved after two weeks had no such additives and were billed on the box as 'all natural.'


  After this experience, I talked with Chris Ely, one of Applegate's founders. He said that the company was definitely 'not in the sponge business.' He added, 'When you bite into our nuggets, you'll notice that our meat is a little loose in the center.' More-conventional manufacturers, he said, mix their product excessively, using various additives to absorb water and bind everything together snugly, lowering the cost.

  过后我和Applegate的首创人之一克里斯??伊利(Chris Ely)举办了攀谈。他说,他的公司必定“不回收这种海绵式做法”。他增补道,“吃我们的鸡块时,你会留意到中央部门有点疏松。”他说,传统厂商会太过搅拌鸡肉,并用种种添加剂接收个中水分,把全部的对象都细密地挤压在一路,并压低本钱。

  When I told Mr. Ely about my experiment, he said that though he had never tested his product this way (who would?), the chicken might be more prone to disassembly because it isn't bound together with additives. Another company's nuggets (this time with sodium phosphate and other additives) dissolved in the same way when I later tested them. But the Bell & Evans tenders did well with the two-week test: I got foul-smelling chicken, but it remained intact.

  当我跟他谈起我的尝试时,伊利说,固然他从未云云检讨过他的产物(谁会呢?),但他以为,没有添加过起紧实浸染的添加剂的鸡肉,也许会更轻易解析。其后我检讨了另一家公司的鸡块(他们的鸡肉中有磷酸钠及其他添加剂),功效鸡肉同样解析了。可是,Bell &Evans的鸡柳在两周的检讨中示意很好:鸡肉披发出臭味,但外形齐备无损。

  I told Mr. Ely that my results suggested that his chicken was more of a maximally processed product than a 'minimally processed' one, as the box said.