Monday, April 26, 2010

A Chicken Tax?

Time to pick on the poor chicken, and it’s really not the chicken’s fault. If you eat chicken, do you know what you’re eating? Do you know what you’re paying for? And do you know what you get as sort of an added bonus?

Get ready . . .

Unless you’re a really careful shopper and are willing to pay more for free-range, all-natural, organic, absolutely nothing added chicken, here’s what you get: chicken, water and salt—lots of salt. In fact, you may well be getting up to 15 percent added salt water that’s injected into the chicken. Sometimes you get added broth, marinade and oil as well. And, it’s approved by the USDA. And with that injected salt water—you get up to 550mg of sodium per 4 oz serving. To put this in perspective, most adults over age 45 should consume only 1,500 mgs of sodium per day, or less, yet the average adult consumes almost 4,000 mgs of sodium per day. Sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. (Reducing sodium to the recommended levels could save an estimated 100,000 lives a year.)

Now, if you’re like most of us, you want the best value for your money at the supermarket. And, when you see the label that says, “100 percent natural ingredients,” you may think that’s exactly what you get. It’s true that sodium and water are natural ingredients, but look at that label a little closer to be sure they aren’t “added” ingredients. If so, you’re chicken is no longer “all natural,” and you’re paying more for it.

Here’s where you get to pay the chicken tax.

You’re buying a 6 pound chicken. But, if 15 percent is added water weight (with added sodium), you’re really only getting about a 5 pound chicken. Add it all up and that extra 15 percent, or pound of chicken, costs American consumers about $2 billion each year. And, can you guess where that $2 billion “profit” goes?

So, how do you feel about paying more, getting less—and at the same time, paying for something (an unhealthy dose of sodium) that has no place in a chicken in the first place?

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