When you buy a whole chicken the breasts are white meat and the legs and thighs are dark meat. So if you are only eating white meat, what the hell do you think happens to the dark meat? A lot of it used to end up in chicken nuggets and canned soup, but in the past few years fast food restaurants have switched to all white meat nuggets and soup makers like Campbell’s have switched to just white meat in their chicken noodle soup. A lot of dark meat gets exported to Asia where they prefer dark meat, however they’ve begun to ape the American trend of preferring white meat.
So if you’re not eating dark meat (Americans prefer white meat 2 to 1), and if it’s not going to soups (like it had been for years until recently), where is the dark meat? A lot of it gets wasted and a lot of it has vanished through genetic modification. Selective breeding over the past 30+ years has led to top-heavy chickens with breasts over 20% larger than 30 years ago. Other genetic modifications may exist that we only hear rumors of. Slate.com has a great article that I’m stealing a lot of this info from.
I prefer dark meat, which is wonderful for me since preferring something less popular makes it likelier that I get to eat the thigh (my favorite part of the bird). It also means that I am able to buy dark meat for almost half of the cost of dark meat. But for many who prefer dark meat, the aforementioned Slate article shows how much of their preference is based on cultural and psychological factors.
The superiority of white meat is another health myth that has colored our perception so drastically that we have let it affect our taste. While dark meat is slightly higher in fat and calories it also has much more vitamins and minerals (y’know, the reasons we need food). If you are just eating white meat than someone has to be eating the dark meat. This balance of meat relationships is true with beef as well, the rise of McDonald’s and chain steakhouses coincided because one could take the best meat and one could take the worst (guess who serves the worst). Dark meat is delicious and it’s just as healthy as white meat. It is way more tender, more flavorful, and less dry. Save yourself some money, free yourself of marketing myths, and balance out the chicken.