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Thread: "White Meat, Dark Meat"

  1. #1 "White Meat, Dark Meat" 
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    Another, (perhaps the last), of my "imponderables", those unanswered mysteries which have prevailed over a lifetime. So, chickens are fowl, ducks are fowl, geese are fowl, Coots are fowl, maybe ostriches and emu, not sure about that, but ANYHOW, chickens have "white" and "dark" meat. Other fowls seem to be foul on that point. Ducks are all dark meat, as are geese. Giving the rest of the fowls benefit of doubt, WTH determines these differences? Turkeys have rather dark thighs and drumsticks, white breasts. ALL these tissues are comprised of muscle tissue, are they not? Actually, just about any "meat" we eat is muscle tissue, except for "organmeats".

    Personally, I lean towards dark meat, but enjoy turkey breast as well as chicken breast also. Seems I read long ago that "white meat" was nutritionally preferable due to, what,? Less fat, higher protein %?

    Beans for today's protein requirement, damn it! Pfffffrrrrt). jocular


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    Forum Masters Degree mat5592's Avatar
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    If I recall correctly, the color of the meat is dependent upon what the muscle is used for in the bird. I'll use chickens as an example. They're primarily ground birds and use their legs much more than their wings. As a result, they need to use oxygen more efficiently in their legs than their wings, and thus contain more oxygen carrying molecules like myoglobin, which I believe also gives the meat a darker color. The wings, which I would guess are somewhat controlled by the breast muscle, are used less often and only for short periods of time even when used, so having a high oxygen carrying capacity isn't as important.

    And I'm pretty sure dark meat has more fat, which is probably why it tastes better


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    As long as it's tasty....bring It on!
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I think these terms are used slightly differently in the UK: white meat referring to all poultry (and sometimes pork) while red meat refers to things like beef or lamb.

    It is commonly said that the American use of white/dark meat for different parts of the bird arose as 19th C euphemisms for the rather impolite terms b****t and l*g. (Although I haven't seen any evidence to support that.)
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    When told that white meat is "healthier for you than dark", you are being told "you're fat and you need guidance". This message to the general public comes from the dieticians of America.

    In this context pork lobbies to be classed as healthy white meat. That adds to the confusion: because pork is certainly mammal it is certainly red meat. We also say "white meat" in contrast to "red meat" to mean non-mammal. So salmon fillets are white meat; whale blubber is red meat.


    Related question: Why is human fat bright yellow? Shouldn't it approximate pig fat?
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    A note on the opening post.

    At least in avian taxonomy and the us meat market. Chickens are not fowl... They. game hens, pheasants, and turkey are all considered poultry (Closely related in the same pheasant subfamily). Fowl are the aquatic birds eg, ducks and geese. all part of a much different avian group.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    A note on the opening post.

    At least in avian taxonomy and the us meat market. Chickens are not fowl... They. game hens, pheasants, and turkey are all considered poultry (Closely related in the same pheasant subfamily). Fowl are the aquatic birds eg, ducks and geese. all part of a much different avian group.
    Forget not the American Coot. Somewhat smaller than ducks, aquatic, generally dark colored plumage, good flyers and swimmers, reproduce very prolifically by the millions annually, many millions of which produce the primary food source for predatory birds.

    They are comical to watch floating on the Colorado River, which is moving usually fairly rapidly, perhaps 3 mph or so. The coots paddle against the current at such rate as to remain stationary, facing upstream all the while. We have seen large groups of them doing this, numbers in the dozens in a group. joc
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    It is commonly said that the American use of white/dark meat for different parts of the bird arose as 19th C euphemisms for the rather impolite terms b****t and l*g. (Although I haven't seen any evidence to support that.)
    AS for when the designations originated, the 19th Century makes sense as it was the Victorian Era. I also understood those designations as euphemisms for such vulgarities as br**st and l*g ... and let's not forget th*gh (perish the thought). I also understood that dark meat contained more Vitamin B's, and having checked the Internet, it's apparently true.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    It is commonly said that the American use of white/dark meat for different parts of the bird arose as 19th C euphemisms for the rather impolite terms b****t and l*g. (Although I haven't seen any evidence to support that.)
    Meanwhile there is good evidence of polite society distancing itself from the uncomfortable brutality of slaughtering and eating animals, precisely the same animals vegans care most about. Thus we say pork not pig, and so forth. This explanation works better than the sexual one... though both may be in tandem.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    ... there is good evidence of polite society distancing itself from the uncomfortable brutality of slaughtering and eating animals ... Thus we say pork not pig, and so forth. ...
    I understand that our modern animal words tend to derive from the Old English and the Germanic languages, whereas our modern meat words derive from the French, the language of nobility after William conquered England in 1066. And so, pig refers to the animal and pork refers to the meat. The same holds true for most "four-letter words" and their more "sophisticated" alternatives.
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