Q: What Foods are Rich in Collagen?

A: For us to consume collagen, we must look to high-protein parts of animals.

You’re probably thinking—“Oh, I eat chicken everyday—I’m fine.” 

But here’s the catch. Collagen is not in a salmon fillet or a piece of chicken breast—but in the animals’ skin, joints, bones, and muscle tissue. 

What if I don’t want to be eating animals’ bones or skin?

Americans do not generally eat these parts of animals (and now you’re thinking, Other countries eat these parts? And the answer is yes—chicken feet are a delicacy in Korean cuisine, among others). 

The Korean diet is full of collagen for many reasons, but an interesting one that my grandmother would never let me forget is that Korea used to be an extremely poor country. Although Korea, and where I grew up in Seoul, is so developed that it mirrors the ever-cosmopolitan New York City, even just 50 years ago it was thought to be a third-world country. When my grandmother told me she grew up in a straw-hut house, I remember I didn’t believe her. So, when I wouldn’t finish my food, she would always tell me a story about the importance of food: When my grandma was younger, food was so scarce, she could barely ever have meat—and it was considered to be the biggest luxury when she was able to get it for her children. And because it was such a rarity to have chicken at the table, when she was able to get it, she would split it seven different ways for her five children, my grandfather, and herself—and she did not discriminate as to which part of the animal they got. This explains why Koreans leave zero waste of anything—they had to make do with the little they were given—hence the creation of such foods as fried chicken feet. But interestingly enough, it happens to be that Koreans had accidentally cracked the code!

The closest Americans get to eating collagen in its natural state is as bone broth—which can be made by simmering bones (or backs, necks, and feet) for more than 12 hours, until a rich and almost sticky broth is produced.

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