The good old fashioned American bbq bacon cheeseburger. Nothing could be better than sitting and watching it sizzle on the grill as the smell starts to waft through the air. What could possibly be wrong with it other than its obvious health issues? This question can be answered with a simple one word answer: sustainability.
First we must start with the contents of such a great burger. I am a very plain guy so my burger usually just includes the buns, patty, bacon, cheese, and bbq sauce. These items themselves sound good, and together they are even better, but not for the environment. The buns themselves are usually pretty sustainable, but they can be made with a more sustainable ingredient that will be shown later on in this article. On the other hand, the burger patty is quite the opposite. In the UK, a burger patty bought must only contain 62% beef (Reynolds). What does this mean? It means that the patty will be made up of random ingredients for the other 38% that include but are not limited to: onions, fat, and flour (Reynolds). This sounds good from an overall standpoint because the less beef the more sustainable, right? Actually, the beef itself produces a large amount of carbon emissions, but what people don’t know is how much beef goes to waste. The carbon emissions from the beef are produced through the production, so once the beef is produced, it really doesn’t get less sustainable. Staying on the topic of the UK, about 13% of beef never gets eaten (Reynolds). This means that the rest of the beef is not used, and a lot of it is thrown out. This is a complete waste of the carbon emissions that were produced anyways from the beef. It actually comes out to about 1.4 million tons of excess carbon emissions. That is just from the burger patty itself. Ouch. Regarding the other ingredients, the bacon is generally pretty sustainable, the bbq sauce is sustainable depending on the spices used inside, but the cheese is another non-sustainable item. The cows needed to produce the cheese and meat end up producing a large amount of methane which is even worse for our environment than the carbon emissions! So, now the task at hand is to create a burger that is more sustainable than its base form.
The new burger will have a few things changed. We can change the buns to make sure that they incorporate a more sustainable flour. The burger patty itself could be changed to any type of veggie patty, but this would actually be worse for the problem. We need to incorporate 100% beef patties to ensure that no extra carbon emissions are emitted for no reason through waste of beef. Let’s be honest, not everyone in this world is going to switch to a veggie burger, so there would always be a production of beef that would eventually lead to high waste. Next is the bacon. The only way to make this more sustainable would be to make sure that it is sourced from local pigs and to make sure that the pigs are raised in environmentally friendly conditions. The bbq sauce can be either completely taken out, or a homemade bbq sauce using local ingredients may be used. Lastly, the cheese can be sourced from companies such as Cabot that claim to be more sustainable than other creameries Cabot Creamery.
By changing these ingredients, we “will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds” starting with the way we think about food (Barry). This is an essential step to start to get the world to be more aware of the food that we are consuming. By getting people to think about something as common as a burger, we can start to apply these principles to all foods that we consume.
- Store bought beef patty
- Any brand of buns
- Slice of cheese
- BBQ Sauce
- New 100% beef patty
- Buns that use sustainable flour (may have to be homemade)
- Local bacon
- Cabot cheese
- Local BBQ sauce (optional)
- Take patty and apply to grill at 450 degrees (Christensen)
- Take patty off of grill at desired cooked level
- Put patty on the bottom bun
- Place cheese slice on top of patty
- Put bacon crossed on top of cheese
- Use as much BBQ as desired
Reynolds, Christian. “Why I’m Obsessed with Making the Most Sustainable Burger Possible.” SBS PopAsia, SBS News, 23 Mar. 2018, www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2018/03/23/why-im-obsessed-making-most-sustainable-burger-possible.
“Sustainability in Our Creameries.” Cabot Creamery, www.cabotcheese.coop/sustainability-in-our-creameries.
Christensen, Emma. “How To Grill Really Juicy Burgers.” Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, LLC., 26 May 2018, www.thekitchn.com/how-to-grill-really-juicy-burgers-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-51194.
Berry, Wendell. A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural and Agricultural. Counterpoint Press, 2012.