We humans are funny creatures. Most of us will claim to be independent thinking, fair and logical but unless you are a vegetarian most of us reading this from practically anywhere around the world have fallen victim to the burger hype.
From american burger chains Shake Shack and Five Guys popping up everywhere to the gourmet burger vans on street corners we are all salivating over the greasy, cheesy, melt in the mouth fat filled burgers. (did you just say mmmm?)
The growth in the burger industry has been attributed to the recession. With finances tight consumers are turning away from fine dining restaurants and instead looking for the ‘gourmet’ versions of their favourite fast foods. Queues snaking all the way down the road outside Five Guys in Covent Garden made me think, if time is money, how much are you really spending on that £8 burger? Is it worth it? Why is the food industry encouraging this new trend when it has been blamed for being one of the largest factors known to damage the environment?
Is beef really that bad for the environment
Yes! The Guardian recently published an articlewhich claims giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars. Studies have shown that the production of beef requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. The agricultural industry is a significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all emissions, half of which are from livestock.
From the perspective of the impact on the human population the huge amounts of grain and water needed to raise cattle is a concern to experts who are worried about feeding the extra 2 billion people by 2050.
Is this another call for vegetarianism?
No! Red meat in moderation is good for you and a great source of protein, zinc, phosphorus, iron and B-complex vitamins, red meat can help build strong muscles, teeth and bones while helping supply energy and oxygen to cells.Plus, lets be honest, its tasty. On that note there are similar meats available that have less impact on the environment such as widely available pork and chicken. The horse meat scandal last year taught us the lesson that we aren’t as discerning as we think we are and since its obviously cheaper and similar in flavour why are horse steaks not creeping into our supermarket shelves? I dont know the answer but the point is if you are really craving that burger go ahead and have one if you must; but if we can all make an effort to switch to alternative meats the world will thank us all.
Here in the UK we have an incredible range of meats which can be bought at reasonable prices from a good local butcher or farmers market when in season. Many restaurants and chefs in the UK are also supporting the seasonal and local message, our very own upcoming pop-up experimental restaurant Náttúra runs from September to December with an evolving seasonal menu which will feature locally farmed or hunted game, venison or lamb depending on availability.
I hope this inspires you to look beyond beef. Here is a list of seasonal meats in the UK:
January: Duck, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Venison, Goose
February: Guinea Fowl, Hare, Venison, pork
April: Wood Pigeon
May: Lamb, Wood Pigeon
June: Lamb, Quail, Wood Pigeon
July: Lamb, Pigeon, Quail, Rabbit, Wood Pigeon
August: Lamb, Pigeon, Quail, Rabbit, Wood Pigeon
September: Duck, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Lamb, Pigeon, Quail, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon
October: Duck, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Lamb, Partridge, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon, Autumn lamb
November: Duck, Goose, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Pheasant, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon, Autumn lamb
December: Duck, Goose, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Pheasant, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon, Autumn lamb