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Probably more than many Americans, my life revolves around burgers. Not only do I enjoy a good burger myself, I sell them and have been doing so for sometime. I’m sure you’ll agree this makes me something of an authority on burgers.
And I like to do everything I can to preserve the classic American tradition of hamburgers. If it means grass-fed so people can feel better (and actually feel healthier) or veggie/ alternate meat burgers so it’s much more sustainable, I’m in full support. If keeping chances of food poisoning off means no medium rare and rare burgers, I agree.
But if there are a few things I can’t subscribe to, it’s fast food burgers with frozen patties, piled-on too many toppings that don’t make sense together at all, ginormous burgers piled with deep-fried potatoes, joints that urge patrons to try these ginormous burgers with no thought for their hearts and waistlines, and to a small extent, tomatoes in my burger.
This brings me to my idea of a perfect burger. Of course, there’s no single kind. Burgers are so incredibly versatile, and there are so many ways you can go with each separate element of the burger so it all comes together as a sum greater than its parts.
But when it comes to the patty, the bun, and flavors, everyone has their preferences. Without being too highbrow, I do pay attention to a few things in particular when I order/sell my burgers.
Where the beef comes from
This means making sure the cattle is not fed on hormones. There is a host of growth hormones that are given to cattle, and sometimes implanted, to make them grow faster. These include estrogen, trenbolone acetate, progesterone, zeranol and testosterone. In a hormone injection, farmers implant a steroid behind the animal’s ear, rather like ear-piercing in humans.
The weight of the cows increase rapidly and the notoriously inefficient cattle meat production becomes super-efficient and brings in more money. Eating beef sourced from such cattle may have some harmful effects on human health.
It’s also, sometimes, not a very humane way to treat the animals. Unpleasant surprises occur, when a hormone or steroid causes hoofs to fall off cattle.
Of course cases of overcrowded buildings where the animals are fed candy, slaughterhouse waste and cardboard are shocking. I don’t believe anything good can come out of eating beef sourced from such dubious, irresponsible slaughterhouses.
On the other hand, grass-fed cattle is healthier, happier and safer for humans to consume. Forget steroids, even feeding cattle grains doesn’t produce the effects that grass-feeding does. You don’t feel drowsy and fagged after eating grass-fed beef, like you do with grain-finished beef.
A grass-fed cattle.
That’s why I strongly believe in the grass-fed case. Great tasting beef from Hereford, Angus and others is possible only because these cattle do well on natural forage. The animals that feed on grass all their lives become tasty marbled beef. When they’ve matured naturally, and are slaughtered at the right peak time, the quality of the meat is much finer than beef from hormone-grown cattle.
Of course, this also puts a premium on the burger made from this beef. I recognize that most chain stores won’t be able to afford it and keep the prices satisfyingly low. How many people are willing to pay $20 for a burger, the price of a night at the cheapest hostel in expensive Tokyo?
At the same time, I’m also open to alternatives like veggie burgers, or stem cell burgers that involve fewer cattle killing or hormones.
Of course, taste is paramount. There are probably no easy answers here.
The other things that make good burger are:
Super-soft bun. You don’t need dense bread. The meat patty is dense enough as it is.
Juicy, perfectly-done patty, whether this is beef, chicken or veggies. Unlike many purists, I don’t think burgers must continue to be beef burgers for it to be worth anything at all. There are lots of flavors that we could explore, many of which are a lot more healthy than beef.
The right combination of condiments and toppings. I believe there can be too many toppings on a burger. You definitely don’t need any condiments to mask the flavor of a high quality, grass-fed beef.
Crisp lettuce, a few veggies, pickle, some nice onions, not too much. You don’t want to bury the burger in condiments. It’s a way to mask poor quality beef.
Lots of creativity.
Check out my selections of some of the finest burgers in the US and beyond. I hope you find an irresistible burger on the menu. And keep up the gym workout.