Producing a quarter pound hamburger requires 450 gallons of water and emits 6.5 pounds of greenhouse gases, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. With the introduction of the blended burger, Dining Services is helping cut those numbers in half.
A relatively recent addition to the grill stations at the Danforth University Center (DUC) and the Bear’s Den (BD), the blended burger offers a creative solution for reducing meat consumption. The burgers are a mix of meat and non-meat, and blends vary, including Korean beef and mushroom, banh mi (made of pork and shiitake mushrooms), and turkey and white bean.
“I like the blended burger conceptually,” said sophomore Dugan Marieb. “For a lot of people, being vegetarian is a bigger stretch, but most Americans could cut down on their meat consumption, especially WashU students. This is an easy way to get a good meal with less meat in it.”
Back in October, Dining Services had an internal blended burger cook-off competition to determine the most delicious blend for burgers. Chefs Patrick Thrower, Tom Martoccio, and Christopher Gapinski won it over four other burger entries with a Southwestern turkey and black bean burger with chipotle, green chimichirri, pickled radish, and onion topped with queso fresco. Since then, WashU chefs have continued to develop new recipes. WashU isn’t the only place where this trend is taking hold; the blended burger concept is part of a national movement spearheaded by the James Beard Foundation. One of the foundation’s goals is to support sustainable food across the country, and restaurants and university campuses from 45 states participated in the project last year, developing their own burger recipes.
Blending meat with other ingredients reduces the burger’s environmental impact while still providing a savory, novel and healthy meal option for those who aren’t vegetarian or vegan. For those who do chose to go fully plant-based, the grills have also introduced new vegan burgers including the “Beyond Burger,” a burger famed for its meat-like taste and texture, and the Italian sausage vegan burger.