The Impracticality Of A Cheeseburger

by Christopher Paul on December 6, 2011

From Waldo Jaquith via Daring Fireball:

I never thought of a cheeseburger like this but it’s really true: a single person cannot reasonably make a cheeseburger from scratch.

“Further reflection revealed that it’s quite impractical—nearly impossible—to make a cheeseburger from scratch. Tomatoes are in season in the late summer. Lettuce is in season in spring and fall. Large mammals are slaughtered in early winter. The process of making such a burger would take nearly a year, and would inherently involve omitting some core cheeseburger ingredients. It would be wildly expensive—requiring a trio of cows—and demand many acres of land. There’s just no sense in it.

A cheeseburger cannot exist outside of a highly developed, post-agrarian society. It requires a complex interaction between a handful of vendors—in all likelihood, a couple of dozen—and the ability to ship ingredients vast distances while keeping them fresh. The cheeseburger couldn’t have existed until nearly a century ago as, indeed, it did not.”

Reading on, it’s hard to imagine what it was like for anyone who wasn’t born in the past 75 years. Something as “fundamental” as a cheeseburger – an item that sells for a dollar at McDonalds – is really hard to imagine wasn’t around when my grandmothers were born.

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