Impact on American Culture
The hamburger has effected American culture in many ways. Some of the earliest memories for most Americans involve a barbecue of that consisted of, among other things, hamburgers. Furthermore, the opportunities afforded to entrepreneurs to open burger franchises has empowered individuals financially. McDonald’s restaurants have also become an icon of American enterprise abroad owing their success in great part to their variations of the hamburger.
With that said, however, a lot of the impact hamburgers have had on American culture, both socially and physically, has been negative. The health effects of the burger can be devastating to both adults and children because of its fat content, calories, and how often the burger is consumed. Socioeconomic background also plays a key role in determining what one eats and how often they consume unhealthy foods, therefore, poverty is linked to the obesity epidemic in the United States.
The foods that one chooses to buy are directly related to income. Because items on the McDonald’s Dollar Menu are generally cheaper than the healthier options, people in poverty cannot afford many healthy foods. According to Seth S. Martin, “Deprived living conditions, malnutrition, and poor access to health care can advance the progression from poverty to disease. The resultant disease can lead to more poverty via the association of disease with limited employability, high health care expenses, and losses of skills and ability”1. Of these different diseases, obesity is the most chronic and devastating2.. Thus the hamburger, at least in the most efficiently made and thus least expensive form, is damaging the health and quality of life of Americans.
Furthermore, the environmental impact of beef production needed to fuel restaurants and private consumption is staggering. “More than a third of all raw materials and fossil fuels consumed in the U.S. are used in animal production. Two critical elements in beef production consume vast amounts of resources. One, beef production alone uses more water than is consumed in growing the nation’s entire fruit and vegetable crop. Two, producing a single hamburger patty uses enough fuel to drive 20 miles and causes the loss of five times its weight in topsoil3. Author John Robbins said: “You’d save more water by not eating a pound of California beef than you would by not showering for an entire year.” Because of deforestation to create grazing land, each vegetarian saves an acre of trees per year”4.