We can has cheeseburger!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted new items over at Culture Making, but this week I’ve found myself feeling it may be time again. Besides, “what does a cheeseburger say about the world” is just the sort of question Andy Crouch and I started that blog to investigate (or at least to catalog others’ investigations thereupon).

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.


from “On the impracticality of a cheeseburger,” by Waldo Jaquith, 3 December 2011 :: via kottke.org

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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