According to who you ask, May is the National month of various beef products with Wikipedia listing 3 National days dedicated to the meat within the month including National Italian Beef Day, National Brisket Day and National Burger day (on May 27, 28 and 29th respectively), and many celebrate the entire month of May in honor of hamburgers.
The hamburger: though a category all its own, it is arguably America’s favorite “sandwich” and certainly one of the crowing jewels of classic American foods (right up there with apple pie). So, as we prepare for the start of backyard BBQ season, let’s fire up the grill and take a moment to celebrate this all American staple.
According to information on National Hamburger Month from National Today’s website, the hamburger made its first appearance at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and the New York Tribune called the it “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike” (i.e. the mile-long stretch that showcased all the activities and amusements at the fair) – and from there the rest is delicious history.
But we can’t celebrate hamburgers without also celebrating rendering’s role in the production of beef and other livestock used to produce these juicy treats – and all the meat we eat.
The parts of the cow we use for a burger are very specific, and the same goes for the parts of turkey used for a turkey burger, the parts of a pig used for bacon, and the parts of a chicken used for nuggets (just to name a few).
In fact, all the meat North Americans like to use for food accounts for only about half the animal itself. This leaves lots of leftovers that would be wasted were it not for rendering.
Whether you are a fan of burgers or not, from an environmental standpoint it’s important to ensure that this left-over material doesn’t end up as food waste and take up precious landfill space. That’s where rendering comes in.
Rendering takes the rest of that cow and safely and hygienically processes that leftover material (like organ meats, fat, and bone) and safely and hygienically processes it into rendered material for use in new products, so nothing is wasted.
This safe, clean, and sustainable rendered material (that would have been food waste were it not for rendering) is then used as ingredients for countless new goods like safe and nutritious pet food and animal feed, household and industrial products, biofuels, renewable diesel, and many more common items – saving landfill space, and recycling 99% of this unwanted material into new and valuable goods we use every day!
Rendering the unused parts of an animal instead of wasting them also helps to minimize the environmental impacts (like climate change) of animal agriculture and protects the environment from the high greenhouse gas emissions of other disposal methods.
In fact, rendering avoids at least 90% of the potential GHG emissions compared with industrial composting, and an average rendering plant sequesters 5 times more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the environment (such as carbon dioxide) than it emits.
So, as you celebrate Hamburger month, take a moment to think about everything that didn’t end up in the bun and appreciate all renderers do to ensure that otherwise wasted material is used for new, upcycled goods and doesn’t end up as food waste – you might have even driven to get your burger using renewable fuel produced by that material!
To learn more about rendering’s sustainability benefits click here.