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Before, making a choice of hamburger at a summer barbecue was easy: either go for a beef patty or bring your own frozen veggie burger. Fortunately, that has all changed: the hamburger choices on the market today seem endless. That said, more choice means more responsibility. It may seem harder than ever to find the best option for a delicious, sustainable, and healthy burger. With that in mind, and as Labor Day approaches, here is our assessment.
8. Grass-fed beef burger
If you go for a beef burger, grass-fed beef from a small farm is your best bet. Grass-fed beef is richer in CLA and omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s more human to boot.
“Ruminants like cattle, sheep, goats and buffaloes have stomachs designed to digest grass,” says the Grassland Beef team. “Grains can cause health problems in cattle, resulting in lower or more acidic pH levels than normal. “
Grass-fed beef is also often a more sustainable choice, says Lindsay Fuce, certified nutritionist and founder of Freckle Studio.
“Many grass-fed farms are practicing regenerative agriculture, which is helping to reverse climate change,” she says. “When cows are raised in a well-managed, grass-fed pasture environment, there is less energy used due to the cows moving steadily from cool pasture to cool pasture. “
That said, there is more to the purported sustainability of grass-fed food than it looks.
“Comparing the durability of grass fattening to grain fattening cannot be achieved just by looking at what the cow ate – be it grain or grass,” warns Lauren Stine, writer and adjunct law professor who raises cattle, sheep and goats in northwest Arkansas. . “A more important question to ask is how these animals have been managed throughout their lives. “
During animal grazing can Supporting a Healthy Ecosystem Through Regenerative Agriculture, some studies have shown that grain-fed meat actually emits less greenhouse gases. This is in part due to the fact that grass-fed cows gain weight more slowly and therefore emit more methane over their lifetimes.
To add insult to injury, grass-fed foods may not be much healthier than grain-fed ones, according to Elizabeth Huggins, RDN at Hilton Head Health, an all-around health and wellness complex. understood.
“Most of the nutritional differences between grass-fed beef and grain-finished beef are insignificant,” she says, noting that although technically speaking, grass-fed beef contains more omega fatty acids. -3 than grain-fed beef, “neither type of beef is a rich source of omega-3.
“So while grass-finished beef may boast that it contains up to 2x the omega-3s, the overall beef content remains pale compared to some cold-water fatty fish. “
While the differences in health and durability may be minimal, we still prefer grass fattening because it is more humane. Choose beef from a small producer for the best in flavor, health benefits and environmental impact.
7. Chicken burger
A chicken burger is definitely leaner than a beef burger, and it’s also more durable. According to a recent study, choosing chicken over beef cuts your burger’s carbon footprint in half.
That said, it is important to be judicious in choosing your chicken burger.
“Depending on which parts of the chicken or turkey were used for grinding, this will determine the amount of total and saturated fat it contains,” says Manju Karkare, RDN. “A chicken burger or even a turkey burger is not necessarily healthier than a beef burger if it contains just as much saturated fat.
And while chicken has less of an impact on the environment than beef, industrial chicken production is fraught with problems related to the humane treatment of animals. Choose pastured chicken from a brand approved by animal welfare. Better yet, rather than opting for a highly processed burger, consider grilling a chicken breast and serving it in place of a burger or on our Grilled Chicken, Mozzarella & Tomato Panini.
6. Low-quality, store-bought veggie burgers
Evidence continues to mount showing that cutting down on meat – or eliminating meat altogether – is a greener choice than simply choosing more sustainable meat. A 2018 study found that eating a plant-based diet was the best way to reduce your footprint. That said, not all veggie burgers are created the same.
Plant-based burgers can be “incredibly toxic,” according to Erik Levi of Holistic Nootropics.
“Check out the ingredient list for any plant-based burger and you’ll find a number of things you don’t want in your body, let alone on your grill,” he says. These ingredients can include hydrogenated canola and sunflower oils, both of which are other additives and sugars that can make some veggie burgers a far from healthy alternative.
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5. Second Generation Plant-Based Burgers
The Impossible Burger garnered a lot of attention when it was first released: a vegan patty that bleeds like meat, Impossible is certainly helping people go vegetarian … but at what cost?
The folks behind Impossible make no secret of the fact that their burger is “a double whammy of genetic engineering,” as Hans Eisenbeis, director of marketing and communications at the Non-GMO Project, explains.
“New GMOs are causing the heme that makes this burger ‘bleed’, while the protein base is old-fashioned herbicide-tolerant GMO soy,” he says.
While none of the GMOs are particularly natural, it’s the latter that makes this burger so disturbing. Ninety-four percent of all soybeans grown in the United States are genetically engineered to withstand repeated spraying of glyphosate. The herbicide is the active ingredient in Roundup (Monsanto / Bayer) and was considered a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization in 2015. (We looked at why the Impossible Burger is not not durable.)
And to top it off, despite being made with plants, it’s not that good for you.
“The Impossible Burger, while quite tasty, is loaded with sodium, preservatives, fillers, and flavors that help achieve that burger taste,” Fuce adds.
If you need your veggie burger to taste like beef, Beyond might be a tastier deal. Made with pea protein and verified by the Non-GMO Project, it is definitely more sustainable than Impossible.
That said, Beyond isn’t as nutritious as the Impossible Burger. A Consumer Lab report noted that while Impossible “provides as much or more of almost all of the vitamins and minerals found in appreciable amounts in a beef burger, other than choline and selenium,” Beyond “does not provide any of the vitamins, not even vitamin B12, which people on a vegan diet need fortified foods or supplements because they are best obtained from meats, dairy products and eggs. ” Indeed, apart from calcium, potassium and proteins, Beyond does not bring any real nutritional benefit to consumers.
4. Vegetarian burgers
An interesting compromise between a real veggie burger and a beef burger is a mixed burger, like those from Applegate’s Well Carved.. These burgers are made with frozen organic meat combined with an array of vegetables, grains and legumes. Each burger offers about a quarter of a cup of vegetables per serving. The Well-Sculpted Organic Grass-Fed Beef Burger has been found in independent HowGood research to create 51% less greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional beef burger and use 67% less water due to runoff than a conventional beef burger. And since the beef used in these burgers is organic, it’s not a bad choice.
3. Salmon burger
Salmon burgers aren’t just delicious – they’re also high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re easy to make at home from canned wild salmon.
“They are certainly healthier than beef burgers because they are richer in healthy fat and low in saturated fat, ”says Lisa Richards. Richards is a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet, which notes that, like poultry, salmon is slightly more sustainable than beef because it requires less soil and feed than large cattle.
That said, salmon is far from the most sustainable fish there is. You’ll want to be extra careful looking for a sustainable brand of salmon (see the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Guide to Salmon) before making a tasty salmon patty (try our delicious recipe for Salmon Burger and Kale Salad) , or consider using a fish, such as mackerel.
2. High-quality, store-bought veggie burgers
While some veggie burgers are made with loads and processed ingredients, others are quite durable – and delicious! Fuce recommends Dr. Praegers. These vegetable burgers are made with avocado or sunflower oil. They are gluten-free, soy-free and are made with ingredients verified by the Non-GMO Project.
Richards, meanwhile, loves Beyond Meat and Boca Burger, while Karkare loves Morning Star. Quorn is a proven vegan brand with mycoprotein-based burgers that require 90% less soil and water to produce than beef burgers, with a carbon footprint 10 times smaller than beef and four times smaller than beef. chicken.
1. Homemade vegetarian burger
The best burger choice you can make this summer, however, is to make your own at home. From a simple marinated portobello mushroom hat to a homemade bean burger, this option allows you to source all the ingredients yourself and exercise control over their provenance and quality. Here are some of our favorite recipes:
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