Food Review: Driving made the Impossible Burger Possible!
December 23, 2019
It’s 6am and my circadian rhythm is set and drplasticpicker is up! I am an early riser especially now that my sleep is more restful. Our family is in Las Vegas for a brief night at the New York New York hotel. When the plastic picker children wake up, we will head out and drive to our final vacation destination. We decided to drive rather than fly, as we take the climate crisis seriously. Mr. Plastic Picker is driving our trusty red Prius which averages 50 MPG on the highway. We don’t need to rent a car when we get there! Ca-ching ching! The 1500 mile round trip from our home to our mountain destination would have expelled 1.12 tons of carbon if we had flown, instead we will contribute 0.23 tons of carbon. Driving expels only 18% of the carbon of an equivalent flight according to carbonfund.org since we have four in our car. And this adventure of environmentalism has given us new experiences. Let me describe how choosing to drive and not fly made the Impossible Burger possible, but reminded us the home-cooking is best for our health and the environment.
As we drove along the desert stretch from Southern California to Las Vegas, the highway was surprisingly empty except for the plastic along the low-lying fences. Where were all the other cars? Maybe it is all those new budget short haul flights? Just checked online and a one-way flight on one of those budget no-frills airplanes is $47 and takes 1.5 hours. No wonder the roads are empty! An Amtrak bus ticket is about $83 and takes 11 hours. Our ~300 mile drive took about 6.5 gallons of gas at about $3.80 a gallon, $25 and took 6 hours. At our payrate, some physicians would think it doesn’t make sense to drive. But when you calculate the environmental impact it does make sense. Because no matter how much money you have at the end, if the sea rises and floods our coastal homes and our children can’t breathe the air – how much is all that money worth?
But let me channel happy drplasticpicker and not eco-anxious drplasticpicker! We had a beautiful adventure because we drove rather than flew. We stopped by Barstow and we went to try the Impossible Burger at Burger King!
Our family does not eat at fast-food restaurants that often, and especially since starting our plastic reduction life-style we eat mostly at home and are trying to cook more. Our food waste has dramatcially decreased. I have also decreased my Costco shopping and going to Sprouts Farmers Market more.
But even with the fruit I packed and the Trader Joe’s snacks, we needed to stop to eat in Barstow. There were fancier options like Chipolte, Panera and Asian fusion places along the highway, but Mr. Plastic Picker wanted to try the Impossible Burger at Burger King. We are more of an In-N-Out family but we are trying to eat less beef so Burger King it was. We went there specifically to try the Impossible Burger.
Let us explore the environemtnal benefits of the Impossible Burger versus a regular beef burger. The articles I perused while sitting shot-gun and feeding our driver Mr. Plastic Picker locally sourced Utah beef jerky (I know the irony of it!) was that plant-based meats have many environmental benefits. The best article was by Rina Raphael from the website Fast Company https://www.fastcompany.com/90322572/heres-how-the-footprint-of-the-plant-based-impossible-burger-compares-to-beef. I will summarize in general vegan meat patties
- 90% less greenhouse gas emissions
- 46% less energy
- 99% less impact on water scarcity
- 93% less impact on land use
Let us do a quick Ecosia search (better alternative to Google) and see what the internet thinks about the Impossible Burger nutritionally. nbcnews.com had an opinion piece from September 2018 that concludes it is not healthier. Calorically the Impossible burger is the same as a beef burger and there is more sodium. Hmm. It’s always important to check your sources. The article is written by a “writer, certified personal trainer and certified nutritionist.” The founder of one of the biggest alternative meat companies is Ethan Brown who is an MBA. He does not have any medical credentials. Clean money? Dirty money? Dr. Plastic Picker is blogging and providing you entertainment for free! Let’s make our own decision.
Just glancing at the Impossible Burger nutritional label, it has about the same calories as a beef patty (240 calories) and high sodium content (370 mg) but it does have 3 grams of fiber ! Beef burger 0 grams of fiber. As you remember, Dr. Plastic Picker is on a crusade to combat the Pediatric Fiber Deficit https://drplasticpicker.com/squeasy-gear-1-tackling-the-pediatric-fiber-deficit-with-real-fruit-and-not-plastic/. Not bad. We paired our Impossible Burger with tap water from our reusable water bottles. See picture as above for evidence.
The price of the Impossible Burger was about the same as a Beef Whopper about $6. In terms of price, cooking at home is always better than eating fast food. Remember when Dr. Plastic Picker cooked Thanksgiving dinner? Our grocery total was $22.11 and that comes out to only $3.70 per person ! https://drplasticpicker.com/cooking-a-turkey-saved-money-used-less-plastic-and-finally-felt-at-home/ But we were on a road trip and the kids needed to stretch out their legs.
So what did our family think?
Middle-school daughter, “It was exactly the same as a whopper.” Hmm, I don’t think she has ever eaten a whopper but maybe she meant a beef burger.
Her father, Mr. Plastic Picker replied, “That’s the point. It’s all a gimmick. It’s a trick to get people into the door. And when we got in the door, we also got mozzarella sticks and cheese tots.” OMG, as I am finishing this blogpost at 6AM I realize the mozzarella sticks have 860 mg of sodium! We split it 4 ways so that was still 200mg more of sodium. OMG, the cheesy tots has 780mg of sodium that is 200mg of sodium per cheesy tot!
Our high-school son had the best perspective, “It’s great. But in reality they are just making meat for cheaper with vegetables. It’s no different than a regular burger. And I applaud that. I believe in the future we should get rid of all our cows.” Did I tell you he is entering that dystopian /teenage angst stage in life? Our high-school son had a slightly higher blood pressure before Cross-Country season. He is much more fit now and I’ve drastically reduced his sodium intake, but writing this blogpost I cannot believe I just let him eat that much sodium not from the Impossible Burger but the Mozarella sticks and cheese tots! Maternal guilt in full force.
We also ended our family discussion on the Impossible Burger with a fun round-table guessing the fiber content of a 4oz patty. A beef patty has 0 grams of fiber. High-school son guessed 5.6 grams. Mr. Plastic Picker 2 grams. Middle-school daughter guessed 8 grams. I guessed 5 grams. As already stated, the Impossible Burger has 3 grams of fiber.
So the conclusion of the Plastic Picker family is that the Impossible Burger was acceptable alternative for a road trip. It was a good move for the environment if the other alterantive for a beef patty and has 3g of fiber. But we are now sad to realize how much sodium was in the other things that tempted us. Even though we were strong enough to stay away from all the soda and sugary juices and used our reusable water bottles for tap water, the sodium of the other sides ruined our day. We won’t be stopping by Burger King again. Maybe next time, we’ll just stop by the grocery store and buy fixings for a sandwhich. Thus ends our foray into Fast Food commentary. Too much sodium for our family but at least that meal had a smaller environmental impact than beef.