May, among other designations, was National Hamburger Month. This obscure, annual observance would have escaped my attention this year if it had not been for having a little time to browse through a local weekly newspaper's opinion page. There, shouting in bold print and occupying two columns, was an article entitled "We should ban the burger in May."
After reading several paragraphs of that article, it started to get this beef cattle producer's dander up. Although the author's approach to the article was somewhat light-hearted, he nonetheless implied that hamburgers and their sales constituted the evil root of everything from the childhood obesity epidemic to the escalation of greenhouse gas emissions across the planet.
His repeated calls for government intervention and legislation to curb hamburger consumption were ridiculous in my opinion. I could only speculate as to the motivation for such comments.
Whatever his "beef" was with hamburgers, it necessitated my response.
Fortunately, I believe that those who subscribe to this publication are folks that take responsibility for their own actions.
With that said, let's celebrate the more positive aspects of living in a country where we have the freedom to choose what we would like to have for our next meal.
Hamburgers are truly a favorite American meal choice. It is estimated that over 14 billion, (yes, "B" as in "billion") are eaten each year in the U.S.A. That figures out to be around 45 burgers consumed each year by every man, woman and child in the country, based on the previous census.
Beef burgers are a nutrient-dense food. A standard 3 ounce beef burger can provide 42 percent of the daily recommendation for protein, 40 percent of the B-12, 35 percent of zinc, 26 percent of the selenium and 13 percent of iron needed daily for these essential nutrients and minerals.
A burger of this size provides roughly 10 percent of the daily calorie recommendations for adults.
Common sense should tell us that succumbing to the temptation to super-size an order of French-fried potatoes and a jumbo high sugar content soft drink, along with an ice-cold chocolate malt or milk shake for dessert, will sky rocket the calorie content of what started out as a modest meal.
As for as an opposing point of view to the statements of that earlier mentioned columnist, instead of banning hamburgers, he might consider promoting legislation only allowing higher calorie content super-sized burger meals to be served to those working outdoors and involved in no less than four hours of vigorous physical activity before their next meal. Everyone else could only buy the portion controlled, low-calorie version of a hamburger. He sounds like a guy who might promote legislation to eliminate the choice of mayonnaise over mustard or being able to request both. If that were to become reality, the next step might require restaurant patrons to use a magnetic swipe card system to keep citizens who are overweight from purchasing meals that contain too many calories.
Unfortunately, I fear that such a permitting system allowed for the purchase a jumbo burger with all the super-sized extras may not be enough incentive to get the vast majority of the younger generation out of their air-conditioned room with the video games on the wide screen TV and away from the refrigerator loaded with junk food and high-calorie soft drinks. That might actually require a parental mandate for those youngsters to do some meaningful work or exercise. But this is the land of the free. That decision is a personal one, NOT one to be regulated by an increasingly intrusive big government.
Harvey Buehring is the former Agricultural Extension Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at (361) 767-5223.