Slow Meat returns to Denver June 4 to 6, encouraging carnivores to contemplate where their main courses come from. A symposium of chefs, ranchers, and policy wonks, Slow Meat promotes environmental stewardship, seed-to-fork practices, and a transformation in how Americans think about meat (specifically, eat higher-quality local meat in smaller quantities). So we figured it was a good time to examine some of the city’s “local” burgers. Turns out that while many boast Colorado-raised meat, not-so-local accouterments create difficult-to-swallow carbon footprints. The Populist’s grass-fed beef burger has the smallest one, but even it sports some high-mileage veggies.
1. The Populist’s Colorado Grass-Fed Burger
Bun: Grateful Bread, 15.6 miles
Pickles: Made in-house, typically with cucumbers from California, approximately 1,000 miles
Lettuce: Flourish Farms, 2 miles
Beef: Colorful Ranch (Lasater Grasslands Beef), 105 miles
*We did not break down the Populist’s house-made rémoulade: It would have been nearly impossible to track the miles for ingredients such as aïoli, capers, and lemons.
TOTAL: 1,122.6 miles
2. Highland Tap & Burger’s Rocky Mountain
Caramelized onion bun: Breadworks, 27.5 miles
Arugula: Shamrock Foods, 1,000 miles*
Cheese: Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy, 127 miles
Tomato-mint relish: grow mint, tomato from Trinity Farms and Yarrow Farms, average 14.4 miles
Lamb: Mountain States Rosen, 55.5 miles
*For ingredients procured by national brands such as Shamrock where origin is unknown, we added 1,000 miles.
TOTAL: 1,224.4 miles
3. Old Major’s Pork Breakfast Burger
Kaiser roll: Grateful Bread Company, 14.3 miles
House-made pickles: cucumbers (Rocky Mountain Fresh), 10.2 miles
Bacon: Denver Bacon Company (Iowa, Kansas, or Nebraska), average 475 miles
Fried egg: JNP Ranch, 42.5 miles
American cheese: Sysco, 1,000 miles*
Duroc pork: McDonald Family Farm, 90 miles
*For ingredients procured by national brands such as Sysco where origin is unknown, we added 1,000 miles.
TOTAL: 1,632 miles
4. The Kitchen Next Door’s (Union Station) Koberstein Farms Dry-Aged Cheeseburger
Brioche bun: Izzio Artisan Bakery, 20.6 miles
Romaine: Taylor Farms, 1,239 miles
Red onion: Monroe Organic Farms, 52.7 miles
Tomato: Cure Organic Farm, 25.9 miles
Cheese: Wisconsin: 1,034 miles
Beef: Koberstein Farms: 184 miles
TOTAL: 2,556.2 miles
5. Park Burger’s Buffalo Park Burger
Bun: Grateful Bread Company, 14.2 miles
Pickles: Shamrock Foods, 1,000 miles*
Lettuce: Fresh Guys (California), 1,147 miles
Onion: Fresh Guys (Washington), 1,278 miles
Tomato: Fresh Guys (Mexico), 2,167 miles
Buffalo: Rock River Ranches (Wyoming, Kremmling, Stratton, Limon, Genoa), average 192.8 miles
*For ingredients procured by national brands such as Heinz and Shamrock where origin is unknown, we added 1,000 miles.
*We did not break down Park Burger’s house-made special sauce: It would have been nearly impossible to track the miles for the ingredients.
TOTAL: 5,799 miles