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How Local Is Your Burger?

In honor of Slow Meat's return to Denver this month, we examine five local burgers.

June 2015

—Courtesy of Amanda Croy

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