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Environmental Virtue on a Bun: Are You Buying?

Environmental Virtue on a Bun: Are You Buying?

Philadelphia Inquirer

And there is the matter of the taste of the burger itself, the leaner (15 percent fat) patties, at $3.59 apiece, are decidedly drier and blander than their fattier, corned-up brethren, rescued by their garnishes – a long list of gratis toppings (ketchup, leaf lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, caramelized onions, Elevation sauce, mayo, balsamic mustard, hot-pepper relish).

This can be viewed, in a certain light, as a badge of honor: Elevation Burger isn’t crowing about the best-tasting burger, it’s selling the most environmentally responsible burger.

A year ago, a small chain called Goodburger laid loose claim to that mantle, offering “certified, premium Hereford Beef,” “naturally and humanely raised,” “from small, family-run farms,” “in the USA.”

You can visit its storefront if you wish.

But it’s shuttered; sunk, it appears, by high rent, tough competitors (Five Guys is just down the block), and – just maybe – the urge of better-burger eaters to trade up in these lean but still-hungry times.

Banking on that mood, Jose Garces’ intimate Village Whiskey set sail last week: It is serving incomparably juicy, loose-packed half-pounders ($9) on buttery, toasted buns; and indulgent, bulked-up versions laden with foie gras (at $24 a burger).

They’re not exactly grass-fed ground beef: The steers eat grass and hay to start, then a high-roughage barley diet. The beef comes from an organic farm based on the coast of Maine. But the burgers are larded with more than 20 percent fat – and, of course, sometimes fattened duck live – proving that, even in the greenest of times, you can never underestimate the appeal of compromised virtue.

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