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The American Meal

The American Meal

The hamburger has become one of the main dishes in the western world, specifically in the United States. Although it is made with various ingredients, meat (chicken, pork, beef, mutton or goat meat) is the main component of the product. For a person to have a meal of hamburger it is necessary to find it ready-made at a local food source such as MacDonald’s or from a store such as at the shelves of Wal-Mart. Alternatively, one may decide to make a hamburger at home. In this case, a person will be required to obtain fresh meat from a local store or butcher’s shop. Meat is one of the most controversial sources of food in the US, especially in regards to the impact its production has on the environment. For instance, beef animals are reared in large farms, especially in the south, southwest and some states in central and western parts of the US. In addition, beef is imported from South American nations such as Argentina. Studies have shown that animal production in large scale is an important contributor of methane gas in the environment (Cooper, 2007). In fact, it has been shown that feeding animals with fresh or wet fodder are likely to produce a substantial amount of methane to the environment. Secondly, ranching and dry land grazing contributes to reduction of forest and vegetation cover and interference with natural water catchment areas. It is likely that the meat obtained from a local store or butcher’s shop transported from a farm in the US or South America. Consequently, the production of the meat product must have been through one of the existing methods. For example, ranching, close paddock grazing, dry land grazing or indoor grazing are the most common method of meat production in the US. On the other hand, most Argentinean beef farms are operated as large ranches due to the presence of adequate land for grazing. Each of these methods has some substantial impact on the environment (Roosevelt, 2006).

To obtain the meat product, animals must have been transported from the farms to the meat production factories, where a number of processes are involved prior to selling the ready product. For instance, the animals were killed before skinning. Then, they must have been processed into respective products such as steaks, cuts, sub primal cuts and roasts.

Lettuce is mainly obtained from farms in California. In fact, more than 90% of the lettuce products consumed in the US come from California. This means that most of the products available at local green grocers and stores are obtained from some farms located in the state of California. Cold frames and greenhouses are the main methods of farming used in the production of lettuce in many areas. In fact, most Californian farms use greenhouses to produce lettuce. The methods have some significant impacts on the environment. For instance, commercial production of lettuce involves extensive use of fertilizers and a number of chemicals used to control pests and microorganisms. All these chemicals cause soil, air and water degradation. Moreover, lettuce farms have caused loss of natural vegetative cover, which has an impact of causing the extinction of certain plants and animals.

Lettuce production is a laborious process that involves large-scale cultivation in farms. After cultivation and harvesting, lettuce leaves are sometimes separated from the other parts of the body, to obtain leaf, head and romaine. These are the most common forms of lettuce sold in local green groceries in the US. The products are washed and packed before transportation. Due to its perishable nature, lettuce must be stored and transported under cold conditions of about 40C.

In the US, a number of states are home to onion production. For instance, Texas, California, Georgia and New Mexico are the leading producers. However, most other regions have also some substantial rate of onion production per year. In addition, the environmental differences between states allow some states to produce more onions during different times of the year.

Like lettuce, onions are produced under several farming methods, but open field farming and greenhouses are the most common methods in the US. In addition, the local grocers may have obtained onions from Mexico. For instance, some statistics indicate that over 50% of the onions produced in Mexico are sold in the American vegetable market. Onion production involves a process that requires the use of fertilizers and chemicals for the control of pests and microorganisms. These practices have some impact on soil, water and air. In addition, they lead to elimination of some plants and animals.
After three months of growth, onions are harvested through cutting the bulbs or uprooting the entire plant. The harvesters may clip the tops and roots before placing the product in burlap sacks. Onions are less perishable than other vegetable, which allows them to last for some few days or weeks in warehouses. However, the warehouses must have adequate air supply and be maintained at low temperatures. They must be “cured”, washed and peeled for special packaging before being transported for retailing.
The tomato plant is grown for the edible fruit that is eaten as raw or cooked. In the US, more than 90% of the tomato products sold locally is growth in California. In addition, California accounts for about 34% of the total world production. In fact, America does not import tomatoes from other countries, although some green grocers and stores obtain foreign products for meeting the local and individual customer demands.

Tomatoes are produced in greenhouses or outdoor fields. They are growth in masses and in large rows covering several hectares in California and Florida. However, greenhouse method is the most common farming technique employed in the US. Tomato production requires intensive labour that includes chemical or manual weeding, pests and microorganism control and adequate supply of water. Therefore, it has an impact on water, soil, air, animals, other plants and people (Cosier, 2007). In addition, these chemicals may have an impact on consumers, especially when traces of chemicals are left in the product (Macpherson, 2007). The fruit is the important and the only edible part of the tomato plant. Fruit picking is primarily manual. Some fruits are picked when ripe while other are picked before they ripen, depending on the need. For the purpose of hamburger meal, ripe potatoes are preferred to the unripe fruits. After picking, the plant is washed and stored temporarily in cold rooms before transpiration.

French fries are made from potatoes. Therefore, it is worth discussing the potatoes production process. In the US, only 15 states are involved in the production of potatoes due to environmental conditions. Idaho, Oregon and Washington are the major potato producers in the US. America also imports the product from South America, especially from countries like Peru. Potato farming is mainly done in open fields. The method involves intensive use of machines in all stages of plant growth. For instance, shallow trenches are dug on the cultivated field before using another machine to place tubers one foot apart from each other on every trench. Application of fertilizers and other chemicals must be done to enhance production. Therefore, the production process has some significant impacts on the environment.
After three months of growth, tubers are obtained by uprooting the plant. Several tubers are obtained from each plant. They are then washed and placed in dry sacks for transport.

Cooper, C. (2007). 100 miles and counting. Food In Canada, 67(3), 7.
Cosier, S. (2007). The 100-Mile Diet. The Environmental Magazine, 18(5), 42.
Macpherson, C. (2007). You are where you eat. Ascent Magazine, (33), 46.
Roosevelt, M. (2006). The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet. Time, 167(24), 78.

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