The Story of a Burger
The quarter-pound of meat comes from Mack Brook Farm, a local Angus producer here in Washington County. I bought the pound at Gardenworks, a local farmyard grocer and berry operation. It cost eight dollars, and was the most expensive part of the meal. I don't raise cows (though my heart does flirt with the idea of miniature highlanders...) and so I bought the pound.
The bread was made from cheap flour bought at Stanndard Farm Stand. They didn't used to carry flour in little pound-to-three-pound sacks but now they do because I asked them to. They obliged and the whole sack of three pounds cost me around two dollars. It is not organic. It is not fancy. It's just white flour. I made the dough with well water, a pinch of salt, some yeast from a packet and baked the five buns in a buttered skillet. Before setting them in the oven I brushed them with some local honey and butter melted together in a pan. They are, literally, honey buns.
The lettuce was planted in my garden, raised up and harvested last night. It was crisp and lovely. It was free. Well, not really. I bought a six pack of started lettuce back in early May for two bucks and this shady stuff hasn't bolted yet. It's probably five cents worth of lettuce? Perhaps two or three cents?
The slice of cheese came from the deli at Stanndard Farm. It was $2.60 cents for half a pound. I'm sure it is not local or organic, but it is from Amish country since the folks at Stannard ship up all their deli meats, jams, sodas, and such from the Lancaster area for the stand. I am not too hung up on the cheese, or the flour, because I was able to buy it from a local farm stand who has children to raise, put through college, and happens to run a shop a literal horse-cart ride away from Cold Antler.
This here burger is pretty darn local. At least it is an east-coast burger. But that isn't as important to me as the price. This burger cost me about $2.73. Most of that came from the price of the meat. The rest was divided by the price of the lettuce, flour, egg, cheese, honey, and squirt from a bottle of Heinz. That is not a bad price for a meal so rich, tasty, and filling.
What this burger did take - was time. It took time to plant the heads of lettuce. It took about fifteen minutes to mix, knead, and brush the rolls. It took five minutes to cook the meat. By historical standards this is still fast food—peasant food really, just a bit of meat and bread—but by modern standards this was not at all fast food. I did not pull up to a drive thru, I knew the cows by zip code and reputation, baked the buns, it cost more than 99 cents, etc.
The question I pose is this: is this burger worth the time and effort to most people? I ask this because I know some of you will like this story of a burger and get you excited to post your own Burger Stories on Facebook and Reddit. Others will balk at this and think I am preaching, being elitist, or unrealistic. What I'm more interested in is WHY people feel one way or the other? Does it come down to money? Time? Access to such food? Would this burger cost double in NY City to make in your apartment? Would it cost triple at your local cafe? All of a sudden the story of a burger becomes the social commentary of a burger, the politics of a burger, or the guild of the burger. I added that last one because if you think I eat totally local and homemade all the time, I don't. Last night I did but some nights I am so tired and beat I don't eat at all, or I just run into town for something quick.
My intention was just to share the story of one meal and see where it goes. But also to share it tasted really good. Like, ridiculously good. And I'm curious to know if Burger Stories are something you enjoy, roll your eyes over, or would just rather have the recipe for the bun and patties?