The University has taken another step towards sustainability by offering a new “Princeton Crafted Burger,” which was released during the beginning of the academic year.
This burger is a blend of local mushrooms and grass-fed beef. It is currently being served in all dining halls, Frist Campus Center, Princeton Concessions, and other venues operated by Campus Dining as the only option for beef burgers.
According to Chris Lentz, University Associate Director of Marketing and Community Engagement, this burger is healthier and more sustainable than the all-beef burgers previously served by the University.
“We’re always looking for ways to support our wellness and sustainability commitments,” said Lentz. “This burger is nice because that blend between beef and mushrooms helps us to lower our carbon impact.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it takes 1,840 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. In comparison, it takes only 1.8 gallons of water to produce one pound of mushrooms, according to Lentz.
Along with the mushrooms, the use of grass-fed beef also aids in sustainability. According to Lentz, the production of grass-fed beef may help to naturally restore topsoil.
Lentz also described some of the other benefits of the beef used in the burger.
“Grass-fed beef is considered to be the healthier choice because it is lower in saturated fats and higher in antioxidants,” he said. He added that the beef also conforms to halal standards.
The use of mushrooms as a substitute for meat brings up the question of taste.
“One of the things important to us was that we did not sacrifice taste,” Lentz explained. He said that in his personal experience, most students have not noticed a difference.
Eileen Chan, a dining hall worker, said, “To me it tastes good, but some people might not like it because some people do not like mushrooms.”
When asked if there was a difference in taste between an all-beef burger and the crafted burger, Chan said that the difference was mostly in texture and that the mushrooms made the burger a bit blander, saying,“it tastes a bit more like salt.”
Others have not noticed a difference in the burgers.
“I didn’t know they changed it,” said Josue Chirinos ‘20. He said the only thing he noticed is that the burger is a little bit thicker this year than last year. He added that he liked the new burger more.
“The flavor is really good, I didn’t know that it had mushrooms in it,” said Jaren McKinnie ’21.
He added that it is one of the best burgers he had ever eaten.
“It tastes really high quality and is better than some of the burgers from restaurants back home,” McKinnie said.
When asked about the lack of options featuring red meat, Chan said, “I think overall, reducing meat consumption is good for the environment. I’m slowly trying to get off red meat, so for me this is a good thing.” However, she noted that some students might prefer to have the option of red meat being available to them.
Others were less concerned.
“I doubt any of the students will notice a difference,” Chirinos said. There has also been a positive response to the sustainability aspect of the burger.
“It’s really nice to see that the student body cares about the environment,” Chan said. “I think this is a good change.”
“I’m proud to be part of a university that is taking a step towards sustainability,” said McKinnie. Since he also enjoys the taste of the burger, he adds that the new crafted burger is the best of both worlds.