What does a hamburger really cost?

What is the true cost of meat?

Factory farmed meat is cheap, but there are hidden costs that go along with that industrial burger.

When you buy a fast food burger or purchase factory farmed meat from the store, you pay an outright cost – usually two to three dollars a pound – but that’s not the only cost associated with that food. Thanks to subsidies and lax regulation, there are a number of hidden costs that come with that factory meat, and they affect more than just the person doing the purchasing.

The Hidden Costs of Meat

Raising cows is not so hot for the environment. They contribute to greenhouse gas pollution that affect all of us as well as air and water pollution. You also have to consider meat’s health impacts and how that affects our society. Meat consumption is linked to a myriad of health concerns from high blood pressure and heart disease to obesity.

Feeding all of those cows is also terribly inefficient. Instead of growing grains and legumes to feed people, we’re growing this food for cows. It’s a waste of food, and it’s a waste of water. With so many states here in the U.S. dealing with crippling droughts, beef’s water footprint is more troublesome than ever.

In this video, the Center for Investigative Reporting attempts to calculate those hidden costs – and explains a few others – to give you an idea of the real impact of industrial meat.

Like she mentions in the video, the Farm Bill plays a big part in subsidizing and sheltering us from these hidden costs. It might keep the up front price of meat down, but we end up paying these hidden costs, whether we eat meat or not. If you want to see more on how they calculated the true cost of a hamburger, check out the Center for Investigative Reporting’s document that breaks it all down.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo via slice

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  1. You haven’t mentioned the hidden cost to our health from eating too many burgers. Non-homemade ones are usually high in saturated fat and high in sodium, neither of which are good for you, especially if you have high blood pressure…

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