The journey of your hamburger [may] begin in the amazon.
More specifically, it likely begins in the amazon in Brazil, home to about 60% of the tropical rainforest. Only – as you’re likely aware – that rainforest is quickly disappearing. And it’s a little bit your fault.
Why? Because in addition to being home to 60% of the amazon rainforest, Brazil is also the world’s largest exporter of beef. And those two things aren’t highly compatible. In order to make more room for cattle ranching, the amazon is being cut down. In fact, a 2009 study found that 4/5 of deforestation in the amazon could be linked to cattle ranching. And the vast majority of the beef being produced in Brazil goes to the U.S. The United States buys 200 million pounds of beef from Brazil and other Central American nations every year, and demand is on the rise – which means more and more of the amazon will have to go.
If you’re not sure why you should care about deforestation, check out how it relates to climate change, human rights, and the environment.
So once the land has been cleared to make room for cattle, what’s next for your hamburger? Cows need food and water – a lot of it, actually. Every pound of beef produced requires about 35 pounds of topsoil, 2,500 gallons of water, and 12 pounds of grain. To put that in perspective, the amount of water used to produce 10 4oz. hamburgers is the same amount that a person uses to shower for a year.