The 26-Ingredient Burger

Schools around the country are being closely scrutinized with the recent revelation that "pink slime" was destined to be used in hamburger patties served in public schools. NPR's food blog, The Salt, investigated a similarly controversial discovery: the 26-ingredient burger.


  1. When making a fresh-from-the-butcher hamburger at home, the ingredients are simple: ground beef and seasoning to taste. Some at-home chefs will get creative with their burgers and add in an egg for binding, some cheese for gooeyness, and maybe some crumbled bacon for pure deliciousness. But chances are, you won't find the typical home kitchen stocked with "pink slime" or the over 20 extra ingredients being added to the pre-packaged, frozen burgers being served to kids at school.
  2. To be fair, many of our own freezers and pantries are lined with the same ingredients used in the 26-ingredient burger, we just don't see them laid out and defined like NPR's story has done.
  3. It's not just parents wanting to change what is served at schools; many school officials and activists around the country are working together with the USDA to put "real food" back on kids' cafeteria trays. 
  4. "What I believe is that we're going back," says Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado. "If we want to be healthy and want our kids to be healthy, we've got to find our kitchens again." She has actually brought scratch cooking back to her schools. And a lot of cities are inviting chefs into cafeterias and classrooms through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Chefs Move to Schools program, which encourages students to learn more about food and cooking. More than 3,300 schools and 3,400 chefs have joined the program, according to the USDA's Hans Bilger. The Culinary Trust, one of the partners in the project, is offering grants to support the initiative.
  5. Here at Curvy Girl Guide, we've previously discussed school lunches and what kids are eating from around the country. It's probably not what you'd serve at home, so why is it OK to serve to kids at school. 
  6. The newfound awareness of what is being served at schools and what ingredients are used to make our processed foods is eye-opening to many people. Even for those of us who have and will continue to eat and feed our kids processed foods, we are all becoming more aware of what exactly those additives are and what they are doing in our foods.

    Now that you've seen all of what goes into a typical pre-packaged, processed burger (and many other grocery store foods), will this change how you think about the food you're eating?