How much oil in a Quarter Pounder?

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How Many Ounces of Oil in a Quarter Pounder?

26 ounces is the astounding answer to how many ounces of oil are required to produce a quarter pounder. This one hamburger accounts for 13 pounds of CO2 emissions which is more than that emitted by burning 7 pounds of coal in a power plant or driving your car 13 miles!

Michael Pollan explains that in the 1950’s it took our agricultural system one calorie of oil (calorie is a measurement of energy) to produce one calorie of food. Today it takes TEN calories of oil to produce one calorie of food. As Pollan explains, our agricultural system and its fast food customers are now “eating oil, emitting green house gases.”

Here is the economics that needs to be overcome. That quarter pounder is really cheaper than consuming the same amount of calories from non-red meat sources of calories. That is why food stamps recipients are on average heavier than those not on food stamps. If you only have a few dollars a day to spend on food you will buy the food that offers the most calories. Here’s the externality costs:
Increases in individual obesity
Increased national health care costs
Unsustainable levels of emissions.

One example of the magnitude of these hidden costs is a CDC on the $2 trillion we spend annually on health care, TWO-THIRDS (approximately $1.3 trillion) is spent addressing PREVENTABLE chronic diseases tied to our smoking, alcohol and DIET.

Pollan’s suggested public solutions are 1)government funding of agriculture not corn, 2)increased focuse upon local agriculture serving local markets and 3)awareness/behavioral change by our own culture. For example, today we subsidize farmers NOT to grow alternative crops to corn. Pollan’s alternative is government incentives promoting the number of days a field is “green” so farmers are producing a diversity of crops that are consuming more CO2.

Pollan ended his presentation with this sobering question: Can we successfully change from our agricultural addiction to oil? The answer is unclear with 6+ billion people now consuming oil rather than healthy food.

About Bill Roth

Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017, author of The Secret Green Sauce and a nationally-followed contributor to Entrepreneur.com, Triple Pundit, The Green Economy Post and Media Post on best business practices emerging from the smart, healthy and green global economy. He coaches entrepreneurs, business and community leaders on how to grow revenues, profits and jobs by going smart and green.
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