Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger...

A cheeseburger seems simple enough. Nowadays they're almost an omnipresent food. Well, Waldo Jaquith, a blogger from Virginia, set out to try to make one completely from scratch only to find out that it's entirely impractical.

Now, when I think of something as "scratch made," the thought of apple pies or mashed potatoes come to mind. However, I've never grown potatoes and my grandmother certainly never had an apple orchard in her 12th floor apartment in Cleveland nor a flour mill in her storage locker. It is this level of "from scratch," that Jaquith wanted to pursue for the cheeseburger.

It should be noted that this type of experiment or example isn't particularly groundbreaking as it has been used with other products, perhaps most notably the pencil as Professor Zak mentioned in the early part of our class. What was relevant for myself (and Mark, given our project), was the idea of the number of suppliers needed to make a cheeseburger possible. Additionally Jaquith asserts that modern technology has played a large role as well, since refrigeration, modern storage methods, and shipping allows for the cheeseburger to be available year round and effectively worldwide.

There is a clear distinction with the idea Jaquith puts forth and the initial reaction most people (i.e. commenters) have to his post. That is, he is not saying the cheeseburger would have been impossible before relatively recently rather, as the title of his piece clearly says, it would have been impractical. Similarly, he came to find out that it is completely impractical for a single person to attempt to make a cheeseburger "from scratch."

Again, this idea isn't earth-shattering, but I think it is something we all take for granted in our day-to-day routines. We kind of loose sight of how many hands are involved in everything we use and consume. I have to say that after this class I will never look at food, electronics, cars, chairs, or even Waffle Houses the same.

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