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Thursday, April 26, 2012


The basic burger and milkshake. Paper cups and lots of plastic. Although the bottled ketchup is organic.
I've been trying to wrap my head around the experience of dining at Jerry Built Burgers (JBB). Like many new places, JBB attempts to appeal to the conscience of the diner well before the taste buds. A read through of the website describes a bit of the dining philosophy: when possible, local when available and always fresh. Committed to sustainability, we source seasonal ingredients from local and regional farmers during each harvest.

Sustainability. What does that mean? In its strictest sense, it means the ability to endure. And sustainable dining, as a practice, promotes stewardship of the environment so that we, as a species, can endure. Very often, it speaks to seasonal harvesting, and maximizing our benefits from farming while minimizing waste. What, exactly, does JBB do in its commitment to sustainability? 

Places like Dartmouth promote sustainable dining by resorting to compostable and no-waste food containers, and modifying menus to adjust to the availability of produce as they change with the seasons. JBB freely and frequently uses lots of disposable and noncompostable material in their food containers (did you see the newfangled dippy ketchup containers? And the unnecessary plastic collar around the milkshake glass?), and a unchanging menu that is the epitome of anti-seasonality. Unless lots of transport is involved, in which case makes it very much anti-local.

How does the food taste, though? The burger itself was acceptable, not terrible but not terrific. And the metallic taste of canned chocolate syrup married with a gritty pre-scooped and refrozen ice cream made for a less than terrific milkshake. But given the emphasis of the advertising, I don't think it's the food quality that is the main focus anyway. And on the latter count, it fails the logic. 

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