By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net
Ag Twitter — the term given to the larger agricultural community on the popular social media app — practically melted down Tuesday after fast food brand Burger King announced that they were changing their “#CowMenu” to reduce their methane emissions.
cow farts & burps are no laughing matter. they release methane, contributing to climate change. that’s why we’re working to change our cows’ diet by adding lemongrass to reduce their emissions by approximately 33%. learn about our ongoing study: https://t.co/kPCXpjfbGL #CowsMenu pic.twitter.com/DnmF8gVVL0
— Burger King (@BurgerKing) July 14, 2020
Burger King included a (rather strange) video features Mason Ramsey, the yodeling boy, singing about none other than bovine flatulence. The twittersphere leaped to life blasting the burger joint for its video and it’s stance.
Much of today’s society is developing into a cancel culture which refers to boycotting public figures or companies after they do something controversial. Think of it as a form of group shaming.
You could say that cancel culture has made its way to Ag Twitter. People are irate and beating the beef advocacy argument on the virtual table.
Burger King’s goal is to switch their supplier’s animal’s diets to Lemongrass. The research cited on Burger King’s Sustainability website claims they can reduce methane emissions by up to 33%. My first question is on feed efficiency. The study was completed by putting cattle in respiration chambers to measure the methane levels that they release into the atmosphere So, the argument can be made that per “gaseous exchange” the methane emission decreases. My question is: if it means more days on feed, did we really solve anything?
This leaves the inevitable question of where do Ohio producers sign up to grow lemongrass? Well, I’m not so sure that’s going to work either. I did some Internet research about lemongrass. The plant is a tropical plant that prefers plenty of heat and sunshine. For reference, the lemongrass used in the study was grown in Mexico. There are some varieties grown in California, according to the study’s website. I do wonder if there is a way to use it as a cover crop? Someone significantly smarter than I will have to take that up. Although, I’m not sure who has this kind of time.
In the spirit of fairness, I’m not justifying either side. Do I think BK’s plan is going to work? Maybe, maybe not. However, while they do have the Impossible Whopper on their menu, they aren’t pushing for plant based meats in this case. They’re still buying beef. So I’m not sure that beef producers canceling Burger King is the way to go either. I understand a corn grower’s perspective of potentially losing that demand. But, beef? No matter how you slice this one, they’re still buying beef.
To be completely transparent, I never did care much for Burger King (aside from the paper crown I used to proudly wear when I was a little tike. I’m sure those don’t exist now in the age of coronavirus.) Lemongrass or no lemongrass, this one was the best tweet on my timeline.
You know who has never judged a cow for being flatulent?
— Brianna Buseman (@BriannaBuseman) July 14, 2020
At the end of the day, we probably have bigger issues than cow fart burgers. Nevertheless, if you know of someone willing to try growing or feeding lemongrass to address the issue, let us know and we’ll be out for an interview.