Learning about the Global Environment
by Eating Hamburgers!

Our mouth is connected to the world

Living in Japan, we eat various kinds of food every day - fruits, vegetables, shushi, soba, meat, fish - and it helps us to become strong and provide fuel for our daily life.

But our link to food has usually been only what we see on our plate, and very rarely do we consider that a mere bite is deeply connected with the global environmental issues.

Let us take a hamburger as an example, to explore the relationship between our everyday food and global environmental issues.

Self-sufficiency and food

  • Food self-sufficiency is the ratio of food that is produced domestically (to feed people in the country).
  • Food self-sufficiency of Japan was 52% (in 1982) and this reduced to 42% (in 1995). The remaining 52% of food that we eat is imported from overseas!
  • The total amount of food (excluding vegetables and fruits) generated in the world was 2.6 billion tons
  • The total amount of food (excluding vegetables and fruits) consumed in Japan in a year is about 120 million tons (in 1994). This means that Japan is consuming 4.6% of food generated all over the world with the population accounting only for 2% in the world population.

A beef hamburger and Fried Potatos


  • 61% of the beef consumed in Japan is imported.
  • Major exporters to Japan are the U.S. and Australia, accounting for more than 95%.

The Hamburger connection

  • According to the Rainforest Action Network, an environment protection organization based in San Francisco, vast rainforests in the Latin American Region have been lost since they have extended beef stock farms by destroying forests.
  • The U.S. hamburger industry has sought cheaper beef produced in the Lain America Region. The Rainforest Action Network also says that approximately 5 square meter forest is lost for every one hamburger is eaten.

Fried Potato (in Japan)

  • Potatoes sold at the fast food restaurants are mostly imported as frozen potatoes.
  • 85% of all frozen potatoes used in Japan is imported, with approximately 90% coming from the U.S.
  • Genetically modified frozen potatoes are permitted to be imported to Japan as well.

Hence to produce a typical hamburger,
we always need to be aware of -

How much water is really used to produce food? For growing, for preparing, for transporting, and for consuming food ?

If food is transported for longer distances, then we need more energy to preserve food.

How is food transported? By air, by sea, and by land ?

A lot of food is wasted in its preparation and consumption.

To produce meat (say beef) we need more food, more water, and more preparation!

A hamburger costs less than Yen 200, but what is the real cost, if we include all the preparation process??

To maintain the 'freshness' of food, many chemicals are used both directly and indirectly!

This is your space: Add your thoughts here!

Always think of your impact on the environment!!

Not just local, but also far far away from your home!

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