James Beard Foundation's Blended Burger Project

Betsey Geier

How do you make a burger more sustainable, nutritious and better? Blend it with mushrooms, of course.

The Blended Burger Project™ is a movement that strives to make burgers better by blending ground meat, or any other protein, with chopped mushrooms.

Tuesday, I got to try a few blended burgers by local Charleston chefs.

First, Short Grain owner and chef Shuai Wang created a Hambagu Katsu burger. Served on homemade milk bread, this fried burger was my favorite of the day.

Then, we had Wagyu Smoked Mushroom Slider (Culinary Director Peden Ricker) and a Smash Burger (Parcel 32 Executive Chef).  These three sliders demonstrated the richness and creaminess of adding mushrooms to ground meat. 

Why mushrooms? Mushrooms are not only delicious and nutritious but also sustainable. It only takes 1.7-2.2 gallons of water to produce one pound of mushrooms (source). It takes 0.8-0.9 kilowatt hours per pound of mushrooms produced and 0.6-0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalents per pound of mushrooms produced (source).

As the meat production industry continues to industrialize, the concentration of livestock increases the environmental burden. According to the Livestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative, Livestock production accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (source).

Blended burgers are also healthier because it cuts down on sodium and fat. Blending with mushrooms just makes sense.

“As mushrooms top trend lists this year, we are so impressed by the creative mushroom + meat blended burgers that are being added to menus across the country,” said James Beard Foundation vice president Kris Moon.

In this fourth year of the Blended Burger Project™, participants will create a burger by blending mushrooms with meat using a 25/75 percent ratio. Customers will then get to vote on their favorite blended burger online. New this year, a panel of food experts will determine five winners from the top 20 entries with the most online votes.

This contest will be running from Memorial Day through July 31.

Here’s how you can take part:

  • Visit a participating restaurant here
  • Vote for your favorite burger here
  • Cast your vote for a chance to win an expense paid trip for two to the 2018 Blended Burger Project™ celebration event this fall

Also, you can make blended burgers at home. Just add ground mushrooms to your burger patties and grill.