By Lily Yang
A project I’ve recently been working on with a fellow food science friend has us both perusing the depths of Youtube to uncover the latest and greatest of burger videos. Yup! You read that right, upwards of one hundred burger videos – regular grilled hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Epic Meal Time burgers, even ramen burgers – get their own visual, audio, and salivary screen time past our slightly numbed graduate student minds.
The thing that seems to set each and every burger video apart – or rather, clump them together – is the phrase, “the best” or “favorite” or something glorifying of that rendition. After about 15 such videos, the first thought that has continually crossed my mind has been, “Really? What sets you apart from the last video?” What gives you the right to assume (quite egotistically, one might add) your recipe is better than another’s recipe? Do you assume that because you have more subscribers, more comments, a higher “Like” to “Dislike” ratio that your burger extravaganza supersedes all others? (Okay, I digress; Google Analytics does a doozy with this one.) Additionally, if you’re going to claim that your recipe is the best, perhaps you should actually include a recipe. What’s even more fascinating is the extent at which everyone seems to think their specific burger methodology is the “correct” methodology for preserving flavor and enhancing taste; yet, these specific methods tend to be quite contradictory. For example: some videos will strongly suggest smashing down the burger – much like they view some restaurants to do it – whereas others will vehemently declare that anything so much as touching the burger will cause said wondrous meat to fail in magnificent proportions. It begs the question, who to believe? Would you rather watch the video of a restaurant dissecting a burger to its components, or a pro-kitchen chef who is more apt to add a humanizing touch?
Between gastronomy that one could practice at home and Guy Fieri dripping burger juice all over the counters of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, one thing I’ve learned is there is no end to the saliva my mouth seems to be able to produce. Now, with the addition of HD (high definition, for all you anti-acronym fellows), the drooling has only increased. The sizzling of the burger as it hits the grill, the juices as it oozes out, the delicious searing, and finally the imagined waft of meaty goodness is just too much for my fragile lab-warped mind to handle. All I want is a burger!
But wait! What’s the catch? Why are we even looking at these videos? Why must we continually subjugate ourselves to this tragic deliciousness? If these videos are any indication of how things are actually prepared, it is only a matter of time before we are all in for a trip to the hospital. None of these videos ever practice – or even hint at – food safety. In fact, the notion of the proper usage of thermometers, lack of cross contamination, or even the washing of one’s hands is either laughed at or completely ignored. Thus, the point of this is belied: if each video is the representation of “the best” then they ought to be more stringent in explaining to people the benefits or negatives of certain actions. Of course, it is easy enough for you or me to say. But how could we better reinforce the knowledge, nay teach the general public, more about what they can do to prevent the risk of contamination and illness. How does one defeat the invincibility fable?
While you help us think of ideas or solution, that you should leave in the comments below, I shall be throwing myself to the kitchen in hopes of making a delicious and ginormous chive-pork ramen burger topped with kimchi, a sunny-side up egg.
How do you think we can improve food safety communication online?
Photo credit http://fbworld.com/2011/05/23/the-boom-in-premium-burgers/