View Full Version : Berry burgers -- next school lunch fad?

08-03-2003, 10:54 PM
Berry burgers -- next school lunch fad? (http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/diet.fitness/08/03/berry.burgers.ap/)

Beth Bernier, a Food Science and Human Nutrition graduate student at the University of Maine, works with making a wild blueberry concentrate that can be added to ground beef.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It seems as weird as green and purple ketchup, and sounds like a culinary invention by a college student who mixed leftovers from the refrigerator. But scientists who developed the blueberry burger hope that it will one day be a common sight in school cafeterias, supermarkets and restaurants.

The unlikely marriage of blueberries with the hamburger is the latest fruit-and-meat combination created by food researchers.

Cherries and prunes also have been blended into hamburger, ground turkey and chicken to help soften dry meat.

Al Bushway, a food scientist at the University of Maine, said his laboratory has two purposes in stirring blueberry puree or blueberry powder into beef, chicken and turkey patties: boosting the nutritional value of the classic burger and helping farmers improve their berry sales.

Berries boost nutritional value
Blueberries add cancer-fighting antioxidants to the patties and may slightly reduce the fat content of burgers. They also help make burgers that are made from drier, leaner ground beef, chicken or turkey into a juicier product.

One would think the berries would turn meat an odd, purplish blue.

"With the beef, it's very difficult to really tell by looking at it," said Bushway. "When you put it in ground turkey, you do get a different color. One certainly would notice."

The project is backed by $30,000 from the Wild Blueberry Association in Maine. Bushway makes the burgers with green, red and blue blueberries that were rejected for processing because they were not ripe enough or were too ripe.

Bushway hopes the blueberry burgers will be a big hit with children who participate in taste tests for the federal school lunch program, and may even become the latest food fad.

The Agriculture Department has encouraged researchers to blend fruit with ground meat to make juicier, more healthful burgers to serve to the 27 million children in the lunch program.

"The USDA buys lean meat, but that meat tends to be not as juicy or flavorful as a hamburger that has a higher fat content," said George Chartier, a spokesman for the department's Agriculture Marketing Service. "If we can improve that with fruit, then all the better."

Fruit farmers vying for share of new market
Increasing interest in making fruit-filled burgers has various grower and industry groups competing for a share of the market. The dried plum industry hopes prune burgers will become the burger of choice rather than blueberry and cherry burgers.

"One of the benefits of dried plums is it tends to have a non-characterizing flavor to it, whereas blueberries and cherries would have a definite flavor that you'd pick up," said Jim Degen, a consultant for the California Dried Plum Board. "The products that use dried plums as an ingredient -- it tends to round out flavors that are already in the product."

Like blueberries, prunes offer their own health benefits. They can cut the fat in burgers by 40 percent if the burger is made of 4 percent prune puree with a bit of soy. Prunes also contain antioxidants. Because prunes are such a small part of burgers made with them, there is little of the laxative effect for which prunes are known.

More than 5 million pounds of prune burgers are produced each year. Degen said some are served to students in the schools in Denver, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Hillsborough County, Florida.

The prune burger manufacturers and would-be blueberry burger makers could see tough competition from cherry burgers. They are served in 17 schools and are growing in popularity. The manufacturer and inventor, Ray Pleva's Products Inc., said cherry-meat products will be served in 20 schools this year.

The company is producing 2 million pounds annually.

Passing the taste test
"You don't see the cherry and you don't taste the cherry," said owner Ray Pleva, of Cedar, Michigan. "We've had guys that say, 'I don't want no burger with cherry in it,' but then they buy it, they grill it, and they say, 'Wow that was great."'

Among the other meat products that Pleva's makes with cherries are pecan pork sausage, Italian brats, meatballs, lamb chops, and the Plevalean -- a lean cherry burger.

The appeal of fruit-meat burgers is debatable. While 8-year-old Amanda Hunter of Macomb, Illinois, said she would love to taste a blueberry burger, her 11-year-old sister, Jessica, wrinkled her nose in distaste.

"I don't think meat and blueberries would taste very good," said Jessica. "I like my hamburger with ketchup."

Both girls turned up their nose at the idea of a prune burger. But one with cherries? Yeah, they would try that.

08-04-2003, 11:56 AM
fruit and dead animals?
a food combo nightmare!

08-04-2003, 12:42 PM
Kids don't like meat anymore so they have to make it blueberry flavor so they will eat it. Most probably don't even know it comes from animals.

I think the article is quite frightening, as if piranha berries weren't enough we will soon have blueberry flavored meat.

Ugh! :furious:

08-04-2003, 03:52 PM
That's kinda scary! :umm:

08-06-2003, 02:49 PM
What a way to ruin perfectly good fruit!

08-06-2003, 04:35 PM
Originally posted by misanthropy
What a way to ruin perfectly good fruit!

i agree-- Nasty!!:brood: :sick: :sick:

08-07-2003, 04:02 PM
Darn! I thought they were going to talk about hamburger-type patties made from berries... and no meat. Like dessert burgers. Oh well.

08-07-2003, 07:45 PM
Like dessert burgers.

What a great idea!! Maybe we could make it like a nut burger patty with berries in it. OK, everyone, get cracking! :chef: