In 2019, Burgerville declared a new vision: To make the Pacific Northwest the Healthiest Region on the Planet.
It’s a tall order. But we’ve been working toward it for decades by including sustainability in all of our operations. For us, it’s about progress, not perfection. This looks like:
- Sourcing 75 percent of ingredients from farmers and ranchers in the Northwest to reduce food miles traveled, limit carbon emissions, and invest in local economies — $20 million annually. This year our goal is to reach 80 percent local sourcing.
- Purchasing renewable energy credits that offset 100 percent of our restaurants’ energy use.
- Recycling waste fryer oil into biodiesel.
- Supporting the unsung heroes of Northwest agriculture, seed breeders, and teaching kids how to grow food and flowers through our Seedlings program.
Burgerville is also taking a stand for better beef. Why? It tastes better, it’s healthier for people and animals, and it supports local economies. All of our beef is local, hormone and antibiotic free, and comes from cattle started on grassy pastures via Country Natural Beef.
Now, we’re also serving two burgers made with 100 percent grass-fed, grass-finished beef – meaning the cows were roaming grassy pastures their entire lives – from Carman Ranch in northeast Oregon. The Carman Ranch beef is featured in both our No. 6 Burger and our Hopyard Cheddar Burger.
Why does it matter to eat beef from cows raised on grass? Because it helps conserve our Northwest’s working ranch lands and local economies, it restores soil health, and it protects water quality and quantity. Grass-fed beef production emits fewer greenhouse gases and even help store carbon in the soil, which shrinks our carbon footprint and helps us adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
But we’re not stopping there. We know that some people embrace a plant-based diet, so we’ve expanded our plant-based menu to include Coconut Bliss shakes, vegan breakfast items at our PDX Airport restaurant, and a new vegan (and gluten-free) ice cream sandwich next month.
The pandemic has changed our business quite a bit. One thing we miss most is not being able to visit schools to talk about what it means to be a 60-year-old restaurant business, still headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, on an ever-changing journey to connect conscious eaters to locally sourced, climate-friendly food. There is always a whip-smart grade schooler who takes the beef questions head on and asks, “If you really care about the climate, why aren’t you serving the Impossible Burger instead?”
Our answer is simple: We stand for the health of the Northwest, and for us that means serving food made with ingredients that support local economies, are tied to the land, and are raised to restore it. This work is not easy, but the Northwest is worth it. Our customers are worth it. Our earth is worth it.
Today on Earth Day, we invite all restaurants in the quick-service industry to join us in bringing a climate-friendly approach to fast food — one that improves the health of people and place.
We invite customers to get curious about better beef and try locally raised, grass-fed, grass-finished burgers from Burgerville, your grocery store or your farmer’s market. Or discover the joy of planting a garden this year.
We must stop thinking about climate change as someone else’s problem to fix and begin to do all we can as individuals, businesses and a region to sow the seeds of change.
Jill Taylor is CEO of Burgerville, a Vancouver-based chain that has 47 locations throughout the Northwest.