Americans eat approximately 50 billion hamburgers every year. This figure is based on an average per capita intake of three burgers per week.
McDonald's alone reported that they sell an average of 75 hamburgers per second of a 24 hour day. As a result, hamburgers also account for 40 percent of the sandwiches sold in the United States.
The American obsession with hamburgers, which were brought to the U.S. by German immigrants in the early 1800s, is a cause for concern among ecologists.
One of the reasons for this concern is the amount of water required for beef production. To produce one pound of beef, 1,800 gallons of water are needed, in a large part for supplying grain as feed. Sourcing this feed for beef production is also extremely wasteful of space. The total amount of land used in the U.S. for growing crops to feed humans is eight times less than that used to feed cattle for beef.
Additional concerns surround the impact of beef production on greenhouse gases, with critics of the industry pointing out that in order to create each quarter-pounder burger, 6.5 pounds of greenhouse gases must be released into the atmosphere. These come largely from the nitrous oxide in the manure, which has been known to leak into rivers and cause further complications for wildlife.