In a strange twist on the "veggie burger" concept, University of Hawaii researchers have concluded that more than 90% of a typical fast food hamburger originally comes from corn. Not corn ground up and pressed into a patty, but corn eaten by cattle and metabolized to muscle, then eventually processed to hamburger.
Of concern is that this work highlights the degree to which the American cattle industry depends on corn as feed. Corn is widely viewed as an environmentally "costly" crop, requiring lots of fertilizer, soil-damaging cultivation, and gas-burning heavy machinery. Grass-fed beef is viewed as not only friendlier to the environment, but also healthier. The tradeoff is that grass-fed cattle require much more land for grazing and grow more slowly. For a $0.99 hamburger, grass-fed beef just isn't a reality.