Karen Hanrahan, the green mom blogger behind Best of Mother Earth, is a fiercely proud mom of two whose kids have flown the coop, leaving her with an empty nest. She has been described as an earthy, granola-crunching tree hugger who also is a health nut.
She's just fine with those labels. After all, she's been going green since before it was in fashion.
On her blog, Hanrahan gives great advice about healthy living, but oddly enough this crunchy earth-nut is probably most famous for her post about a McDonald's hamburger.
Here's the story. In 1996, Hanrahan bought a burger from McDonald's, but she didn't eat it. Instead, she kept it and used it as a prop for a class called Healthy Choices For Children. A colleague had told her a story about someone who saved a burger and a Twinkie that never molded. Hanrahan decided she had to see that for herself. So she bought a plain burger and set it on a plate in her cupboard. Later, she moved it to a plain sandwich box (not even Tupperware!) and put it in a drawer.
Over the years, the burger remained perfectly preserved (and Hanrahan has done nothing special to preserve it). Not one ounce of mold on the bun and not one sign of decay in the burger. It still looks exactly the same as it did the day she bought it. In 2008, Hanrahan wrote a post about her infamous McDonald's burger, including a picture of the burger that never molded or decayed — even after 12 years! She wrote, "McDonalds fills an empty space in your belly. It does nothing to nourish the cell, it is not a nutritious food. It is not a treat."
Thanks to the Internet, the post went viral, earning her mentions on blogs and news sites all around the world, as well as in magazines such as Men's Health and on TV shows such as World News with Diane Sawyer and the Today Show. So, Hanrahan added Burger Lady to her list of personal descriptors. Here's what the Burger Lady had to say about the rest of her lifetime of environmental advocacy.
MNN: Have you always been green or did you have a pivotal "aha" moment that made you more environmentally aware?
Karen Hanrahan: Many things led up to me questioning ingredients in mainstream cleaning and personal care products. I had lots of problems like allergic reactions with many of these items, but it wasn't until I was a mom that I took on greenness as part of my personal sensibilities.
Do you have a pet eco-issue? In other words, do you focus on any one green area, like energy conservation or organic gardening, more than others?
I say I am a green advocate because I don't have one particular focus but more of an all-around curiosity. I was a kid who recycled, a teen who rode her bike, a mom who nursed and used cloth diapers. Food became a big issue for me when my kids were little. I'd say if anything is my pet eco-issue, it's the slow food movement, scratch cooking and the alternative food market. Nowadays that fits right in with buying local and the growth of our farmers markets.
What environmental issue are you most concerned about?
This concern changes, as I learn things! Most recently I learned about fracking. It's coming to our county and I'm horrified. I am somewhat into things environmentally, but had no idea what fracking was. It makes me crazy to think MOST folks simply have no idea. This is when I feel most overwhelmed. Where does one even begin? I learned about hydrogenated fat in the early '90s. When I spoke out loud about it people looked at me like I had two heads. Now it's part of common food labeling. By the time some of this awareness becomes mainstream, it's almost too late. The damage has been done.
How do you feel about being known as the Burger Lady?
Being the burger lady is a great conversation-starter everywhere I go. It certainly helps people remember me. The burger story has been terrific for my Google ranking! I at first really resisted the idea of being known as the burger lady. It seemed impossible after a while to avoid. So now it's another layer to my personal brand!
What do you do to relax when you're not saving the planet?
My most beloved hobby is photography — nature, stills and artful nudity! I adore reading, walking and cooking! I am becoming a gardener, too!
Be sure to keep track of the Burger Lady and keep up on the rest of Hanrahan's post over at Best of Mother Earth.
Photo courtesy of Karen Hanrahan