How many burritos does it take to fly from Chicago to St. Louis?

By: Matt Grocoff , Contributing Writer
In: Green Renovations, In The News

Once again the folks at the Energy Information Administration (EIA) have creatively illuminated our annual per capita energy consumption. This time they give us a delicious visual.

With their creative energy map called "How Much Energy Do You Use," you can find a state-by-state breakdown of per capita energy consumption by state. They start by giving you the BTUs of energy (British Thermal Units for those of you who get glassy-eyed at spreadsheets). Boring.

What's not boring? Burritos. I mean, who doesn't love burritos? Seriously. Ever hear someone say "I live in Alaska and I consume 334,200,00 BTUs every year"? Of course not. But if that same person said "I consume 70,228 burritos worth of energy (39,002 above the U.S. burrito average)," now I'm listening and ready for dinner.

Maybe we should start referring to Burrito Thermal Units. We can even still use the BTU abbreviation.

Fascinatingly, the infographic tells us that the energy in 5,000 burritos is equal to 50,000 sticks of dynamite and 1,000 pounds of coal. I'm no mathematician, but seems like that means you'd need 10 sticks of dynamite to demolish a single energy burrito. If one burrito has as much energy as 10 sticks of dynamite . . . that may explain a few things about the last burrito I ate. But I digress.

Here's a break down of the top 10 energy burrito consuming states.

  1. Alaska: 70,228 burrito energy unit equivalents
  2. Wyoming: 60,162 burrito energy unit equivalents
  3. North Dakota: 59,532 burrito energy unit equivalents
  4. Louisiana: 45,789 burrito energy unit equivalents
  5. South Dakota: 41,901 burrito energy unit equivalents
  6. Montana: 41,166 burrito energy unit equivalents
  7. Oklahoma: 41,208 burrito energy unit equivalents
  8. Mississippi: 39,590 burrito energy unit equivalents
  9. Kentucky: 39,043 burrito energy unit equivalents
  10. Nebraska: 38,938 burrito energy unit equivalents

Now, if you're still wondering how many burritos it would take to fly from Chicago to St. Louis, the answer is 35,933.

Burrito energy graph
Infographic credit to Energy Information Administration

The real policy question is, "Should we really be strip-mining mountains, or should we be fracking for burritos and burning them in our cars and power plants?" The answer is clearly 'no.' We should eat the burritos, order up some chips and guacamole, and advocate for energy efficiency, distributed energy and water systems, and clean, home-grown renewable energy.

Now please pass me the queso and the hot sauce . . .