Red meat. I love it.
Steak. Burgers. Boeuf bourguignon. Carne asada. The list goes on.
But it's a guilty pleasure. For years, reports have cited that raising cattle is pretty detrimental to the environment. Two new studies - including one put out by the National Academy of Sciences - add more evidence to the pile.
Basically, raising cattle requires a tremendous amount of land and a whole lot of water - way more than raising dairy, pork, poultry and eggs. Plus, it puts about five times as many greenhouse gases into the air. As the report points out, if you really want to cut back on carbon emissions, giving up beef is better than giving up driving.
So what to do? I certainly don't want to give it up, although I'm willing to scale back. A burger or steak just once a week - I can do that. That's probably not going to solve the problem.
But maybe Mother Nature is already providing us with a solution - the Lone Star tick. Its bite introduces a certain type of sugar into our bloodstream - a sugar that we don't make ourselves - and our bodies perceive it as a threat, developing antibodies for the next time we come across it...
...which is probably the next time we eat beef, pork, venison, or even some dairy. Before the tick bite, we had no problems digesting that particular sugar but now that we've been bitten, our immune system sees that sugar as a threat, kicks into high gear - hives, itching, swelling, anaphylactic shock - and sends us to the hospital.
Allergists are still trying to figure out the long term effects of a bite, as well as exactly how long the allergy lasts - it may turn out to be permanent for some people. But they'll have more opportunity to study the tick, as there have been an increasing number of cases across the eastern and southern US.
And one reason for the tick's spread? Climate change, caused in part by greenhouse gas emissions, such as raising cattle. Maybe I'll have a chicken sandwich after all.