Can we just stop blaming beef?

Plus: The worst places in the U.S. for seasonal allergies.

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“If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down.”

― Buddha

The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.

Wednesday.  Netflix announced yesterday that it will no longer mail out DVD rentals, which begs the question — who still owns a DVD player? In other Netflix-related news, the company’s plan to crack down on password-sharing has been pushed back to later this year. Phew. In other, more important news, it's about time we shift the blame from beef to a more accurate culprit in the fight against climate change. Let’s dive in.

Stop Blaming The Cows 

Recently, there has been a lot of concern in the media about cattle and their impact on climate change. This is one of the main talking points for anyone trying to convince you to eat more highly processed Impossible or Beyond Meat burgers. Eating fake meat is the right thing to do for the environment. Don’t you care about the environment? 

Before you get convinced that eating more soy, corn, and vegetable oils is the right thing to do for the planet, it is important to understand that biogenic methane — the type produced by cattle and other ruminant animals — is fundamentally different from the carbon dioxide emissions generated by fossil fuels.

Biogenic methane is a natural part of the earth's carbon cycle, as it is derived from atmospheric carbon and is a short-lived flow gas that lasts in our atmosphere for about 12 years. In contrast, carbon dioxide is a stock gas that accumulates in our atmosphere for over 1,000 years. 

It is also important to note that the carbon in biogenic methane is recycled carbon that was in the air prior to being consumed by an animal. It is all one big cycle — plants absorb carbon dioxide, and through photosynthesis, they harness the energy of the sun to produce carbohydrates such as cellulose. Cows then break down the indigestible cellulose in their rumens, taking the carbon that makes up the cellulose they consume and emitting a portion as methane. After about 12 years, the methane is converted into carbon dioxide, and we go back to the start of the cycle. 

It’s not like cows are putting any additional carbon into the atmosphere. They are just participating in a natural cycle that has been around for millions of years. 

We aren’t saying that methane emissions from cattle should be ignored. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and how animals are raised can impact their methane emissions. For example, feedlots and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) can produce more methane than grass-fed cattle raised on regenerative farms.

Healthy soil is full of bacteria that help consume methane expelled by ruminants. As more producers adopt regenerative practices for raising cattle, like rotational grazing and avoiding agricultural chemicals and tillage, the soil will get healthier, naturally reducing methane emissions in the process. 

The impact of cattle on the environment and climate change is also often overstated. The oil and gas sector has historically underreported its emissions and often uses cattle and animal agriculture as a scapegoat to distract from its own impact on climate change. Comparing livestock emissions with those from fossil fuels is not only a red herring allowing the oil and gas sector to continue business as usual. The comparison also falsely vilifies a nutrient-dense, traditional food and distracts us from solving our biggest problem: our addiction to fossil fuels. 

The key takeaway? The problem with our food system is not livestock itself but rather how food is produced. It’s our yield-obsessed food system that has hurt the environment and negatively impacted food security, quality, and safety, and farmers' mental health and access to reasonable income. We need to stop blaming beef and instead support farms and producers raising livestock the right way so we can push our entire food system in the right direction.

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Allergy Hot Spots  

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, affect over 100 million people each year, and climate change is causing earlier onset of symptoms than ever before.

Depending on your location and the severity of triggers like pollen and air pollution, your allergic reaction may be stronger than in other areas. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recently released its 2023 Allergy Capitals report, which ranks metropolitan areas in the United States based on total pollen scores, over-the-counter allergy medication use, and the number of allergy specialists. 

According to the report, Buffalo, NY; Seattle, WA; Cleveland, OH; Austin, TX; and Akron, OH are the top five cities for people with allergic rhinitis, while Provo, UT; Winston-Salem, NC; Colorado Springs, CO; Raleigh, NC; and Madison, WI are the top five cities for people with asthma. 

The five worst cities for allergies are Wichita, KS; Dallas, TX; Scranton, PA; Oklahoma City, OK; and Tulsa, OK. 

I guess Oklahoma is not where you want to be if you have seasonal allergies.

Tonic Shots

  • Potassium is a key mineral that many Americans need to get more of. Aside from bananas, what are some of the best foods packed with potassium? This list unpacks it all! 

  • Speaking of asthma, some plants might trigger symptoms while others are much safer. Get all the details here. 

  • Soup for breakfast? What kind of madness is this? Check out this recipe if you want to change things up a bit to start the day.

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