(RADIOLAB SHOW OPEN)
AP: Good? Okay.
DP: Okay. Is your mic on?
AP: Yeah. I'm getting, this is making me nervous. Maybe I should get my epi pen.
DP: Are you allergic to radio greatness?
AP: Not that I know of? I haven't been really exposed to that yet. Anyway, let's go.
DP: Are we rolling? We're good. We're going.
VOICE: We're rolling.
RK: I'm Robert Krulwich. This is Radiolab and today we're going to begin with a conversation between Dan Pashman.
RK: ...host of a podcast here at WNYC called The Sporkful. It's about food and Amy Pearl.
RK: A digital producer here at the station who likes food.
RK: and the conversation they had was about something that happened to Amy, which he never expected. Certainly didn't want and yet it could happen to any of us at any time.
DP: So years ago, before any of this happened to you, just tell me, what was your relationship with meat?
AP: My relationship with meat?
AP: Well you know how when you're little and your mom is like, you have any special dinner for your birthday? My dinner was meatballs and she was like except meatballs, they’re so hard to make. So it was pot roast and then Peter Luger - you know Peter Luger's?
DP: Famous steakhouse in Brooklyn.
AP: I used to go there quite often and I lived there and I have a Peter Luger credit card so…
DP: Are those hard to get?
AP: I, you know, I don't, I don't know how they give them out but nobody seems to have one. I don't think they give them out anymore, but I mean I was very into meat. I was living in Williamsburg and it just an opened at like 1:00 every day…
AP: ...and you could just walk in at one, they had an amazing bar. There's no table cloth on the table. These old German waiters, they bring out your porterhouse for three. They put a little plate upside down and then put the big platter on top of it so it's tilted and all the juice runs to the end and then they like have the special double spoon thing that they somehow like scoop juice onto your steak and ugh, so good.
AP: And also like the smell of burning fat from a hamburger.
DP: What about hot dogs?
AP: Oh my God. I love hotdogs so much. When you bite into them and they're like, klack, and have like a snap… and like having a weenie roast out in the open air is just as like the, Oh God, it's so good. Anyway, I. I was always very into meat.
DP: What changed?
AP: Oh my God. It was terrible. It was... what happened was I was having this beautiful... it was spring time, I was having a beautiful leg of lamb with some neighbors and we like put it on the grill and it was just a delicious, beautiful dinner and I had served with it some ramps that I foraged in my mom's yard.
RK: A ramp, by the way, is just a wild onion.
AP: And so, so we had this delicious meal and then, you know, I went home and I was going to sleep at like midnight, like few hours later. And I just felt weird. I was like, Oh God, something's wrong. I feel really anxious, like something's wrong with me. And I went in the bathroom and I like look in the mirror. And my face was like, all weird looking. And I was like, I kept laying down to be like, I'll just sleep it off, whatever it is, but every time I lay down it felt like I was gonna faint. So I was like prop myself up. And I was like, oh, God, I was having terrible, like stomach cramps and just like a weird feeling of impending doom, you know? But just like anybody, I'm just like, just get a good night's sleep. This will pass, I like splash a little water on my face.
AP: I mean, don’t know what made me think this, but I thought like maybe a snail, a tiny snail was on one of the ramps that I ate and it was like poisoning me somehow. You know, snails, I mean they probably poison us. So I called my friends in the morning. I was like, hey, how are you guys doing? How was dinner? And they were like, oh, so great. I was like, really? So great. Nothing weird?
DP: No horrific panic attacks?
AP: They were like, oh, so lovely. Thank you so much. Let's do it again, blah blah blah. I was like, wow, I really had a rough night and, but I didn't think anything of it. Then I went on with my life, you know, just like whatever.
AP: And then about a week or two later I made some cheeseburgers and I ate a cheeseburger and that was watching Goodbye Mr. Chips, a really tear jerking movie and a good book, too. And um, about a couple of hours after I ate, I was like starting to feel really weird again. I was like feeling like I was like, had to stand up. I was like, I think I'm going to faint. I feel really lightheaded. I can't catch my breath. I feel like really woozy. But if anytime I lay down I really felt like I was gonna faint. So I was like trying to say sitting upright. I was like, oh my God, this is very similar. I ran into the bathroom and I was like looking in the mirror and lo and behold, I had hives all over my stomach and then they started coming out of my hands and I was like, oh my God, something's happening. And at one point I did get up and unlock my door because I did feel like I'm gonna pass out, call an ambulance and then they're not going to be able to get in.
AP: So I mean I was in a little bit afraid of what was happening
AP: And when I woke up in the morning, the first thing I did was Google sudden meat allergy because I was like, this seems like an allergy. And the only thing that was the same was meat. And I'm going through and like the second thing that came up was this article that was like “Florida Man Has Sudden Meat Allergy.” I was like, oh my God, I think is a possible. I could have this. And so I made an appointment with my doctor. I brought in the article. I'm like, I'm going to be this person, but I can do it. I had the article in my pocket…
DP: What person?
AP: You know, the person that goes to their doctor with something I found on the Internet. So I brought the article. It was in my pocket and like I got through the whole like checkup and I was too chicken. I went, when I was paying the receptionist, I pulled it out and gave it to the receptionist and I was like, could you give this to the doctor? So that was like the best I could do. And then I did call my doctor and had a conversation with him on the phone asking him if I could get tested. And he was like, no, there's no such thing as a meat allergy, blah blah blah.
PS: So, so some people think allergies are just like in your head…
RK: This is science writer, Peter Smith. We got in touch with him after we heard Amy’s story because Peter is an investigator of many things including strange allergies.
PS: And people are like, mushrooms hurt them or they think--
LN: wifi hurts them.
PS: Yeah, wifi hurts them and I don't know…
RK: And when our producer Latif Nasser and I got into the studio and we told them about Amy’s story.
PS: Yeah. All right.
RK: I know exactly who you need to talk to.
LN: Yeah hi!
PS: Thomas Plats Mills.
TPM: This is Thomas Plats Mills. That's right.
LN: How are you?
TPM: I'm very well.
RK: Dr. Platts Mills is down at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He's a professor and he works at an allergy clinic.
TPM: At the allergy clinic, we are constantly sifting through stories which not only you don't believe, but are actually nonsense. Simply…
RK: And he told us in the last 10 years or so, he started hearing lots of stories just like Amy’s. Somebody shows up at the office, convinced that they're allergic all of a sudden for no apparent reason to red meat.
TPM: The first time I heard it was probably as early as 2004…
RK: And every single time he heard the story, he would tell the patient exactly what Amy's doctor told her.
RK: No way.
TPM: No, no, no.
RK: It's not possible.
RK: So what was wrong with these complaints, you know, in a, in an orthodox medical way?
TPM: Oh, everything. Adults don't become allergic to something they've eaten for 40 years out of the blue and certainly not red meat.
RK: So you're, you're basically saying to these patients, I think you must be making this up because I can't explain it.
TPM: I don’t, I don't use language like that. I said, there there…
RK: I was trying to do your inner voice.
TPM: Oh, you don't want to know what doctors are thinking in their inner voices. You often think in the middle of an interview, is it possible that he's got some ghastly disease?
LN: Mad cow…
RK: That the point is that when he'd hear a story like Amy's, he just…
TPM: ...didn't believe it.
RK: But then everything changed. Thanks, oddly enough to a cancer drug.
PS: This new cancer drug called Cetuximab...
NEWS: in New York today, Martha Stewart was indicted on criminal charges.
RK: This is the very drug that got Martha Stewart in all that trouble for insider trading.
TPM: Remember that and went to jail for six months.
RK: Anyway, very promising, exciting new drug, but then...
PS: Doctors were giving people this injection and it was just like end up on the floor of the doctor's office…
RK: In shock?
PS: Yeah, they would be in anaphylactic shock.
RK: Their hearts would start beating faster. They'd get short of breath and get stomach cramps. Their immune system would start to overreact to something new and alien that came in with the drug. Basically a classic allergic reaction.
PS: So the mystery lands on Thomas Plots Mills’ desk.
TPM: Yes. So we were asked to look at Cetuximab...
RK: ... to see if they could figure out what was causing the reaction.
PS: And he tests to groups of blood, a control sample, and then people that have this allergy.
RK: And he quickly zeroed in on a particular molecule, a sugar that was part of the drug.
TPM: This sugar - Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose - alpha gal.
RK: Alpha gal?
TPM: Yeah. As in a particularly great lady. Better than the Beta or Gamma gals…
PS: It’s like Alpha Male but Alpha Female didn’t quite have a ring to it.
RK: Anyway. It seemed like Alpha Gal was the culprit.
TPM: Yeah, and if you'd told me four years earlier that there's a whole lot of people out there who are allergic to this sugar, I'd have thought you were smoking, you know vaping again.
RK: Because not only does this sugar Alpha Gal show up in the cancer drug and this is where he get back to Amy. It also shows up in the blood of mammals…
TPM: All non primate mammals…
RK: So every time you eat…
TPM: Beef, goat, camel
TPM: Pig’s kidneys
RK: You’re also eating alpha gal.
AP: So I’m reading this article and it says like, it's this thing called Alpha galactose or alpha gal or whatever…
RK: So it made no sense that someone like Amy who had been eating meat all her life, would suddenly somehow be allergic to Alpha Gal.
AP: I just was like, this was so stupid.
RK: So, One day…
AP: It's getting to be barbecue season. I usually have like a couple of barbecues where I just do a whole pork butt and a brisket and like hang out all day doing it and I was like very wanted to do that and I was like, I'm just gonna not eat meat and not even know. So I was like, forget it. My doctor won’t test me, I'm gonna test myself. So I was going to be very careful. I got a thing of Benadryl and I was like, I'm not going to do it alone. I'll do it with my mom, my poor mom. And so I went up to my mom's and she's like really into food too. So she was like, oh this is so exciting. I got two porterhouse steaks on sale at Stews.
DP: Did you explain to her what you were testing?
AP: Yeah, I did because I had talked a little bit about it with her. So like, fire up the grill, do a porterhouse. I even think I like instagrammed it as a joke. Like, ha ha ha, this might be the last time you hear from me, but so you know, we're having a nice summer day. Just me and my mom having our steak. I only ate like a couple bites because I was slightly nervous and I was like sitting in the grass with my dog and reading a book and trying to think like, do I feel normal, which try it folks. It's hard to figure out when you start asking yourself, do I feel normal? Does this, am I breathing? Does my stomach hurt, is something wrong. And I was like, after a while it's like, ugh, I feel pretty good. And the neighbor came over and was like chatting with us and it was in the middle of that conversation where I was like, oh, I kind of feel like I have to go the bathroom, but maybe I just have to go to the bathroom.
AP: So I went to the bathroom, I was sitting there and I was like, Oh God, something feels bad. Um, and then I was like, gosh, I definitely, this is not right. Something's wrong. And I went in to get the Benadryl and I took the Benadryl and I went on my bed and in the guestroom at my mom's. And I was like sitting on there and I was like, ooo, I just don’t feel right. Maybe I just take a deep breath. I'll just stand up. Maybe I just put my hands over my head like this. Oh, that does feel slightly better I think. Then I was finally like, I think we should go to the hospital. And I went outside. I was like, mom, I think you have to drive me to the hospital. She was like talking to her neighbor. She was like, what? Oh my God, honey, what? Let me go change my clothes. Change my clothes. Like mom, you know, she's not wearing the hospital level clothes. So I'm like, okay, hurry up mom, mom, are you ready, mom? And then I was like, while she was changing her clothes, I suddenly was like, oh my God got my wallet out of my cell phone. And I like threw it towards my mom's bedroom door. And I was like, here's my insurance card. Call an ambulance. And I just hit the floor. Eventually the ambulance arrives and I got stabilized. I was strapped to the thing. I was in the emergency room like they were shooting me full of I don’t know what - Epinephrine and Adrenaline and the little like 12 year old emergency room doctor runs in and he was like, I looked it up on the Internet - Alpha Gal. Fascinating. What? That's terrible. I've never heard of that. Could it be true? Yes, it's true. Like they're all having this discussion there. Then when I went back to my doctor after that and I was like, Hey, just get out of the emergency room, because they tested me for Alpha gal and I'm allergic to meat.
RK: So this is an allergy.
PS: Yeah, so all of a sudden you're looking at the quote crazies and they're not so quote crazy anymore.
TPM: Absolutely. We suddenly had a blood test and of course what turned out is all these patients who'd been telling us this story were allergic to Alpha Gal.
PS: But it's still like a mystery.
TPM: Right? There are…
RK: Thomas Plats Mills couldn't figure out why people like Amy who had lived for 40 years eating porterhouse steaks at Peter Luger's with a credit card, why would she suddenly develop an allergy now? There’d got to be some kind of trigger.
TPM: Yes, so we were looking for anything that could explain it.
PS: It could be a mold, it could be a nematode…
TPM: A worm or a fungus…
RK: But then he looked again and noticed that all the people who had had bad reactions to the cancer drug...
TPM: They were in a particular area of the country.
TPM: It was Virginia, North Carolina, southern Missouri, Arkansas - no cases in Salt Lake City. No cases in Denver, smatterings down the West...
RK: So he turned to his technician, Jake, and he said, I said, you've got a Google every map you can find and say what matches that area…
RK: Creatures or diseases that appear wherever the allergy appears. So Jake starts googling,
PS: Googling and googling and googling...
RK: And eventually he comes across a map that…
TPM: Matches where the cases are very beautifully... the maximum area for rocky mountain spotted fever.
PS: So he made this little map and it's like the shaded dark areas of the country, area, places with rocky mountain spotted fever, and then there's like some stars. Where this, this allergy had appeared.
PS: And they overlap.
TPM: Very interesting.
PS: And then all of a sudden it clicks. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tickborne disease.
TPM: This is the distribution of the lone star tick.
RK: And actually just a little before this, it turns out and allergist down in Australia, Sheryl van Nunen.
SV: First name Sheryl. Van Nunen. V-a-n and then n-u-n-e-n. And I'm from the Tick-Induced Allergy Research and Awareness Center in Sydney, Australia.
RK: She says she was now being visited by all kinds of people who claimed suddenly to be allergic to meat.
SV: And whenever I take a history, so for example, I'd ask them, was there a family history of rhinitis, Eczema, asthma, a stinging insect allergy, and they say they've all been bitten by ticks.
TPM: When we started asking patients, we suddenly heard the stories just out the kazoo.
RK: But at this point Dr. Platts-Mills, all he has is a map, some stories, and a hunch.
LN: Right? So…
RK: So what does he do?
PS: He decides, well, maybe I'll just do this to myself.
RK: He does what?
PS: He decides to test it on himself.
RK: Oh my God.
PS: He sort of denies that he did it intentionally.
TPM: I know I had no intention.
PS: I mean I think he also likes to walk and amble and think about things…
PS: So he goes for a long walk along the Blue Ridge mountains...
TPM: and I knew I wanted to be off trail because I'm actually allergic to humans…
RK: So he's walking and walking and walking and along the way--
RK: He bumps into a whole bunch of ticks…
TPM: And if you walk into a nest of those things…
LN: Oh my God, this sounds like a nightmare.
TPM: Yeah, absolutely. I got 200 seat ticks…
PS: Oh boy.
TPM: And then in November of that year I was taken out to dinner and the lamb chops were particularly delicious and the French wine was delicious and six hours later I woke up, covered in hives.
PS: He's got an allergy to red meat.
RK: All just because of a…
TPM: Tick bite.
PS: Tick bite.
TPM: That’s right.
RK: We’ll bit you right back after this.
RK: I'm Robert Krulwich. This is Radiolab. Now we go back to Amy just when she's discovered that the allergy to meat that she's developed, comes from a tick bite.
AP: A tick bite - hang on a second because like a few weeks before all this started happening, as I said, I was foraging for ramps in my mom's backyard and I had a tick on my, on my arm.
RK: Now, it turns out that not only was that tick bite a terrible thing for Amy, it was a kind of double tragedy hidden…
MUSIC FROM CLIP
ATTENBOROUGH CLIP: Hidden from view amongst the trees and in the undergrowth…
RK: And I think it's only right at this point to backup
ATTENBOROUGH CLIP: ... is a fascinating world of wonders…
RK: And consider the story from the tick’s point of view.
GH: Okay. So, uh, I'm Graham Hickling. I'm a wildlife disease ecologist at the University of Tennessee.
RK: So I was wondering if you could help us tell the story of, in this case, the lone star tick that bit Amy.
GH: Oh yeah, sure.
GH: So they start off on this little pile of eggs, perhaps a mass of 2000 eggs under the leaves…
RK: The proud mom who just gave birth…
GH: At that point, she's just a kind of a withered husk.
RK: Meaning dead. Anyway…
GH: A few weeks later those eggs will hatch and this mass of 2000 baby ticks emerge from under the leaves.
RK: And could I see them with my naked eye?
GH: If you ran into a mass of them all up together, you would feel like you've got a little smudge of dirt and then the dirt starts walking and so they'll just climb up and you know, potentially be on the same leaf or the same twig looking for something to feed on.
RK: Now, one teeny little tiny problem for these teeny little tiny ticks…
GH: Is that they dry out.
RK: So when they come up from under the bus,
GH: they come up briefly…
RK: And then they go back down, get a little water, come back up, get thirsty, go back down…
GH: Then rehydrate…
LN: So they like commute.
GH: Exactly. And we refer to the behavior as questing.
LN: Ah, questing.
RK: So if you were one of these little baby ticks up questing for food...
GH: While you're up there, you are essentially velcro...
RK: Because on each one of your little legs...
GH: You have little kind of like hook-like structures and so you’re flat against the leaf...
RK: Sort of sniffing in the air with your two front legs…
GH: That can detect CEO to heat movement…
RK: So let's say one day you're sitting there on your leaf and you pick up the scent of a nearby mouse…
GH: Mice are the potato chips of the ecosystem. Everything sneaks them…
RK: Which means you might be about to have your very first meal.
GH: So you basically stand up…
RK: Stretch out all your little legs…
GH: And do a tick dance. So it's kind of interpretive dance-like movements…
RK: While you're waiting for that mouse to come, just close enough that you can grab onto it. So you're dancing and you're waiting and you're dancing and you're waiting and you're dancing and you're waiting and you're dancing and you’re waiting…
GH: To be honest, you are probably going to wait your entire life and die unfulfilled because there are 2000 of you starting off and a stable tick population is only going to be 2 of you that survive.
RK: Oh my gosh. So 1,998 little baby ticks are born.
GH: And then that's it for them.
RK: But, let's say that you're one of the lucky ones and one sunny day there you are hanging out on your little leaf. When you detect two incoming mammals - one is a 40 year old, hominid. The other is her dog. So, you perk up, trust your legs out…
GH: Wave, do the tick dance…
RK: And say that you're waving and you're dancing and you're hoping and your waving and you're dancing and you're hoping and you're waiting and you're dancing and you're hoping and slowly the dog’s getting closer and closer and closer and you reach out with one of your tiny little limbs so you can - grab on and eat and survive.
AP: But the reason that tick ended up on me was I slept in bed with my dog naked. I mean she's always naked, but I was also naked. I mean, that's not gross. I don't know. I mean, does that sound weird?
RK: No. But how do you know that’s when it happened?
AP: Because I know that like I did a good tick check on myself and I took a shower and everything and then in the middle of the night I woke up with a itching sensation and I went to the bathroom and I couldn't really see what was on, like something was on the back of my arm and it was a tick.
RK: So as the tick is biting into Amy, what is it giving Amy that's going to make her allergic to meat?
GH: Actually, I need to stop you there, Robert.
SV: Mmm… difficult one, Robert.
GH: I don't know the answer to that.
RK: That’s Peter Smith and rejoining us is Sheryl Van Nunen, the scientist.
SVN: It's all up for speculation.
PS: We don't really know. Here's the theory.
RK: So normally when you eat a piece of meat, you put Alpha Gal in your stomach and your stomach digests it and it's in your body and it's no big deal.
SV: But the tick cunningly
GH: will drill into you, poke into you
SV: and injects
PS: its saliva. We'll call that tick spit.
LN: Tick spit?
PS: Into its victims
RK: straight into its’ victims largest organ
PS: The skin
GH: Tick spit has an anti clotting factor, anesthetic, anti-inflammatory compounds, and
RK: We think
SV: The alpha gal.
RK: Now Peter says the thing about the skin is…
PS: The skin is like this enormous like surveillance system
RK: it's always on the lookout for invaders, so when the alpha gal comes through your skin covered by all that bad, bad tick spit stuff
PS: That's going to really like set off your immune system
RK: the immune system freaks out
PS: like, oh, uh uh
RK: And the Alpha Gal covered now in bad spit almost sort of
SV: by mistake
RK: gets labeled bad and now it's on the bad guy watch list, so
RK: the next time you eat meat,
SV: the meat comes in
PS: and then
RK: the body unleashes wave upon wave upon wave of chemical attacks
PS: to do battle against this Alpha gal. And this reaction gets way out of hand. You got so many antibodies, multiple, multiple, multiple times multiplying, making you this case, Amy, feel just horrible, right?
AP: I mean, it's very weird. It sounds like a science fiction movie. It sounds like the beginning of a science fiction, at least kids book, let's not go to movie, but like it's, it's just strange.
RK: which all goes to say that this really is the kind of double tragedy for Amy and her tick.
PS: Yeah. Cuz ticks didn’t evolve to bite humans.
GH: Right? We're a mistake.
PS: Like we have opposable thumbs.
GH: We’re either going to pull them off.
AP: I actually woke my mom up and she helped get it off
GH: or if they drop off they're going to drop off in a airport terminal or a Walmart car park or somewhere like that.
RK: Shag carpet,
GH: Or a shag carpet indoors and they're doomed.
RK: And for us, well we lose something that historically anyway, is a big part of who we are.
PS: Yeah. Because we, we have, we, we adapted in the grand evolutionary scheme of things to like eat flesh to eat meat.
AP: I mean I'm actually sitting here picturing a steak, but actually the thing, I mean hot dogs like wrap ramps around a weenie and yum - that sounds so good. My mouth's watering. Weenies and ramps.
AP: But I am going my allergist tomorrow because I did, you know, I was reading about this allergy a lot when I first got it and I read that for some people the allergy can fade away so I'm going to get a blood test to see what my blood level of Alpha gal is.
DP: So what are you hoping for tomorrow?
AP: I want to be normal
RK: That was the end of the Dan and Amy conversation. She was going to go to the doctor, get herself tested, find out whatever … so we asked her back in…
RK: to find out what happened.
AP: So I actually did get an appointment with my allergist, Dr. Corn. Her name is Dr. Corn. She's really nice. Um, so I got the appointment. I got the blood draw, whatever. And a few days later my doctor called me and she said that my numbers were still really high and I was like, well how high are they? And she was like three. And I was like three. That's not high. And she's like, they're supposed to be like one or something. So they had gone down, but they were still, you know, many times more than they should be.
RK: But when you left and you were waiting for the call, will you waiting with the hope that, that you would soon be eating a bit of hot dog?
AP: I mean honestly I was hoping. No…
RK: Wait a second - you are the big. You, you…
AP: No but I was afraid that she would be like, oh my God, your numbers are so low. I think you could probably eat meat. Let's do a food challenge. I'll be like, ah, like that's such a scary memory. Yeah. I don't know actually just the other night I was eating at an Indian place and I was eating vegetarian but like I felt something and I pulled it out and in the dim light of an Indian restaurant, like why are they all like that? I was like, was this bacon? And I suddenly, you know, like you just get this drop in your stomach. And I'm like, what time is it? Four hours from now if I can, because it's, there's something about it being delayed that makes it so difficult to just as like
RK: Like a suspense movie with you.
AP: It's like it could happen in the next three hours or maybe not. I don't know. I mean honestly, the only thing that, the real reason I want to be able to eat meat is so that I will be prepared to eat it in case of emergency. I mean I went on a canoe trip in the Adirondacks and I was like, well, what happens if I get stranded out here? And like, what if I have to hunt but I can't even eat meat. I would have to hunt fish. But then when the lake freezes over, what would I eat? I can't survive. Something's wrong with me. I feel evolutionary challenged. This is what I think about before I go to bed every night. Would I be able to survive if I had just what's on me right now? A pen, underwear, my dog. And so yeah, I mean that's a real issue is like, it's not a real issue. Obviously. It's never going to happen. I live in Brooklyn, but I, I do for some reason I always think like I want to be prepared in case. But um, yeah, you know, I don't think I would go back to eating meat necessarily.
RK: Like you are still more, more frightened than game, so to speak.
AP: Well also like I wish I could be a vegetarian for ethical reasons because it's not so much just the eating meat but just like, you know, the, the, the factory farming and that kind of stuff. So I feel like morally superior now I can be like, well I don't eat red meat. Of course I'm forced to not eat it, but at the same time I would, if I had the, if I had the willpower, I'd probably go that way anyway. And then also I think it's great. It's like we're all evolving to be on this planet which is getting harder to be on and we know that meat takes a lot of and like now I don't, now I'm not doing that. So like the tick is helping me evolve into a better human being.
RK: So one could, instead of thinking of the tick as your teeny weeny irritating enemy, you could think of it as a guiding light, making the world safer to share with your fellow earthlings.
DP: So you may have lost your relationship with meat, but at least you have your moral superiority.
AP: Yeah, I mean. Hi, I'm superior. Yeah.
RK: So huge thanks to Amy Pearl for telling a story which never stopped, never stopped being scary and wonderful and to the fellow who brought her into the room, Dan Pashman, whose podcast the Sporkful is - it’s all about food in every conceivable way. He talks about eating it, preparing it, worrying about it as you've heard, getting sick from it, getting fat from it, whatever. And you can find his show on itunes or stitcher or on the Internet@asporkful.com. And this story was produced by Annie Mcewen and Matt Kielty with reporting help from Latif Nasser. See you next time.
AP: If I get like cut off from the group when I’m out on a tour of the woods or something and i have to sleep overnight and I could eat like a frog, a bug, but I couldn’t eat like a squirrel, a mouse - I guess I could eat bird.
VOICE: Another option…
AP: What? Kill myself?
VOICE: The alpha gal is in all mammals but not primates.
AP: That’s so… like… a chimp-burger? Nah.
RK: Well maybe think even more darkly?
AP: A human? Another human? Baby?
RK: No one said baby.
VOICE: No one said baby.
RK: Just good old ordinary cannibal night!
AP: If I’m really gonna go for it, I’m picturing a baby.
AP: But turkey meatballs are (bleep)ing awesome.