Mesquite Trees Feel the Bite

The next time you’re about to bite into that sizzling mesquite-grilled burger or blackened bluefish, think twice. That smoky, outdoorsy flavor has an unpleasant history.

Native Americans have been using parts of the mesquite tree as food and fuel for centuries. But ever since mesquite grilling came into vogue a few years back, the Sonoran desert of the southwestern U.S. has been in growing jeopardy. In the past 20 years, a desert area the size of Massachusetts has been decimated, largely as a result of charcoal production.