Green Fire – How to Eco Grill By Elden Freeman
September always signals that bittersweet transition as summer passes into fall. It’s also a great time to hold end-of‐summer barbecues. And while outdoor cooking and all that it entails—smoked food, charcoal, lighter fluid, burning non‐renewable resources such as natural gas—summons several big environmental no-nos, there are ways your eco footprint can tread a little more lightly. Here’s how:
Get Your Grill On:
With gas grills, it’s important to know that gas burns much cleaner than basic charcoal, which emits carbon monoxide. Still, the carbon footprint emanating from the use of gas grills is pretty large when you consider the fuel you’re burning is non‐renewable and that the amount of fuel needed to operate a gas barbecue is comparatively large.
Consider what material your grill is made of—cast iron or stainless steel barbecues are non‐toxic but look out for those made from chrome-coated aluminum, which becomes harmful when the aluminum oxidizes.
Fire Up the BBQ:
Barbecuing with charcoal produces more carbon monoxide and soot than any other method. Charcoal briquettes may contain sodium nitrate and coal dust. The way they’re processed contributes to deforestation so avoid them.
Instead use organic or natural lump coal, a much greener alternative that still gives off that delicious smoky barbecue flavour. Lump coal has no additives or chemicals and it does not contribute to deforestation.
Avoid lighter fluids altogether, they’re known to contain harmful VOCs and are carcinogenic. Try twigs and old newspaper instead.
Vegetarian Barbecue, Anyone?
Nothing says barbecue like a nice steak, burger or sausage, right? Perhaps but environmentally speaking, we’d all be better off if we consumed less meat. Why? Well, that rib-eye you devoured comes at a pretty steep cost when you consider how much water it takes to produce it and the levels of harmful greenhouse gases produced by cows. Consider meat that’s organic or grass‐fed. As an alternative, try more carbon‐neutral proteins such as fish or chicken. Buy sustainable seafood.
Grill vegetables on your barbecue and mix them together in a salad. Pour on a blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a squirt of mustard and a smidgeon of honey and season with salt, pepper and fresh herbs from your garden.
Fruit is becoming a popular favourite on the grill. Try sliced pineapple seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper or grill peaches marinated in rum and butter and serve with ice cream. Buy locally grown and produced products whenever possible.
Throw a pizza on your grill, try salmon on a cedar plank or grill corn‐on‐the‐cob right in their husks. Your possibilities are limited only by your imagination.