Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Green grilling methods

Every July 4th, 60 million U.S. barbecues emit 225,000 metric tons (5.17 million lbs) of CO2 . Propane & natural gas, although they’re nonrenewable fossil fuels, release the least CO2 when burned. Electric grills, fed by power plants, cause the highest CO2 emissions but release no air pollution while they cook. Charcoal, made from wood, contributes to deforestation and burns dirtiest, spewing lung-threatening particles of soot.

If you’re happy with your hibachi and charcoal, no reason to pop for a new, less-polluting propane grill. But you can green it up by burning solid charcoal from well-managed forests or untreated scrap wood instead of toxic-chemical-larded briquettes (never dump these on a beach!). The EPA advises using a chimney or electric starter instead of lighter fluids, which produce 14,500 tons of smog. For a green upgrade (less deforestation attached) and more distinctive taste, use real wood charcoal harvested from sustainably managed forests or reclaimed (and untreated) lumber. Lump charcoal is cleaner than conventional briquettes, which may contain coal dust and chemical additives as binders, advises the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Here’s a list of greener charcoal to stoke up on.
Cowboy Charcoal: Made from fast-replenishing hickory and mesquite
Original Charcoal: From Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) audited American tree farms, not clearcut forests.
Lazzari Charcoal: Made from mesquite, some from Rainforest Alliance/ FSC certified sources.
Nature’s Own Chunk Charwood: Made from logging leftovers; cured with grain alcohol rather than petroleum.
Greenlink Charcoal and Briquettes: Made from mangrove wood, coconut shells.

Grill without guilt! For more information about green cooking methods, recycled materials and energy saving electronics and appliances, and every facet of a sustainable lifestyle, see Mindy's book, Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices (St Martin's Press, 2010).

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