August 31, 2007

summer grilling

I've been meaning to do a post about backyard grilling all summer. Uh, how did it get to be Labor Day already? Since Labor Day is still a very popular time to grill I'll go ahead and post this info.

According to the Green Guide, there are drawbacks to all grilling methods but also ways to make all of them more eco-friendly. "Even though they use non-renewable fossil fuels, gas grills burn cleaner than charcoal, and electric grills emit less carbon monoxide . . . than either charcoal or gas. Charcoal fanatics can use briquettes that don't contain fillers such as coal dust, starch, sodium nitrate, limestone and borax. "

They have good information on various types of grilling methods. In a nutshell, if you like using charcoal (which I believe is a key difference between "grilling" and "barbecuing") it might be good to switch to a product like Cowboy Charcoal (also sold as the 365 brand at Whole Foods). This is a "low-smoke charcoal out of untreated maple and oak scraps from furniture and flooring plants." Also, try not to use lighter fluid or self-starter briquettes which contain petrochemicals.

Experts seem to say that gas and electric grills are a little better for the environment. The Sierra Club says, "Three out of four U.S. households own at least one barbecue grill. Among grill owners, 48 percent fire up with charcoal, 61 percent with propane, and 7 percent with electricity." They suggest that while your little bbq may not be such a problem, the combined effect of everyone grilling starts to add up. That said, the damage done from backyard grills likely pales in comparison to other types of pollution. But it is something simple we can be mindful of and make green adjustments without spoiling our holiday fun.

I still love my Weber. I use charcoal, but I did switch to the 365 brand and am happy with it. Burns a little faster and hotter, but works well. Happy grilling!


Gift of Green said...

I never thought about buying charcoal at Whole Foods. Thanks for the tip (again!).

jenmaree said...

We are definite "grillers" at our house. Thank you for sharing the tips you found!! I will also check out the 365 brand of charcoal!

Anonymous said...

So I never realized there was a difference between barbeque-ing and grilling. Where I'm from (Chicago area), when we used our grill (and the only kind I can remember from childhood were charcoal), we called it a cookout or cooking out. When I moved to California, as an adult, I was always a bit confused by the constant references to BBQ, since for me, that implied your standard BBQ sauce. So I'd be surprised when the meal was actually hot dogs and burgers. Everyone thought I was a real country bumpkin when I mentioned the term "cook out".

mom go green said...

hi renee,

the terminology is pretty fussy, isn't it? i learned a bunch while researching. here are some things i read in a good overview article:

- Grilling is fast cooking over high heat, while barbecuing involves a slower cooking method, over a lower heat.

- Grilling is generally done over a gas flame, or hot coals.

- Barbecuing is typically done over charcoal or wood, although gas can be used.

I suggest reading the article at the link below, as it talks more in depth about which types of meat and recipes are suited to which method.

I personally like the charcoal because it imparts a much smokier flavor than plain grilling.

article reference is here:

Debbie said...

I found the Cowboy brand today at Trader Joe's and got a bag for our "chef" (aka Master Griller) to try -- we love the charcoal grill, too, and aren't ready to go back to propane. I think they also sell it (the Cowboy brand) at Lowe's, of all places. Thanks!

shanna said...

We've been using Cowboy Hardwood (bought at Trader Joe's) and/or 365 brand hardwood charcoal all summer. (Weber grill was my Mother's Day gift!) At first we were mixing it with Matchlight and later standard briquettes, but when we finally figured out that we needed a chimney starter, we switched over to hardwood-only and haven't looked back.

Propane just isn't an option for us right now, plus the main reason we grill and BBQ is for the smoky flavor.