July 4th Grilling

Vegetables on the GrillThe July 4th weekend is a big one for grilling. There’s nothing like getting the family or a group of friends together, playing ball with the kids, and grilling up some grub.

But grilling also has its problems, environmentally speaking. All that heat produced at the same time and particulate matter thrown into the air can actually raise the temperatures of cities on that day. Charcoal is often produced unsustainably. Lighter fluid, instant-light charcoal briquettes (which are only partly charcoal), factory-farmed beef โ€“ all these things contribute to a less than green grilling experience.

Grilling has several appealing features besides the tasty food. Cleanup is easier. No pots and pans to wash, and since many barbecued foods are finger foods, fewer plates and utensils to wash. Cooking outdoors keeps the heat out of the kitchen, lowering air conditioning bills.

Gas and electric grills are the greenest options, using less energy and producing fewer greenhouse gases than charcoal. But many people wouldn’t consider food grilled without the smoky flavor that charcoal provides. Try looking for eco-friendly charcoal. And skip the self-lighting briquettes. Those make the food taste like it’s also self-lighting.

Ultimately, all actions have environmental consequences. But it is possible to enjoy your tasty barbecue while minimizing your impact on the environment.

For a few grilling recipes, try these ideas:

All-Star Veggie Kabobs (with an awesome marinade)
Vegan Black Bean Burgers
Halloumi Cheese — Three Ways (for an interesting change)

Creative Commons photo courtesy of passer-by

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