To Grill or Not to Grill – Rather, Which One?
By Deborah DeMoulpied
The northern hemisphere’s CO2 appears to be officially now over 400 parts million. Last month Science magazine went into gory detail about the 6th extinction and how species loss is happening 1,000 times faster than previous mass extinctions. Both of these events are human-caused. The good news is, humans can still make a difference — if we act.
So back to basics – reducing our carbon footprint.
It’s summer time, which means outdoors activities, from yard work to grilling. Many activities can be modified to reduce energy use. Here are some things to think about (and act upon) during the coming months:
- Do an annual tune-up on all of your equipment, replace filters and sharpen blades so everything works most efficiently, thereby reducing emissions.
- Use the right tools and equipment for the job – don’t overkill! Do you really need a riding lawn mower for a small lawn?
- Do you even need a lawn? Swap a lawn for natural growth that needs less mowing, or turn the land into garden beds or fruit trees.
- Plant slow-growth grass. Use a long cut when mowing.
- Use hand tools instead of gas or electric tools. Do you really need a leaf blower?
- Reduce or eliminate chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- Collect rain water, and use it.
- If you must grill, a gas grill produces half the carbon as charcoal. However, charcoal is from renewable resources. But over all, gas grills win.
Keep in mind, any type of grilling has a much larger carbon footprint than cooking indoors. In addition, the residue and chemicals produced during the grilling process are not healthful. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are associated with cancers, particularly colon cancer. HCAs are formed from proteins (any food burned from broiling, oven or pan-frying) and PAHs are from the smoke created from dripping juices. Those yummy charcoal bits are just not good for you no matter how you cook it. If you must grill, keep the heat low, avoid burning and grill more vegetables.
Deborah DeMoulpied is owner and founder of Bona Fide Green Goods, an earth-friendly department store in Concord, NH. Bonafidegreengoods.com won the Webby Awards Green Honoree in 2011. Deborah is also faculty of the Anticancer Lifestyle Program, teaching patients about environmental toxins and healthful solutions.