It’s that time of year when everyone can enjoy a meal outdoors. Yet those delicious barbecue meals can be enormously taxing on the environment if we aren’t paying attention. As we break out the grill and start preparing our favorite marinades, let’s also use these eco-friendly grilling tips.
Eco-friendly grilling is not only about the ingredients in our meals and sides, but it is also about the way we shop, prepare, and cook our food. These eco-friendly grilling tips are sure to make your meal a bit greener.
Your Meals Will Be Greener with Our Eco-Friendly Grilling Tips
Before You Start
If you have a grill that uses charcoal, look for natural and organic brands. Did you know that you should also check where your charcoal was sourced? Locally sourced charcoal harvested from sustainably managed forests helps to reduce the deforestation occurring in tropical habitats. So if you see two brands of charcoal in the store, choose the one that is locally harvested. (By the way, if you don’t have a charcoal grill, don’t buy one. There are substantially more eco-friendly alternatives in the marketplace.)
Purchasing local organic foods minimizes the environmental impact of transporting foods.
And as much good as you can do from buying locally grown food, you can do even more good by eliminating beef and opting for fish or vegetarian options instead. The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains, and ships combined. Meat production creates an enormous amount of carbon waste. Experts believe that changing the world’s appetite for meat could help save the earth from the devastation caused by climate change. Plan your meal to have more vegetables and less meat.
If you absolutely must eat red meat, look for animals that are treated humanely and fed organically. Buy grass fed, organic meats with no added nitrates. The same goes for hot dogs, whether they are made from beef or turkey (though turkey is preferable). Look for brands that are grass fed, organic, preservative-free, and nitrate-free.
If your grill needs to be cleaned before use, prepare it by brushing the grate with oil and then wiping it down thoroughly with a cloth. This should also help to prevent food from sticking to the grill.
Avoid over preheating the grill to reduce unnecessary energy waste. Read the instructions for your grill, as heating times may vary from one model to another. Yet most grills only take a few minutes to warm up.
Of course, serve and eat on reusable plates, cups, and trays rather than paper or plastic goods. If you absolutely must use disposable items, look for biodegradable options.
Keep your grill below 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190.5 degrees Celsius). Not only does this reduce energy use, eating charred or burned meat increases the risk of developing cancer. Take special care when cooking grass-fed beef, as it tend to be leaner and therefore more sensitive to overcooking.
Keep the skin on your grilled vegetables and fruits because the skins provide fiber and nutrients. More fiber will make you feel more full, meaning that you’ll need to purchase less food.
After Your Meal
If your grill takes charcoal, let it cool after use and store it safely so that it can be used again.
Use a grill cleaner made from pure, natural ingredients without any toxins or chemicals to scrub down your grill.
Speaking of cleaning your grill, be sure to do it regularly as a cleaner grill means less smoke and air pollution when in use.
If you have organic scraps from your meal preparation, compost them! Composting is a terrific way to reduce waste and put nutrients back into the earth.
In addition to eco-friendly grilling, if you feel so inclined you can offset your carbon footprint by donating credits to eco-friendly projects through organizations such as TerraPass and the Nature Conservancy.
Grill well, friends!
Jessica Cohen is a health coach, a greener living enthusiast, and an advocate of social good. On her website, EatSleepBe.com, she provides tips for being kinder to yourself, to others, and to the planet. Additionally, Jessica enjoys consulting with like-minded companies to create site concepts, develop editorial and social media calendars, ghost write, publish press releases, and run successful outreach campaigns. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram at EatSleepBe.
What are your summer grilling tips? Share below or on Facebook and Twitter.