Follow this ‘green’ grilling guide for better barbecues
Let’s close the season with a clean and green grilling philosophy that you can carry over to the next eco-friendly summer.
Gas it upChoose propane over charcoal for multiple reasons – the former produces half the emissions of its carbon cousin, and burns cleanly, which translates to less smoke in the air and your eyes. Once finished with your propane tank, most vendors give a trade-in fee toward your next purchase, and even recycle the old one. If you are a diehard charc-oholic, buy products with no additives, harvested from sustainable forests, and if possible do organic or natural lump charcoal.
Passing taste and drug testsFree-range chicken does not mean drug-free. Make sure your birds are hormone- and antibiotic-free, and are fed a vegetarian diet without animal by-products. And if you must grill beef, it’s not only good enough to be organic, it must also be grass-fed. Organic cows could still be grain-fed, that raises the acidic levels in their rumens (stomachs), producing an environment where dangerous, acid-resistant E. coli can flourish. We know all about that infamous foe when passed to a human.
Honey, I shrunk our carbon footprintTry the best of both worlds – local and organic. Fruits and veggies get jet-lag, too. Scope out farmers markets, co-ops and health-oriented markets that support area farmers.
Burnt offeringsMeats, fish, even veggies should be prepared like baby bear’s porridge – just right. No Cajun-blackened, charred or blistering skins, please. While they may taste good, they’ve been found to be carcinogenic.
Recycle, re-useDepending upon what your city permits, recycle the works from cans, cardboard and bottles to plastic and foil. Where possible, use reusable plates, cutlery and cups, and cloth napkins. If you must do throwaways, at least buy biodegradable or sustainable products made from bamboo and other natural products.
Bigger is betterWhen hosting a crowd, it’s best to buy in bulk for your staples like drinks, snacks and condiments to pare down on packaging waste.
Grime timeClean your grill when it’s still hot. Make a paste combining 1/4 cup each of baking soda and water, and scrub with a wire brush. Wipe it down with a wet cloth, then fire it up again to burn off any residue. I also use assorted stainless steel mesh pans to go on top of the grill to keep it clean, and stop small food items (like shrimp and veggies) from falling through the slits and feeding the fire.
For your Labor Day shindig try a burger bash and make a healthy smorgasbord – lamburgers, chicken patties, salmon and crab cakes, and these amazing, eco-friendly, wild caught mahi mahi burgers. You won’t have to fish for compliments!
Ingredients1 pound of mahi mahi fillets, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons of wasabi or lemon mayonnaise
¼ cup of scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove minced
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons each of canola and sesame oil
MethodIn a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the oils, and pulse until finely chopped. Form into four patties and chill for 2 hours or freeze for 25 minutes.
Combine the oils and brush on the grill. Cook about 4 minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked. Serve with toasted sesame buns, butter lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, and extra hoisin sauce or mayo.
* For other green ideas or recipes, send an e-mail me to