The impact grilling has on the world around us is not huge, compared to things like heating and cooling our homes and transportation. However, it is one thing we can easily control, and in some areas, such as Houston, grilling does contribute measurably to air pollution. If you make a few changes to your grilling techniques and habits, you can make a little bit of a difference while still enjoying cooking outdoors. Here are a few tips to help.
First, try to avoid self-lighting charcoal and lighter fluid. Both are made from petrochemicals, which can be toxic on your food and are not great for the atmosphere. Electric charcoal starters or a simple charcoal chimney is a much better way to get the fire going. They may take a little while longer, but it is worth being patient.
Use good charcoal. There are plenty of briquettes and lumps that are made from waste wood and sustainable harvested wood, keeping you from ingesting the binders and additives that usually go into standard charcoal briquettes. You will have a better time grilling and pollute less with a higher quality charcoal.
Consider using natural gas grills instead of charcoal or propane if you are not deeply invested in that smoky taste. They are much cleaner and a lot more energy efficient. In the long run, they are also a lot cheaper.
Keep preheating times down. The majority of gas grills are ready in five to ten minutes, while charcoal can be ready to go in fifteen to twenty. Plan your cooking so you will be ready to cook when your grill is, and do not leave the grill burning longer than necessary.
Once you are done, clean your grill while it is still hot. Then, allow it to cool and use baking soda and water to get the grates completely clean. The grill should be completely cleaned out regularly, since food particles and grease can cause unpleasant smoke. Remember to get any drip pans, too.
Skip the disposables. Washing a few dishes is not so hard, especially if you plan with care, and getting rid of plastic forks and paper plates can be a real nuisance, as well as an environmental problem.
Choose the highest quality grill you can. Many grills are not made to last, and if you get one of these, you will soon be replacing it. Choose a grill that will stay with you for years to come and provide good performance, so you will not have to get a new one any time soon. It may cost a little more now, but it is worth it in the long run.
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