Green Summer: Charcoal Barbecue

| 6/24/2009 10:03:41 AM

Meat doesn’t rate high on my list of favorite foods, but I make an exception for barbecue. There’s something pleasant and a little nostalgic about gathering together good friends on a humid summer evening and lighting up the grill. Barbecuing is a staple of summer, but like many of our favorite activities, it could stand to be greened.

Fueling the flames

Although there’s something rustic and appealing about using a charcoal barbecue grill, propane will burn cleaner than coals. Charcoal releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air when burned, emitting 100 times more CO2 than propane. Lighter fluids will worsen the effect of burning charcoal and can contribute to smog. If you already have a charcoal barbecue griller, however, save some green (cash that is) and invest in eco-friendly coals.

Wicked Good Charcoal makes 100 percent natural charcoal barbecue briquettes from five types of FSC-certified Brazilian wood that are held together with cornstarch. They produce less ash than normal charcoal barbecue briquettes and you can reuse them.

Cowboy Charcoal’s natural lump charcoal is made from wood-mill scraps in an environmentally compatible, non-polluting wood-retort plant. Cowboy Charcoal is available at Lowe’s and Whole Foods.

Greenlink offers two types of charcoal barbecue briquettes: one made from waste coconut shells and one from natural wood. Both types of charcoal barbecue briquettes use a natural food grade binder. Greenlink’s charcoals come in the traditional “pillow” coals as well as charcoal barbecue logs.