Nothing titillates, tantalises and teases the olfactory sense of felicitation more than the aromatic wafting odours from a summertime barbecue. Rekindling ourselves with an epoch in our evolutionary path when we congregated around a flickering flame while taking in the fragrant scents of the beast du jour.
However, the outdoor gathering can be as grotesque to environmental good will as any other form of carbon burning pursuit. This is problematic here in Australasia where our enchantment with grilling and dining al fresco makes us some of the guiltiest bbq badies on the planet. So why don’t we just go electric when it comes to toasting our patties and snarlers (sausages)?
Ask any carne aficionado to go electric and you surely will be severely tut tutted with an extraordinarily energetic index finger. A significant reason why we bbq is due to the heightened arousal which we receive from the endorphins bouncing around our grey matter when me mentally think of the unique flavour infused into a chargrilled piece of flesh. To cook on an electric hot plate would be like putting the kitchen hob on coasters and rolling it to the patio or the verandah. How very unromantic and disenchanting.
So how can one be ethical when postulating over how to be moral but still enjoy a good old fashioned bbq? Yes it is possible and approaching it can be achieved at a number of Greeny levels.
Obviously great debate rages over the stoking of the Barbie. The typical mug will stipulate with dignified self-assurance that gas triumphs every time. While not entirely clear cut or accurate, I do profess to being on the gas side even though I have a deep passion for the divine art of traditional smoking and grilling practices.
If you wish to be a Green Guru about your “barbi-etiquette” and sleep easy at night, natural gas will afford you environmental greater peace of mind. Justifiably, gas is a non-renewable but if one factors the greater duration required to chargrill your side of porterhouse your gas consumption should be respectfully briefer on the stopwatch scale.
Time asides, the briquettes critical to igniting an old school coal bbq also have their other down flaws. In the time which you are restlessly waiting for your hunger pangs to be saved the carbon monoxide emissions which you will be emitting will be horrendous as opposed to those output by your gas equivalent. At the same time, if you go with the briquettes option be aware that you may be falling into the category of playing the devil’s advocate. This is because many of these blocks have travelled from emerging economies and the chances of the blocks being composed of rainforest hardwood material will probably be statistically a certainty.
Our bbqs should not come at the cost of the world’s last remaining lungs and the most important habitats for a diverse assortment of plant and animal biodiversity. Not to mention the livelihoods of the indigenous tribes for whom these natural realms sustain.
At the same time, we must turn to our own health and wellbeing when disavowing the dangers of enjoying a smoke infused feed. Scientific research is producing ever more in depth data which solidifies the reasons why we should tread with care when it comes to our carbon craving bbq infatuations and endeavours to keep doing what our ancient ancestors adored doing.
The briquettes, for starters, which we use to cook our food are often covered in a fire-starting fluid which has the potential to seriously taint our food. While one can buy bricks which are slower and cleaner burning and are far less environmentally brutal, the carboniferous cancer inducing perils which occur when large volumes of carbon are either ingested or inhaled rise substantially when we pick traditional coal, brick or wood stoked barbecuing over more modern methods.
Of course, if one feels really enterprising and committed to the cause, some interesting alternative bbq substitutes include going solar ethanol, or going indigenous and having a pit barbecue. For convenience, cost and practicalities sake, I shall assume that these options are just too extreme for the majority of people reading here. Though they are thought provoking. So, in spite of my clandestine love for doing it the historically old fashioned way, based on its carcinogenically deadly nature along with its eco inconsiderateness, I will entreat you to my reasons for why you should go almost any other direction than down this dirty and potentially deadly cul de sac.
The wisest principle concession is to not rush the cooking process and to bbq with time on your side. It may seem oxymoronic but when one cooks slow and pays attention to how the cuts are being grilled the greater the carbon reduction hazard is reduced. Obviously, meat that is overly cooked should not be the object of any bbquing wizard or pro. The gentle slow cooking of meats over indirect heat will greatly lift ones results while ensuring ones’ sustained wellbeing.
Marinating meats is a wise approach to further decreasing the cindering and over scorching of meats provided that the marinade is not left to be transformed into black ash itself unfit for human consumption. Scientists also believe that pre-heating meat in a microwave before will fast track the cooking process and lead to less time on the grill significantly reducing the carcinogenic risk rate.
To avoid flare ups and to sizeably decrease the spread of nasty noxious toxic chemicals all over your food, you may even wish to trim the fat away from your pork chop or peel off the skin from your chicken cutlets. It may seem like a sin unto itself but your heart will thank you for this courageous sacrifice with many palpitations of gratitude in your lengthened life period here on Earth. Perhaps above all other tid bits is the critical matter of ensuring the cleanliness of your cooking surface.
Take every effort to avoid fatty meats like sausages, patties, ribs and black puddings. When food is burned, these chemicals mount up which is not good news for you and your health. So remove all charred or burned bits before eating even again if this seems wasteful.
Turning meat regularly at a lower temperature will assuredly help prevent charring as will the use of a thermometer. So ask your butcher what is the optimal temperature to cook your chops, steaks and kebabs. It’s their job to be in the know on these matters and you may even pick up a useful piece of advice which you previously never knew. It may be something as simple as the different temperatures and times required to bbq the perfect chicken Kiev as opposed to a moist beef olive. So go on and be courageous and pluck up the nerve to pick at their brains. I’m sure they will be flattered by it all.
Green side dishes, especially cruciferous ones such as the dreaded broccoli, are superfoods which every grill lover should have to companion and compliment their meal. This is because they contain large traces of essential anti-inflammatory nutrients isothiocyanates which modify the manner in which our digestive system breaks down dangerous chemicals which normally accompany the bbquing process. This is a splendid approach to improving the odds of staying a carnivore while enjoying eating grilled meats.
Above all, remember the rule of thumb that “if it’s well done it’s probably overdone”. It’s important to record that overcooked meat carries no-good chemicals and can contribute to a number of future health problems. So teach yourself the Art of cooking the Salubrious Steak and don’t chance your health equilibrium with burnt or for that matter raw meat.
Teaching young ones how to barbie smart is a great approach to also instructing them to appreciate health by not allowing them to ever accept overly burnt food. For instance, once something IS cooked, don’t just leave it to get even more smoked. Offer it to a famished guest or put it in the microwave while you BBQ on. Always plan to cook to accommodate and don’t ever try juggle cooking everything at once for everybody (especially if you are entertaining for a large gathering). Ensure that your guests understand and keep them satiated and satisfied with some finger food. Once its ready its ready so don’t be too greedy just go ahead and enjoy it.
Another great idea when it comes to meat is to mix it up. Red meat naturally is a superb source for protein and amino acid, but it is not good to over indulge excessively on it as a high cholesterol and fatty diet increases the risks of getting cardiovascular diseases. To moderate the risks while maximising the benefits why not incorporate some white poultry/meat like chicken, turkey, pork or fish into your barbieing dietary intake. better still give fish including trout, salmon cod and tuna and delicious grilling whirl once in a while and avoid or reduce processed meat such as sausage mince, luncheon and bacon to a few rashers or a portion equivalent to the palm of your hand (and NO grander). Always strive to choose fibrous meat over fatty morsels as they are not only better for you and your heart but are also far more filling. You can always intensify the cuts flavour with fresh spices from the garden or homemade salsas.
If you are at the highest point of the moral pyramid you will realise that life without meat can still be satisfying. It is not my position to play on your conscious when it comes to the often brutal nature of our animal for meat rearing industries. I certainly do not wish to be one of those ‘Kill Joys’ that you meet on the daily but the point still needs to be made. Can you comfortably live with the choice that you ate an animal whose existence was unbearably cruel to say the least? If you can, make every endeavour to buy ethically farmed products. Animals are sentient beings and even farmed ones deserve humane compass before they reach us and our deep appetites.
If you can wilfully muster up the conviction leave the meat! Zucchinis, portobello mushrooms and other delicious vegetables can easily fill the meat void with all the added health pros. Saying aurevoir to meat in your meals is the definitive answer to avoiding all those harmful chemicals which can jeopardise your wellbeing further on the life trail.
To end, the host should also learn how to ply the trade of being “barbie-conscientious” when it comes to being eco and good health friendly. An important note to take is to make sure that whilst you are grilling, you or somebody is also monitoring for rogue flames that can cause fires. Also these additional flickers are an affirmation that you are using too high a temperature burning your meat and augmenting your health adversities. You definitely don’t want any of the above to contend with.
Additionally, try to the keep drip tray and the machine clean to avoid the risk of attracting vermin and pests from settling in your neighbourhood. At the same time, a crisp clean bbq device will reduce the need to use noxious chemicals to deal with problems which benefits not only you and the neighbours but ultimately the environment. For nuisances such as mosquitoes, use eco endorsed citronella candles and insect proof panels if eating indoors on a sizzling day.
If you do your chomping outdoors you can lift your gracious status as a gentleman or lady by containing the fanfare and trumpeting of your vociferous invitees by urging them to display some decorum and manners. Noise pollution, while something we are told to shut up and deal with in the Beautiful South can facilitate health concerns such as stress, anger, fatigue, sleep deprivation and blood pressure by those having to tolerate the potentially boisterous affair from behind thinly paled fences. Display a degree of courtesy towards your street folk and don’t try and agitate them or drive them nuts with your backyard bbq banquet.
At the same time, urge your guests to have consideration towards parking on the street. Beware of children and of pets and the reserved parks of busy residents or service personnel such as waste collectors. A great way to counter this conflict would be to organise a ride share where people carpool their way down to your back patio bonanza.
One invaluable suggestion is to curtail the alcoholic influence of such a reunion. Alcohol often induces poor conduct and can lead to serious accidents and injuries endured by both the member concerned or by others they may encounter (i.e. in a brawl or car crash). Heavily inebriated guests often overstep social boundaries and can damage the socially therapeutic good willed spirit intended by the affair. So don’t allow the fun to mutate into a fretful fiasco. The homeostasis of positive social diplomacy is reliant on mutual courtesy. Be respectful towards others and if you are intending to incorporate alcohol into your festivity do not encourage people to drink and drive. Arrange for a taxi, a designated sober driver or provide an area for your guest to rest it off.
If dining outside and it’s rather brisk why use an outdoor heater where heat has to constantly be pumped to warm the room. It’s just absolutely absurd as far as logic goes. If it’s cold rug up or employ your common sense and eat inside where it’s likely to be far more accommodating comfort wise.
Lastly, when preparing the setting be eco smart about it. Go to the Thrift or Opportunity Shop and invest in some cheap plates, cups and cutlery instead of using plastics, paper or polystyrene. Or you could serve your meats in breads such as hot dogs, burgers, souvlaki or in pita pockets/wraps. Or if you wish to be fancy and go for the exotic you can go for the eye catching option of serving your barbied up goodies on biodegradable leaf platter. For a Green Themed twist you could alternatively ask your guests to bring their own plate. If you absolutely must rely on the “plastic fantastic” evil option entice people to write their names on the cups to avoid excessive material dumping and have bins labelled with the appropriate recyclable titles on them.
Being a Green Samaritan need not cease whilst one is in a partying spirit. And always avoid buying and stocking up on lots of small bottles and packaging. Buy the large bottle of fizzy pop soda and then apply the eco savviest manner to dispense the bubbles between the guests all while staying a Green Warrior at the same time.
With glorious weather ahead of us we have every right to live it up. And if we can do in an ecobiopsychosocially caring fashion then both we and nature are going to have a healthy happy bumper Summer this 2015/16.
To good clean, green fun, Folks filled with the melodies of Blues, great brews and barbecues. Cheers