Green Grilling

NAEM President

Kelvin Roth

Introducing the Green Tie’s global business travel blogger, NAEM President Kelvin Roth. The globe-trotting Director of Environment, Health & Safety for AMCOL International, Kelvin knows how to turn any business trip into a tasty adventure. So whether your travels take you to Des Moines or Dubai share your stories of far-flung gastronomy and travel with him today!

Now that summer is here, is there any better way of preparing food than grilling?  After all, man invented fire before the microwave because it was tastier. While enjoying the taste of your grilled food, here are few tips to still be a good environmental steward:

Choose a better charcoal: Gas grills are cleaner burning than charcoal, so from a pure “green” standpoint this may be the way to go.  But let’s face it, the flavor you get from grilling over charcoal is much better. I like “lump charcoal,” which comes from invasive tree species or is harvested from sustainably managed forests. It’s also minimally processed, compared with briquettes, which can contain binders. Some good lump charcoal options include brands such as Wicked Good, Nature’s Own Chunk Charwood, and the Original Charcoal Company, which are made from sustainably harvested wood. Lazzari also produces a 100 percent mesquite lump charcoal made from prunings, dead and fallen wood, and selectively harvested wood.

Lose the lighter fluid: Even though it’s fun to use, get rid of the lighter fluid (seriously, do you want your food to taste like that?) and channel your inner “primitive man” – after all isn’t that the whole point of grilling?  Primitive man would get it going with kindling and so should you. If you need help, get a chimney starter.

Get to know your ingredients: Ask yourself, ‘Where’d the beef come from’?: How you grill is only part of the story, the other is what you grill…When choosing your meat, go for fowl who have led a natural, unconfined, beaks-on life, and beef from cattle who not only knew what grass is, but spent most of their lives in a pasture. Not only will you find these to be tastier, but they’re also healthier and better for the environment.  While there are literally hundreds of labels and certifications to guide you, I prefer the direct approach; get to know the farmer who raised the meat.  It cuts through the clutter and gives you the best information about your food.  Plus, you are helping your local economy and that can’t be bad, either. (Tip: To find local, sustainable, organic meat, dairy and produce from nearby farmers markets, butchers, farmers, stores and restaurants, type in your zip code at the Eat Well Guide site of Sustainable Table.)

I know grilling is all about the meat, but don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to time.  Visit your local farmers market and grab some of the freshest, seasonal vegetables and throw them on the grill.  Is there anything better than in-season grilled asparagus or sweet corn?  Go nuts and grill some fruit up too – it’s a tasty accompaniment for your meal.

Enjoy your guilt-free grilling!

About Kelvin Roth

Kelvin Roth is Past President of the NAEM Board of Directors. Follow him on Twitter at @Oenodog.

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  1. just-jenn

    June 1, 2010

    Thanks for the helpful grilling tips. I’d be interested to know how you know of the local meat and veggies when dining in other countries.

  2. Margery Moore

    June 1, 2010

    Thank you, Kelvin! In addition to asking where did the beef come from and choosing local meats, also try vegetarian options like the following – my favorites. Cutting back just a little on meat goes a long way to helping the planet.

    Margery’s fav’s:
    – Stuffed portobello mushrooms with black/green olive tapenade grilled on away from direct heat for 15 minutes, approx.
    – Chunks of smoked tofu, onion and mushrooms marinated in your favorite sauce, skewered and then grilled! Remember to soak the wood skewers first!!

    • Stephen Evanoff

      June 1, 2010


      Thanks for a very informative set of tips conveyed with good humor.

      When will we learn about environmentally-friendly wine pairings?

  3. Matt Airhart

    June 2, 2010

    Great piece Kelvin! Time to pull the Weber out of the shed and go find a grass fed steak and two pieces of sustainably fished salmon!

  4. Rebecca Sternberg

    June 4, 2010

    Great fun piece Kelvin! Thanks for raising the ‘elephant in the environmental room’ on sustainability raised meat. Agreed with the other respondent that vegetarian options are great eco-friendly and tasty options too. And having a meal without meat every once in a while never killed anyone!

    Personally, my favorite thing to grill is sliced pineapple. Really brings out the sweetness in the fruit.

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