In the US, we have a number of summer holidays for which celebrating by having an outdoor barbecue is standard operating procedure. Independence day, Memorial Day and Labor Day to name a few, keep the demand for grill-related products and outdoor furniture high.
Outdoor grilling is not only an American pastime, but extremely popular around the globe. This is no surprise considering outdoors is where cooking began. In many third world countries, outside is still the ONLY place cooking is done.
For the western world, it’s become mostly a warm weather phenomenon. We enjoy communing with both our friends and nature. Summer gatherings that include food cooked on a grill are a great excuse to do both.
Aside from the traditional social aspects of the outdoor barbecue gathering, food cooked on an open grill has its own special flavor and appeal. Whether it’s more the open air cooking or the open air eating, the food cooked on an outdoor grill seems to taste better.
The most commonly used fuels of the modern day outdoor barbecue have traditionally been charcoal and wood. Although food cooked over wood and charcoal flames tastes good, these two fuel sources produce air pollution in the form of hydrocarbons and micro soot particles which are released into the atmosphere.
Most people associate electric grills with something akin to a table top hibachi. But the truth is that electric grills are at least as sophisticated and functional as their charcoal and gas cousins. Most of the modern electrics are feature rich with added benefits such as built-in rotisseries and removeable drip pans.
And when it comes to the environment, they are second to none. An electric grill used either in or out of doors, in fact, produces no direct carbon dioxide unlike flame grills. And unlike the previous generation of electric grills, modern electric grills produce strong, even radiant heat adequate to cook virtually any type of food to perfection.
Charcoal grills, in particular, not only harm the environment, but pose health risks as well. Meat cooked over charcoal produces two compounds which are known carcinogens. HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) occur in increased amounts the longer the food is cooked and the hotter the coals. These cancer-causing compounds are carried in the smoke that results when meat fat drips on hot coals. It gets on the food and is also usually breathed in directly by anyone near the grill.
Electric grills give off no direct combustion gases, which means your health and the health of your family and friends is not compromised by their use.
In a time when the debate about the causes and effects of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere is near the top of the world agenda, each of us doing what we can to lessen our individual carbon footprint is important. It’s true that natural gas and propane are cleaner burning fuels, but electric grills are in a league of their own.
If you’ve never tried it, give electric grilling a go. You may be surprised at how efficiently and evenly the food cooks. And you’ll appreciate the simplicity of simply twisting a dial to turn up the heat.