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Greener grilling: Good for you and for Mother Nature, too

Greener grilling: Good for you and for Mother Nature, too


You already know grilling is a healthful, flavorful and fun way to cook while enjoying the great outdoors. But did you know it can also be a “green” activity?

By choosing earth-friendly fuel options, better ingredients and sustainably sourced seasonings, you can satisfy your family’s taste buds and Mother Nature with these greener grilling tips:

  • Grilling with charcoal briquettes imparts a wonderful flavor to foods, but many cooks resort to a squirt (or several) of lighter fluid to get the coals burning faster. Forego the lighter fluid and invest in a charcoal chimney – a metal cylinder that makes it easy to get charcoal started. Briquettes go on the grate atop the chimney and newspaper goes at the bottom. When you light the paper, the chimney effect of the tube lights the charcoal from the bottom quickly and easily.
  • Many people use disposable dinnerware for outdoor dining. While it may be convenient to not have to wash those dishes, reusable dinnerware and table linens are better for the environment and cheaper in the long term. Plus, cloth napkins and real plates impart a special charm to dining al fresco.
  • This summer, why not try meat and poultry from free-range or grass-fed animals, rather than factory farmed? Better yet, select meat from a local farmer, buy organic or go vegan or vegetarian. Firm tofu, Portobello mushrooms and even polenta are healthy and trendy alternatives to meat. Such options reduce the environmental impact of your meal, and they often taste much better!
  • Seasonings are a great way to add flavor without fat to your grilled meats and vegetables. When you choose sustainably sourced spices and herbs from purveyors like Frontier Natural Co-op, you’re not only getting outstanding flavor, but you can be assured the seasonings have been produced using practices that are better for the environment, too.
  • When purchasing produce, look for local options. Locally grown veggies and fruits travel a shorter distance to make it to your grill, meaning less fossil fuel is consumed overall. 
  • You can conserve resources without skimping on flavor if you make marinades using whole spices that you’ve pan roasted and freshly cracked before blending. Flavored and artisan black pepper corns, salts and sugars are trendy right now. You can also incorporate artisan vinegars, fine drinking wines and unusual beers into your marinades to create unique and pleasing flavors.

Do you love adding smoke to your grilling? Rather than buying pre-soaked planks or pre-processed briquettes, try smoking by soaking whole herbs, spices and tea leaves in water then throwing them on the hot coals to create unusually flavored smoke blends that go far beyond basic mesquite and hickory.

To get you started, try this blackening spice recipe from Frontier Natural Co-op:

Paprika, Garlic and Thyme Barbecue Rub

Rubs are key to a flavorful barbecue. Season your meat one hour before cooking for grilled items, and a day ahead for smoked meats. This recipe works especially well for ribs, but it’s good on almost anything you’d want to barbecue or grill, such as chicken, turkey, steaks, burgers, firm fish or shrimp. For fish dishes, consider adding a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1/2 cup


  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Frontier paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Frontier sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Frontier ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Frontier garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Frontier thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Frontier cayenne (or to taste, may be omitted)


Mix together all ingredients. Rub into chosen cut of meat. For best results, allow to marinate one hour to overnight before grilling.