Environmentally-Friendly Camp-side Cooking
Nothing says ‘American camping trip’ quite like a barbeque under the stars. Science can’t precisely predict when humans first cooked on fire but a fascinating scholastic theory exists that it was the most critical point in human evolution, dating back more than a million years. With an increased desire to become environmentally responsible, we are constantly seeking out ways to minimize our impact on the planet. Even when camping, and especially when cooking outdoors, we need to ensure that no harm is caused to the environment and that we leave the area exactly as how we found it.
Tips for environmentally-friendly outdoor cooking
When we are camping we use fire for two reasons: to stay warm at night while outdoors and to cook our food on. The question is often asked which is greener? Charcoal or gas? While natural gas and its by-product, propane, are both non-renewable sources charcoal is almost pure carbon, boasting almost 3 times the carbon footprint of propane. Although it is more than a decade ago, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory calculated that on July 4, 2003 alone, Americans burned the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest.
If you insist on grilling over a coal fire there are ways you can reduce the footprint. The more insulated and airtight your grill is, the more efficient will it burn. Aim to use only charcoal that is all natural – avoiding those infused with harmful petrochemical starters. If you do opt for charcoal make sure you discard of all packaging off-site. By choosing a eco-friendly natural-gas or solar grill over a charcoal-powered one you will ensure the least possible impact on your surrounding environment.
Grab grass-fed, organic beef and slice it thin
If you are able to take meat along on your camping trip make sure you choose grass-fed organic beef. Grass-fed means less water pollution, happier animals, less energy inputs and healthier soil due to proper organic pasturing. Ask your local farmer or butcher for organic beef or, alternatively, join a meat CSA. Producing a single pound of beef requires an astonishing 1,800 gallons of water, underlining the need for humans to consume less of it. Eating red meat in moderation will benefit the earth tremendously by conserving her water supplies. Try cooking cuts such as short rib that is meant to be eaten along with equal-sized bites of carbs and starch. Or, when you really can’t resist, indulge a Texan steak; opt for a smaller piece, and cut it into thinner slices. You can also choose chicken, fish or delicious vegetarian options.
While the grill is cooling and everyone has retired to their tents for the night. It is now time to gather the garbage and call it a day. As an educated consumer you would have made use of organic plates, napkins, cups and cutlery. The reward for your responsible behaviour is minimal trash and a clear conscience knowing that no harm was done to the environment and that you helped preserve the planet for generations to come.
This article was written by Jenny Doyle