I bought a charcoal grill this weekend. In fact, I argued to get one.
The old grill gave up the ghost at the end of last year. We’d had it for seven years, used it a lot, and let it sit in the rain much of the rest of the time. So last fall we moved it out of the backyard, and into the alley, in the hope that someone would steal it, and save us the horror of hauling it to the dump. That part of the plan worked beautifully.
My husband wanted to replace my beloved, rusty, rickety, fire trap with a gas grill: more convenient (true), better built (also true, unless you spend a fortune) and the food tastes just the same. “No, it doesn’t,” I said.
“Of course it does,” he said.
“I don’t care,” I said. “I won’t cook on it. I’ll get a hibachi, and you can cook on the gas grill.” It’s pretty pathetic that the best I could do was the classic ‘I’ll take my ball and go home, then,’ strategy, but after a lot more discussion, I prevailed.
I love it – it’s truly a thing of beauty. Watching K.M. put it together, I started imagining all the pizza I would grill, all the organic vegetables and local poultry I’d smoke this summer, as a part of our new improved sustainable diet. And then, finally, it occurred to me – my shinny new live-fire appliance must have a substantially bigger carbon footprint than any propane grill ever would. I’ve been using lump, hard wood charcoal and a chimney starter for years, rather than the little blocks of chemicals and the can of lighter fluid that were my Dad’s go-to-grilling gear -I still miss that explosive whoosh of flame, but I knew in my heart it didn’t matter. The petroleum product was going to win this matchup, hands down. It took less than three minutes on Google to verify.
Even if I wanted to take it back (I didn’t) it wasn’t an option. K.M. spent a whole afternoon putting it together, after graciously letting me win the argument. And, of course I’d already thrown out the receipt, anyway.
So what am I going to do? Find a source for sustainable wood to burn, to start with, and of course, make sure I don’t build a fire just for burgers. Anytime I light a fire, I need to have a plan to get as much out of the fuel I’m using as I possibly can.
Clearly though, that’s not going to cut it. It’s time to make a totally arbitrary trade-off. And since my reading has me convinced that I need to cut back on dairy, I see some likely candidates.
Three things you can always find in my refrigerator are milk, orange juice, and cheese. The milk has been organic for years, but the rest of the dairy, not so much. I can get organic butter; cheese and ice cream are nearly impossible though. After some research I’ve found a compromise that I hope we can live with: local organic milk, organic orange juice, yogurt and butter. As for cheese, probably my favorite food in all the world, I won’t buy it unless it is produced in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia – and I can verify the milk source is, at least, hormone free. These options will all cost more than their conventional counterparts. So we’ll be eating less dairy, and basking in the glow of my live-fire grill.
Did I mention I’ll have to make all my own ice cream from now on?