This Memorial Day weekend, make your cookout eco-correct. How? It’s easy….
Think outside the burgers/hot dogs/potato chips box and focus on healthier options instead – turkey tips, wild fish, grilled tofu, grilled veggies, grass-fed beef, free range chicken, sweet potato chips and lots of different salads made with organic fruits and vegetables. Farmer’s markets aren’t up and running yet, but you can still buy fresh, seasonal, and somewhat local fruits and vegetables. Perhaps you have lettuce ready for harvesting from your own garden. Add delicious and nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn!
When it comes to grilling, a charcoal chimney is an easy way to start your grill and much safer than lighter fluid if you don’t have a gas grill. Make sure you use natural, hardwood charcoal instead of the conventional briquettes. Try filling at least half your grill with produce. Produce is not only healthy and low-calorie, but also doesn’t produce the carcinogens that can form on grilled meats. Always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring; flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens. Marinating or basting with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce will provide a barrier and help prevent charring.
I prefer reusable dinner plates and utensils, but if you are having a crowd disposable is easier; just make sure they are compostable or made from recycled, BPA-free plastic. Whole Foods carries a good selection of biodegradable disposable plates, cups and utensils. Cloth tablecloths and napkins are a nice touch, but you can easily find recycled paper napkins and cloths at most supermarkets.
Organic, chemical free sunscreen and insect repellents are a much healthier and safer alternative to conventional products. Consider spraying your yard in advance with a garlic spray to ward off mosquitoes. Start your cookout after peak sun time, between 10 and 2, and provide shade for your guests.
Organize activities to get your guests moving and not eating and drinking so much. If your cookout is near the water, swimming and kayaking are fun. If not, set up a volleyball/badminton net and get the teens involved in a tournament. Croquet appeals to all ages and a nature walk or an outside scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids interested in the outdoors.
Compost leftover fruits and vegetables, and, don’t forget to recycle cans, bottles and other recyclable items!
Whatever you do to honor the start of summer, make sure you are good to the earth.