Its almost (gag, cough) barbecue season...

Photo by Rick Browne, Grill "Master of the Universe"

Ah, Spring is here and it is time to get out the barbie, lock up the vegans and throw on a steak. Not good for the heart, but how is it for the environment? In the US, 63% of backyard BBQ's are fired with briquettes, manufactured by cooking waste timber, sawdust and whatever else in near-airless conditions for a week, mix cornstarch to bind and lighter fluid to start easily, press into moulds and bake some more. Result: 105 times more carbon monoxide than burning propane and lots of harmful VOC's. However propane is a fossil fuel and a net contributor to atmospheric CO2 levels. Real charcoal is said to be "carbon neutral" but much is shipped from abroad (at least to the UK where this article is sourced) so the Guardian suggests locally made charcoal culled from thinnings and fallen trees and making it traditionally, the old english art of "coppicing" -harvesting fuel from trees without destroying them. There are a number of UK sources including the green empire at Bioregional . In the States, we found the ::Cowboy Charcoal Company. Read more in ::the Guardian although just writing this makes us want to run off to the local Raw Food Bar.