09/29/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Green Grilling Guide

Grilling is ready for a green makeover. Consider greening your grilling routine for this Labor Day weekend by choosing the most eco-friendly grill, facing the myriad environmental and health concerns, and reducing post-party waste.

Selecting a grill with the lowest environmental impact and fewest health concerns poses a great challenge to the eco-conscious chef.

* Propane produces fewer noxious fumes than traditional charcoal and begins cooking immediately, whereas a charcoal grill takes about a half hour to be ready for cooking.

* Electric grills are more efficient than charcoal-powered grills, and have the added benefit of no actual flame, thereby preventing accidents that can cause fires.

* Solar ovens use only the sun to cook a variety of foods. Best used during the hottest parts of the day, these lightweight devices are especially handy for camping. They function much like a crockpot: simply place the food in the oven, leave for an extended amount of time, and a hot meal is ready upon your return

National Geographic's Green Guide offers suggestions on how to pick the right entree.

Soy burgers and vegetables are healthy grilling choices.

Don't over cook meat. There is now evidence that charred meat contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which according to the National Cancer Institute can increase the risk of colon, pancreatic and breast cancer.

Don't undercook meat. Pathogens like Salmonella, e. coli and Campylobacter can survive even in browned meat. For ground beef and all cuts of pork, cook to 160 degrees F; for beef steaks and chops, 145 F; for poultry thigh and breasts, 170 F and for whole birds, 180 F. Use a thermometer!

Now that the main course is established, serve an array of local vegetables, whether they are from your nearby market, CSA or own backyard.

Round out your menu with lots of seasonal foods.

A visit to your local farmers' market, or a peek into your latest community supported agriculture co-op box is the best way to round out your menu; ingredients, veggies and herbs you'll find there will all be in season, and will come directly from your neck of the woods.

Planet Green offers suggestions to reduce the amount of serviceware used.

This portion of your party can have a bigger impact than you might think; depending on what you're serving, each guest will need at least one plate, cup, and set of flatware, and all that can add up to lots and lots of waste, especially when Uncle Larry forgets which cup was his, and little cousin Susie dumps her plate of onion rings off the deck.

* Choose reusable dishes and utensils

* Pick dishware and flatware with recycled content that can be recycled again


:: Decide whether charcoal or gas grills are more eco-friendly on the Huffington Post
:: Read about direct and indirect green grilling techniques on the Huffington Post
:: More at the Huffington Post Green Living big news page