• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of August 20, 1999

This week, facts about... that American summertime tradition, the bar-be-que.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Though many Americans use them year-round, summer is prime time for back yard grills. More than three quarters of American households now own a barbecue, and together will light up about 3 billion times this year, twice as much as a decade ago. In the US, barbecuing got a boost in 1920, when Henry Ford accidentally invented the charcoal briquet, using wood scraps and sawdust from his car factory. Now we buy more than $400 million worth of charcoal each year. But the increasingly popular way to barbecue these days is also the more environmentally friendly way, with a gas grill. Charcoal grilling causes a lot more air pollution, mainly because of the volatile organic compounds found in charcoal lighter. Manufacturers who sell these products in California have had to reformulate lighter fluid to meet the state's low VOC emission rules. The origin of the word barbecue is unknown. Some say it comes from barbacoa, the word Taino Indians use for their meat smoking apparatus. Others say it's French. Barbecue means "whiskers to tail," or the parts you're supposed to cook. Well, either way, the craze has spread quickly. Today barbecue contests are held not only in the United States but also in Ireland and even Estonia. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.