Gastronomically speaking, it is my favorite time of the year. Grilling is something I enjoy doing, and I enjoy consuming the results. Meats, vegetables, fruits, even breads are amazing when cooked over an open flame. While roasting, frying, boiling, even smoking can produce some great tasting food, there is just something about the taste and texture of food grilled outdoors. It is also good for America.
A 2015 study conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) shows that 75 percent of all U.S. households own a grill or smoker. Traditional summer holidays top the list of the most popular grilling holidays: the Fourth of July (68 percent), Memorial Day (52 percent), and Labor Day (51 percent). On average, Americans cook on their grills 12 times per year. Meat remains the top food item cooked on grills: hot dogs 72%, steak 71%, burgers 69%, and chicken parts 64%. Thirty-eight percent of grill owners believe food cooked on their grills rather than in their ovens is more healthful, while 57% believe it is just as healthy.
Like just about any activity that gets people to eat meat, grilling has come under attack by anti-meat activists. PETA claims that not only does grilling contribute to global warming but the entire animal agriculture industry is a cause of climate change. Like most claims made by PETA, the facts do not back this up. Today over 60% of grills use propane gas with only 40% using charcoal and 10% using electric. Studies have also shown that, if everyone in the U.S. stopped eating meat, the climate impact would be negligible.
Grilling is also a great way to support the U.S. economy. Industry estimates say that 40% of grill owners plan to purchase a new or additional grill within the next year. In addition, grilling season is a significant demand factor for the livestock sector. This represents a $1.02 trillion impact on the U.S. economy. According to a recent analysis, the livestock industry represents 5.6 percent of the gross domestic product of the U.S. The analysis, commissioned by the North American Meat Institute, found the meat and poultry industry is responsible for 5.4 million jobs and $257 billion in wages.
So, during this Independence Day weekend, grab some animal protein and fire up the grill. Just tell your neighbors you are helping America and eating more naturally. After all, one of the first things man did when he discovered fire was cook with it.
By Gary Truitt