Tom Purcell, 5/7/2007 [Archive]

Barbecue Sins

Barbecue Sins

By Tom Purcell

'Ah, spring is in the air. I can't wait to fire up the grill.'

'That is because you are a typical, self-centered American.'

'Pardon me.'

'Every time you barbecue, you emit 50 to 100 grams of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.'

'But I'm just trying to enjoy a couple of burgers.'

'If only America cared about the well-being of the world as much as Belgium does. Residents of Wallonia will be levied 20 euros every time they grill.'

'A tax on barbecuing?'

'Yes and there should be a tax on red meat. Two University of Chicago researchers concluded it causes global warming. This is because trees must be felled so cows can graze -- and more trees must be felled to grow the corn and hay the cows eat. This damage doesn't even factor in the methane.'

'Methane?'

'According to the United Nations, methane has 26 times more Global Warming Potential than carbon dioxide. Methane produced by cow flatulence contributes to global warming more than driving automobiles.'

'Look, I just want to grill up some hot dogs for some friends.'

'Ha! By eating hot dogs, you support an industry that treats pigs in the most inhumane manner imaginable. It uses the cruelest, most painful means to kill the pigs before they are sent to the butcher.'

'But some hot dog producers treat animals with dignity. I'll buy from them.'

'But hot dogs can be harmful to YOU. The Department of Agriculture confirms that hot dogs contain skeletal muscles, parts of pork stomach, snout, intestines, spleen and lips. Hot dogs may also be contaminated by listeria.'

'Then I'll fire up the charcoal with lighter fluid to make it extra hot. The heat will kill the listeria.'

'But according to San Francisco Department of the Environment, lighter fluid releases volatile organic compounds, which are hazardous to your health. And E Magazine says that lump charcoal, which is made from charred wood, contributes to deforestation -- that causes more greenhouse gases.'

'But charcoal adds flavor to the meat.'

'But E Magazine says charcoal burns dirty. It not only produces hydrocarbons, but tiny soot particles that pollute the air and make breathing hard for people with heart and lung problems. Not to mention that grilling meat over charcoal can be toxic.'

'Toxic?'

'The American Cancer Society says that when fat drips from meat onto charcoal, two kinds of carcinogenic compounds can form: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines. Both get absorbed into meat before you eat it.'

'Look, there's probably some danger in everything we humans do. But the weather has broken. I have been dying to fire up my grill.'

'Then switch to solar power. Solar-powered grills use mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a hot plate. There is no smoke, no open fire, no pollution, thus no contribution to global warming.'

'Wow, sounds tasty, but without charcoal briquettes or a roaring flame, there will be no flavor.'

'But Americans must learn how to make sacrifices for the sake of the world.'

'But you are overreacting. Besides, I've finally mastered salmon on the grill: A little olive oil, some special seasonings, and when the salmon fat drips onto the flaming-hot briquettes, the flavor is tremendous.'

'Perhaps you ought to try some tofu or celery stalks grilled only by the sun.'

'But grilling outside is an American pastime. It brings family and friends together to celebrate and relax. A sizzling hunk of steak or pork or salmon is as important to such gatherings as the iced tea, apple pie and ice-cold beer.'

'But you are proving my point. You are a self-centered American who cares not how his actions impact a sickly, feverish world. You, sir, are a barbecue sinner and you should be ashamed of yourself.'

'And you, sir, sure do know how to take the fun out of one of the great American pastimes.'

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For comments to Tom, please email him at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications."

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