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Green BBQ

Diablo has the scoop on how to make your next BBQ an organically certifiable smash


Ribs courtesy of Main Street Meat and Fish Market

Jennifer Martine

When we saw that Green Leaf BBQ, a store specializing in environmentally friendly barbecue equipment and supplies, had opened in Livermore, our first question was: What exactly is green barbecuing? We checked in with a few local experts—including Green Leaf’s general manager and “pit boss,” Tim Bryan—for advice on how to grill up a guilt-free backyard meal.

From grills to charcoal to sauces, here are Bryan’s picks for the greenest grilling gear.

• Just say no to gas grills, says Bryan, who recommends two alternatives: the Green Mountain Grill, which uses electricity to heat condensed wood pellets made from recycled sawdust; and the Big Green Egg, with superefficient ceramic walling so you can use less charcoal.

• Fill your grill with lump charcoal. Made from charred wood but without the chemical binders and additives found in many mass produced briquettes, it burns clean and comes from renewable sources.

• All of Green Leaf’s rubs and spices are either all-natural or made locally, but if you aren’t near Livermore, Bryan recommends Urban Accents and Rub With Love brands, available at Whole Foods.  

Pleasanton’s Main Street Meat and Fish Market specializes in sourcing organic, sustainable products. Some tips from owner Matt Shockley.

• Look for grass-fed (like Marin Sun Farms), in which antibiotic and hormone-free cows are not unnaturally fattened with corn; or all-natural (like Painted Hill), where cows are fed some corn but are still hormone and antibiotic-free.

• Shockley recommends Mary’s Chickens, which are pasture raised (free range), vegetarian fed, and hormone and antibiotic free—not to mention air chilled versus water cooled to better absorb marinades. 

• Easy: the Monterey Bay Aquarium keeps track of the world’s fish populations to recommend the best fish to buy at any given time. Download a pocket guide at montereybayaquarium.org (there’s also an iPhone app).

Jim Telford, owner of the new Residual Sugar Wine Bar in Walnut Creek, recommends eco-friendly wines for your barbecue.

2008 Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
Napa Valley
• All grapes at Long Meadow Ranch are certified organic, grown without herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. Pair this crisp-but-complex wine with grilled shrimp or vegetables.

2007 Grgich Hills Chardonnay
Napa Valley
• Certified organic and biodynamic, this rich, acidic white pairs well with chicken or grilled pork.

2007 Paul Dolan Zinfandel
Mendocino County
• Made with organically grown grapes produced without conventional pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, this jammy, peppery red pairs great with steak, ribs, chili, or burgers. 

CLICK HERE for an expert's Top-5 list of favorite local, summer beers.

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