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Tips for Greener Tailgating

Photo provided by The Hungry Fan

Photo provided by The Hungry Fan

By Daina Falk

Hanging out until the end of a tailgate, you can’t help but notice how much goes to waste. It’s 2016 and being green has gone from trendy to just what you gotta do. So here are some simple tips to keep in mind for your next tailgate so we can all have fun, eat awesome food but also do our part to help promote a cleaner planet:

1. Use a natural-gas or propane grill. Natural gas and propane grills are both more environmentally-friendly than their charcoal counterparts. Gas-powered grills produce about half the amount of carbon emissions as charcoal. (When producing 35,000 Btu’s per hour–a standard industry baseline–gas produces 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per house, compared to charcoal’s 11 pounds). Plus, most of the charcoal available on the market for grilling is pretty gross–it’s a combination of things like lighter fluid, cornstarch and sawdust and can result in 105 times more carbon monoxide when burned than propane.

2. Carpool to the tailgate/game. We already know carpooling to work–or just in general–is better for the environment. Game day is no different.

3. Bring a designated container for recyclables. At this point, people have become accustomed to recycling and tend to seek out a recycling bin. Be sure you’ve got one for them or everything will just get thrown in the trash, which would be unfortunate. Some waste management companies will even allow you to rent a recycling bin for larger groups, such as this company in Central Iowa who rents them for free.

4. Take home what you don’t finish. Leftovers can be delicious–especially tailgating leftovers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten my fill at the tailgate, gone into the game and cheered my head off–thereby working up an appetite–and returned home hungry again. Don’t throw away the food that doesn’t get eaten at your tailgate. Throw it into some Tupperware and take it home–heck, even use it to just save something to chow down on the way home!

5. Use environmentally-friendly plates, utensils and containers. The best way to go is to use reusable containers for food and beverages. But seeing as how most of us don’t bring our plates, glasses or forks from home, there are lots of other great Earth-friendly options. For starts, there are always paper products. Paper decomposes much faster in our landfills than plastic or Styrofoam do. You really should avoid Styrofoam at all costs–it takes hundreds of years to infinity to decompose. There are other great options besides paper as well. You can also buy containers, plates and utensils made from renewable plant fibers and even sugar cane. These kinds of products are actually biodegradable compostable (meaning that they basically dissolve back into the Earth, leaving no toxicity), are quite sturdy, less absorbent than paper, and are safe for hot and cold foods.

Here are some of my picks for great biodegradable tailgating gear:

1. 3-compartment plates: I don’t always love it when my different foods touch (i.e. ranch dip making its way onto my burger). Sure, they all end up in the same place, but I like to enjoy each individual flavor…individually. I like these plates because they allow me to do just that–and they’re $.50 apiece, which is a pretty sweet deal.

2. Biodegradable bowls: a 20-pack for $2.00. Sounds like a deal to me. And they compost back into the Earth in about 90 days? Yes please.

3. Earth-friendly forks that look just like plastic forks: I’ve tried the wooden forks because they’re environmentally friendly and I so wanted to like them. Alas, those wooden ones are like so dry that they stick to your tongue and your lips and it’s just not great. I know. A small part of me wonders about splinters… I like these forks so much more because they look and feel like plastic forks but they’re 100% biodegradable and they’re actually microwavable. This link gets you a whole pack of 500 forks for less than $.25 each. Not bad.

4. 16 oz. compostable cups: A big cup for big beers, mixed drinks, etc. I wouldn’t ever suggest anything smaller…who can play beer pong in a 7 ouncer? Come on. We know better. I dig these. They look like regular plastic cups but they aren’t–they’re actually made from a bi-product of corn. Pretty cool.

Healthy Fangating™ Fare

When you think of game day eats, the word “healthy” doesn’t quickly come to mind. This I know and wholeheartedly acknowledge. But when I got started in this business, it was after I had lost 60 lbs., was committed to keeping it off, but was not willing to give up my once-a-week cheat day that for me is spent tailgating or homegating, or collectively as I call it, Fangating. So I came up with new, healthier spins on game day favorites that included more nutrient-dense foods, smart substitutions, and overall healthier preparations. The three recipes that follow feature lots of yummy, nutritious veggies; Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream; sweet potatoes in place of other kinds of potatoes (which lack the same nutrients that sweet potatoes possess); nuts and leaner proteins; and are baked instead of fried. Whether you’re spectating at (or before) a sporting event or refueling after participating yourself, these are tasty, more sensible riffs on the dishes you might have otherwise avoided. Enjoy!

About the Author

“Fangating™” expert and celebrity cook Daina Falk, founder of the Hungry Fan®, is author of The Hungry Fan’s® Game Day Cookbook, which includes 165 Fangating™ recipes—including 40 that she collected from Olympians and professional athletes like LeBron James, Boomer Esiason, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi! Daina merges sports, food and entertaining (including tailgating and homegating) to celebrate and curate game day revelry like none other. Reach her online at www.HungryFan.com.

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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