Cooking over flame in the great outdoors (or even just on your patio) is a primal and fun experience that brings out a little cave man in all of us. But grilling can also be an environmentally unfriendly way to get dinner on the table: grills use non-renewable resources like fossil fuels or deforesting ones like charcoal, produce air-polluting emissions, and, if you’re not careful, can have you ingesting carcinogens (in the form of charred fat).
Some ways to grill are greener than others, but a far superior outdoor cooking method—as far as Mother Nature is concerned—is the humble solar oven or solar cooker. Though impractical for an evening cookout, solar cookers are an environmentally perfect option for an outdoor party, even in the winter. Using only the sun’s glorious rays and a bit of patience, a solar oven will whip up a fantastic meal—while you sit back and entertain or play with the kids. It’s slow going but avoids resources and emissions entirely, and cooking without a flame eliminates the health concerns regarding burned food.
Shop around for a cooker that suits your needs. You can even make your own.
It’s basically a solar powered crock-pot: Put the food in and leave it alone until it’s done. The results will be stewlike.
Beware of overcast weather unless you have a hybrid oven, which has an electric backup element for bad weather.