By Brian G. Schommer The chorus of the 1992 Mary Chapin Carpenter song “The Bug” says it best… “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Life in general is about …
By Brian G. Schommer
The chorus of the 1992 Mary Chapin Carpenter song “The Bug” says it best… “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Life in general is about perspective; our individual point of view. Take grilling for instance; a person who believes that using propane is harmful to the environment probably does not own a propane grill. However, a person that believes use of propane is less harmful to the environment than other alternatives probably uses theirs year-round, even in Minnesconsin. A quick search on the internet provides lots of info and scientific facts supporting the use of propane and very little against it when compared to other grilling techniques. A recurring “hot topic,” (yes, I did that), focuses on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to improve air quality and protect the environment. As an outdoor columnist, from my perspective, that sounds great. While the “facts” against propane are few, there will still be those few folks who, from their point of view, are anti-gas grilling.
One article pointed to studies showing that propane emits up to 26% fewer GHG’s than gasoline in vehicles, 38% fewer GHG’s than fuel oil in furnaces and as much as half of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of a charcoal barbeque. It also said propane emits 60% less carbon monoxide (CO) than gasoline, 98% less particulate matter than diesel and contains virtually no Sulphur, which is a huge contributor to acid rain. There were several other “propane is better” talking points shared within the article, which I should add, was found on the Canadian Propane Association website, so I think their perspective is clear. I found an article that agreed propane is cleaner than a lot of the alternatives, but still… NOT CLEAN ENOUGH. This article was in favor of ONLY green alternatives. I found articles written by barbeque purists who would never use a grill with any fuel other than charcoal and, made an attempt to flat out dispute and disregard information about soot and other pollutants being released into the air, creating carcinogens in the smoke produced by charcoal grilling. Each article quoted scientifically based research completed by “educated professionals.” I was amused as contradicting viewpoints used the same study information to stake their claim a few times. It just comes down to the fact that perspective often depends on which side of the desk you are sitting on.
As a columnist, as opposed to a reporter, not only can I interject my perspective on whatever topic creeps out of my head and lands on paper; it is encouraged. We have all seen and heard disclosures such as “the opinions expressed are solely those of (fill in blank) and do not express the views and opinions of (fill in blank)” as a means to protect media organizations from comments made by people serving in my role. Safe to say the publisher of this fine periodical does not have to worry about such a disclosure when it comes to “Outdoor Adventures.” I do share my opinions about things from time to time, such as Polaris is the best snowmobile on the market or if you icefish and have not yet purchased a “Tickle Stick” from Fishing13, you are missing out… a columnist writes from their perspective. My perspective, like all people, comes from my experiences over the past 54+ years of being afforded the opportunity to live and breathe. I like gas grills. It is how I was raised and, I would bet the same could be said for many of you. My life as a BBQ dude started when I was in my late single digits (8 or 9). We had a kettle type charcoal grill and we did not grill a lot because of the time it took to get the coals ready. Not long after I hit the double digits, mom sprung for a gas grill, we started grilling more and the rest is history. I am a gas grill guy at heart and while I look at combination units and pellet grills, I have not made the leap yet. With spring looming closely, to me… that means GRILLING is not far away.
I know there is somebody out there reading this column right now arguing with me, in their mind of course, that I am wrong about the way I grill. I have had the conversations with friends that share difference points of view about the ‘right’ way to barbeque. “There is only one way to grill,” I recall a very close friend telling me. “Royal Oak Charcoal Briquets topped with hickory wood chips in a Weber Grill,” he concluded with his chest puffed out. I simply smiled. The fact that I did not engage with him sent him into a little bit of a tizzy. He wanted, no… NEEDED me to acknowledge that he was right, and I was not able to do that because, when it came to this discussion, I was sitting on the other side of the desk. “Well…” he asked, “you agree, right?”
I kept smiling and answered before he blew a gasket, “I have had burgers, chicken, steak and pork prepared on gas, charcoal and wood grills. I have eaten food that has been barbecued, smoked, rotisserie grilled and rotisserie wood grill (as the new Smokin’ Oak restaurant in Hastings will serve) and my friend, if you cannot tell by my physique, I truly love it all.” He was hellbent though and wanted me to agree that his way was, if not the only way, the best way. Again, I could not agree, and I could tell it really was bugging him. I again smiled and said, “it is okay buddy… it is only grilling. If there was only one way, we would not have St. Louis Style, Kansas City Style, Memphis Style…” Finally, he smiled and said, “okay… but I do not like using gas.”
We all have our different views, opinions and perspectives on just about everything and often, ours are different from those of our spouse, significant other, closest family members and friends. Coexisting with each other despite our differences is something that while not always easy, is vital to keeping a semi-peaceful balance within society. None of this is new… even little children experience the need for conflict resolution. Take Johnny and Peter; daycare buddies most the time. One day, Johnny is playing with a toy truck. Peter decides that truck is cool and wants it. Neither have much of a vocabulary, so Peter does what most kids would do… he takes the truck. Johnny begins to cry and then, takes it back. Peter pushes Johnny and a battle royal between two 14-month old youngsters ensues. The daycare personnel quickly swoop in and further catastrophe is avoided. The need for an outside resource to help Johnny and Peter coexist based on the situation was needed. As they grow up, time will provide experiences that will lead to development of their own perspectives, and how they will act upon their beliefs. Their differences will expand beyond how to handle a situation like the great toy debacle. There will still be occasion that an outside resource is needed to help bring resolve and peace to their lives. Maybe it will even come in the form of reading an outdoors column in a local newspaper? The ability to coexist will still be essential for them… as it is for all of us. From my perspective, I think society in general needs to get back to agreeing to disagree. That will take effort from both Johnny and Peter… and everyone else. Maybe when the snow is gone, we can all Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors (by a grill… with friends… no matter what their perspective)?