Summer is the season for outdoor cooking.  We’ve already passed Memorial Day, but the horizon still holds Independence Day, LaborDay, and any number of sunny weekends that beg for us to call our friends, crack open some brews, and throw a coal on the barbecue.

But if there’s one theme we’ve hit over and over again, it’s that meat and animal products have massive virtual water footprints.  That means if you want to conserve during the drought, you’ll have to skip the hamburgers, the hotdogs, the brats, and the cheese and bacon on top.  Unfortunately, since processed vegetarian burgers and dogs also use a lot of water, they’re out, too.

What’s the bluest option for grilling?

Corn on the cob is a classic grill option.  At 1,222 liters of water per kilogram of corn,  corn may not be the most water-friendly vegetable, but you’re not going to eat an entire kilogram of corn.  An ear of corn is hefty, weighing between a pound and a pound of a half.  If you’re eating cob that’s on the heavy side, you’re eating about .68 kilograms of corn, or a little under 831 liters.

Other veggies that go well on the grill?  Baked potatoes (287 liters per kilogram), bell peppers (270 liters per kilogram) and onions (168 liters per kilogram).  You could even get creative and layer each of those veggies on a skewer.

Creative dessert ideas?  You can grill a banana inside its peel and top it with sundae toppings for a virtual-water alternative to ice cream.  At only 790 liters per kg of bananas, these fruits are far water-friendlier than ice cream, which is made of water-intensive milk, sugar, and artificial flavorings and coloring.

Don’t let the summer heat prevent you from making water-wise choices this summer.  When you fire up the barbeque, think of your water sources while you do so.  And remember to wear sunscreen! 

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