These BBQ Stats Will Make You Conquer the Cookout

A “grills gone wild” special.


People have been barbecuing in the Americas since long before the United States existed. In 1526, Spanish explorer Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés used the word “barbacoa” to describe frames that South American tribes used to cook their meat. Two and a half centuries later, in 1773, George Washington—who had a large smokehouse at Mount Vernon—wrote of hosting “a Barbicue of my own giving at Accatinck.”

Now, of course, a lot of us are doing it.

These are not good days to be a farm animal—particularly a farm animal whose parts end up as hot dogs.

Speaking of which, just in case you think you might ever have a shot at winning Coney Island’s annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, consider the competition:

Fun stuff. But there are environmental and health costs to our grilling habits. The Environmental Protection Agency offers these equivalents of the amount of carbon that would be released into the atmosphere if we all fired up our ‘cues on July Fourth.

Holy cow meat! On the other hand, you’ve got to cook the stuff sufficiently. According to the US Department of Agriculture, one out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it’s been cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Then again—so many conundrums!—cooked meat contributes to our cancer risk. The good news is that Portuguese and Spanish researchers have found that soaking pork chops in beer before grilling them reduces carcinogens in the cooked meat. Which is also good news because it means…more beer. But here are the sobering facts.

Fires and the grim reaper aren’t the only nasty things in store this holiday weekend.

So quit chewing on your grill brush. And finally, as every American should know, being this stupid is downright un-American:



Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.