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Stephen Guerra

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I haven't read any paleo cookbooks myself, but I can take a guess as to possible options.

1 - most commercial charcoals are not pure wood - they're pressed from sawdust and wood scraps and often impregnated with chemicals and starters

2 - there have been some studies that show that charcoal grilling (especially if you allow food to char) can be carcinogenic.

I personally use both gas and charcoal, but I don't use charcoal briquettes or anything like prepared charcoal. I buy lump hardwood charcoal. It's more expensive, but I think it's worth it.

Also I take the whole "carcinogenic" thing with a grain of salt. Man has been cooking over fire for years, for one. And for another, well, when you come right down to it, life can be carcinogenic. The air we breathe is polluted, the water we drink has chemicals added, etc. If you're smart and don't eat mass quantities of charcoal blackened meat fat, you're probably ok.

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