Gasoline

Farmers in St. Aquilin, France have found yet another use for a beloved part of their cuisine: They’re using duck fat to power vehicles.

The farmer co-operative located in a rural village in the southwestern region of the Dordogne, produced over 4,000 gallons of the animal fat biodiesel (which also included pig and calf fat) last year, and a nearby factory will use some of the animal fats to power its biogas processing. “We’re really doing this out of activism, to recognize that we have to do something to help save the planet. We should stop the big speeches and start with little acts,” says Jules Charmoy, an organic cattle farmer.

According to the National Biodiesel board, biodiesel is a cleaner-burning diesel fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as vegetable oils.  For a relatively low cost, most any car can be converted to run on biodiesel fuels, and a number of biodiesel stations have cropped around the U.S., and many people source used vegetable oil from restaurants, or make their own. Poultry and pork manufacturer, Tyson Foods,  the nation’s second largest food production company, has begun converting millions of gallons of animal fat into biodiesel.

The demand for animal fat fuels, however, conflicts some environmentalists as livestock animals in large numbers has one of the most devastating impacts on the environment (along with cars), making a dependency on animal biodiesel a bit of an oxymoron, and at the very least, a short-term fix to the bigger issue of raising animals for food, even despite dwindling crude oil resources and pressures in high-conflict regions such as the Middle East.

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image: daryl_mitchell