Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cooking Grease: The Latest Target for Organized Grime

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has highlighted a recent Reuters article on what has been characterized as a "major crime" on the rise in California.  Stealing used cooking grease.  The state is apparently so saturated with fat crooks (that's fat crooks, not fat crooks) that a state assemblyman has introduced legislation to help trap these slippery thieves.
    The law would allow the CA highway patrol to pull over the typically unmarked pumper trucks often used to transport the illicit lipids to check paperwork for proof of ownership for any Inedible Kitchen Grease (IKG - yes, it's a real acronym) found on board.  Not only could the undocumented oil be confiscated, but the transport trucks as well.
    So what is behind this allure of lard, these grease-grabbing gangsters?  Turns out it all comes back to the environment.  The castoff cooking contraband is a prime raw material for biofuels.  One man's grease is another man's gas.  According to the CDFA's website, this has been a problem since the early 1990s, but the recent increased interest in biofuels has solidified IKG theft as a major crime in the state:
Like copper, the state says, the grease has value as a commodity, and is often sold by restaurateurs to make extra money. Legitimate haulers also try to turn a profit by agreeing to remove the waste from restaurant sites and sell it to rendering companies, which turn it into usable fuel such as bio-diesel.
    The real mystery is why this story has not captured more attention.  It has crime, politics (CA state assembly), environmentalism (biofuels), nutrition (if restaurants sold healthier food, they wouldn't have all that grease), even civil liberties (pulling over vehicles without probable cause to "check paperwork"? in America?!) I am hoping to draw attention to this story and help grease the skids to bring it the national prominence it deserves.
    I know... fat chance.

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