We’ve always been intrigued by the vignette in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy where Almanzo snags a few donuts as he passes through the kitchen one afternoon; apparently that’s what the donuts were there for. (Between-meal snacking is very rare in our house.) This afternoon Maggie decided to make some donuts using the Little House Cookbook recipe and some of our newly rendered lard. Not greasy at all.

The non-greasiness made me think of a letter that Dr. Joseph Mercola recently received:


My company is researching the production of biodiesel from used vegetable oil, and has contacted manufacturers which we suspected would produce the most waste oil. What comes to mind? Well, greasy potato chips (just look at your fingers after you eat them!) and donuts came to mind, after contacting the obvious home-run hitters, McDonald’s and KFC.

Contrary to what you might think, it seems the worst abusers of vegetable oils were not McDonald’s, but potato chip and donut manufacturers.

One manufacturer replied to my offer to purchase their used oil with the explanation that they hardly have any used oil left-over after the process. Tens of thousands of gallons come in, barely hundreds come out.

The reason? This manufacturer recycles the oil until it is entirely absorbed by the food. All that dirty oil eventually ends up in the potato chips themselves.

One problem that occurs after re-using vegetable oils is that FFA’s (free fatty acids) concentrate. The manufacturer volunteered this fact and noted that their solution is to chemically treat the oil to reduce the FFA’s, after which it is sent back to produce more potato chips. Mmmm — re-used vegetable oil treated with chemicals to reduce free fatty acids!

It turns out that these oils are so bad that biodiesel manufacturers shun them! In other words, they are difficult to catalyze into methyl-esters (biodiesel) and producers are reluctant to use them for engine fuel, yet people still eat the potato chips!

That brings us to the last time I ate a donut, those nicely-colored sweet confections. If you only saw the waste products. My offer to pick up one donut shop’s used oil for free was met by much enthusiasm by the management, and they told me that I could pick up a 55-gallon drum once every 6 months.

Did you ever go inside the donut shop and look at how much oil they have in those vats? Now consider that they only dispose of 55 gallons every 6 months! They would have given me more if they had it because I offered to pick it up for free, while they have to pay a renderer over $ 200 / month for disposal.

One closed-down shop asked me to pick up their barrel of used vegetable oil from their parking lot because it was leaking and causing ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE. I tried to drain the oil out, but it was so thick and sludgy that it clogged my pump. I was considering using a heavy-duty sewage pump to drain it, but decided not to, because the thick, smelly contents of that barrel were not usable as an ingredient for fuel, and refining it would be too expensive.

The material had an uncanny resemblance to sewage. The only reason I knew it wasn’t, was that it had a sweet, donut-like smell to it, but entirely unpleasant.

Scientific facts like knowing the carcinogen content of these “foods” is interesting, but if you want real motivation to avoid junk foods, go to the back of the “restaurant” were they dispose of their environmentally-harmful by-product and take a look. Also, you can ask them why they have to keep the stuff in barrels and wait for an expensive disposal service instead of just sending it down the drain?

The reason: the Environmental Protection Agency does not allow it?

The utility companies know that one of the reasons that raw sewage leaks out of the sewers and into our public water supply is that restaurants still illegally dump their used oil down their sinks, causing build-up and clogs to occur. I saw a picture of the clog once — it looked like a blocked artery.

Go ahead, have another potato chip — you are doing our environment a favor by “disposing” of that garbage with your own internal garbage disposal system. Your sink’s garbage disposal system will wear out every five years and can be replaced for about $80, but how will you replace your stomach, liver and kidneys and arteries?


Dennis Meizys
Maryland Green Power Co.


2 thoughts on “Grease

  1. Yack! I about threw up the last time I ate Lay’s potato chips.

    Over the course of the last six months we have been drastically changing our eating habits and almost everything now is home made. Now pretty much any premade food or fastfood I have eaten has a really bad taste to it.

    I have been making a butter cake about once a week for the last month and the batter is pretty dense. I am thinking about making some donuts from it, but have no idea what I would fry them in. I will have to inquire about some lard the next time I am at the store and see if it is the real stuff.

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