Filling up your gas tank with petroleum-based fuel may seem like an unavoidable fact of life. Regular, supreme or diesel, it really doesn't matter, they're all derived from the same ill fated and nearly exhausted source—oil. But although options may be slim for the time being, this doesn't have to be the case.
Nearly a decade ago, a young man named Josh Tickell set out in a diesel Winnebago, dubbed the Veggie Van, and embarked on a two-year tour of the continental United States. The van was powered by biodiesel collected from fast food restaurants he encountered along the way. His Veggie Van Voyage attracted the attention of numerous media outlets and served to spread the message of biofuels as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels. Soon, his clarion call was picked up and spread across the heartland by Willie Nelson and Neil Young, as they championed the veggie-based alternative fuel to long-haul truckers in search of money saving propulsion across the open road.
Momentum built as Tickell spoke out against foreign oil and the benefits of biodiesel. Gas stations across the U.S. were retrofitted with biodiesel pumps, entire nations in Europe were promoting the cheaper alternative and a cleaner world was at his fingertips. Then out of the blue, the biofuel industry and infrastructure imploded upon pressure from naysayers, harking that food crops were diverted from famished nations to produce fuel, starving millions of people in the process.
What did Tickell do? He wrote two books, From The Fryer To The Fuel Tank and Biodiesel America: How to Free America From Oil And Make Money With Alternative Fuels, and recently released a lay-it-all-out-there documentary about the root of America's addiction to foreign oil and alternatives to petroleum-based fuels. Fuel is not just an eye-opening look into oil supremacy in America, but an emotional autobiography of a man charged with a mission to educate the world about biofuels.
The film paints a bleak picture for America, and Louisiana in particular, one that would make most people throw up their arms and admit defeat under the power and greed of the wealthy oil hierarchy. But Tickell refuses to fall on his sword. Instead, he explores alternative ways to produce biofuels without the use of food-based crops. Hopefully for Tickell, there's an algae farm coming to a wastewater treatment plant near you.