There is a small street behind the Zigong campus that has rows of cheap restaurants where the students eat most of their meals. TheĀ students call this street “gutter oil alley.” Gutter oil is a completely disgusting, food safety problem in China. Chinese food calls for massive amounts of cooking oil and instead of buying normal cooking oil from a market, some street vendors and smaller restaurants will buy black market oil that has been reprocessed from garbage. People will collect oil from restaurant fryers, sewer drains, slaughterhouses, etc., bleach it to make it look normal, and then sell it to these cheap restaurants. Doing this is against the law in China and many of my Chinese friends are horrified by this trend, but using gutter oil is so widespread that peopleĀ feel like they can’t do anything to change it.

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