Crude oil is simply raw, unprocessed oil taken from the ground. It takes nature hundreds of millions of years to produce crude oil. The process starts 300 million years ago, long before the age of the dinosaurs, during a time known as the Carboniferous Period, when the planet was dominated by dense swamps and tiny plants known as algae covered the seas. As these plants died they sank and coagulated together to form a spongy material called peat. Over millions of years the crust of the planet shifted, covering the peat in vast layers of rock and placing it under immense pressure until the water was squeezed out of it and the peat became what we call fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas. As amazing as it sounds, when we place food in plastic wrap, another petroleum product, we are literally wrapping it with the refined molecules of material once alive millions of years ago in ancient swamps and oceans. This eons-old material is extremely useful because it contains highly energetic and malleable molecules known as hydrocarbons.