During one of my latest visits to Expo2015 in Milano I started wondering why they decided to use food tracks in several locations, first of all in the pavilion of the United States.
In Italy, food trucks (more commonly known as street food) started to be recognised as good food or even gourmet in the last few years. Perhaps the U.S. pavilion’s food truck was an illustration that street food could be quality food, even for Italian standards.
To our knowledge, the first fast-food truck appeared in 1872 in Providence, Rhode Island. The truck was in reality a wagon with cut out windows; its owner was a man named Walter Scott who started to sell sandwiches and pies to local workers.
Food trucks are not only historical but also a traditional way to bring food to local workers in many different areas of United States. Today, they are very common in most major U.S. cities and have become one of the most affordable and casual dining experiences that many enjoy regularly.
Often focusing on limited but creative dishes at reasonable prices, food trucks offer customers a chance to experience food that they otherwise may not. Finding a niche seems to be a path to the success for most trucks. While one truck may specialize in outlandish burgers, another may serve only lobster rolls. Food trucks are now even Zagat rated and are popping up in many other parts of the world. There is a noticeable trend in the city of Paris, with food trucks now commanding long lines and gourmet buzz.
But are food trucks sustainable? Or can they become sustainable?
Some are. Some are not.
Food tracks could become more sustainable in many ways, for example:
- food trucks can go where restaurants cannot and become a community hub;
- if using local and fresh ingredients, they can support local farmers and growers;
- menus can be changed seasonally, even daily to take advantage of in-season produce;
- choosing sustainably certified seafood, food trucks can serve healthier food that does not deplete fish stocks;
- replacing the Styrofoam containers with ones made from recycled paper;
- choosing a different way to drive the truck, using for example an efficient fuel or an electric vehicle.
Philly Greens is an example of an eco-friendly food truck powered by electricity. This type of truck could be the answer to one of the major problems with trucks: the pollution that comes from running a diesel engine and a generator all day. It seems it also serves seasonal, GMO- free food.
And for more good food truck news: The Food trust of Philadelphia recently partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to create a Healthy Food Truck certification program. It covers at least on aspect of sustainability: social responsibility.
[Photo courtesy of Saverio Lombardi Vallauri, IIP Campaigns & Initiatives]