The argument is always the same. Food trucks are stealing away business from the more established, brick-and-mortar restaurants. Yes, you heard that right. The argument, against food trucks, that is most often used by many traditional restaurants is that, “Food trucks are competing with us and we don’t like it!” Again, your eyes are not deceiving you. As Ricky Bobby would say, “That just happened!” Apparently, unbeknownst to me and Mrs. Akers, my 8th grade history teacher; we lost the Cold War, and, in doing so, opened up communism to run rampant through our once free and capitalist, market economy. But wait! Did we really lose? Or are many of these troubled restaurant owners just frightened at the sophistication and price point of the food being served through these mobile pioneers? In short, I think we all know it is the latter. Unless of course, I currently exist in that Russian city from the movie, “The Experts,” and, if that’s the case, we’re all in trouble (not so much from communism, but more from John Travolta’s ungodly mullet . . . Yes, sadly . . . I just went there)!
Nevertheless, I believe the food truck phenomenon is perfect for our current, economic climate. In fact, I would go so far as to say that food trucks lessen the economic impact for many individuals and families in today’s cash-strapped world. In other words, in an economy where food prices have risen and time is still money; mobile restaurants provide a much-needed service. Additionally, I also believe that food trucks provide rare economic opportunities to entrepreneurs that have ultimately been blacklisted by reluctant banks. That is why many individuals, especially young adults, benefit from food trucks, and, ultimately, why I believe they need our continued support.
Look at it this way. About half of the U.S. population is unemployed. 15% of the population (45.8 million) of us live under the poverty line. In fact, many individuals that currently have jobs or make above the $22, 133 poverty line still have trouble making ends meet. In essence, this lack of disposable income is the first reason we need food carts.
In short, food carts have always been the lunch time spot for those pinching pennies, and why not? At many food carts, you can receive a full meal for under $5.00! Keep in mind traditional restaurants usually charge a couple of bucks for a single soda. Plus, now the standard hot dog and taco stands that used to define the food truck genre have given way to gourmet and health conscious options that were historically only reserved for fine dining. That’s not to say that you still can’t find amazing tacos and hot dogs at a food cart. It just serves to illustrate how big the food truck phenomenon has become in the last five years.
In 2010, the New York Times estimated that 2.5 billion people eat at food carts every day. Every day. To me, that provides us the second reason we need food carts. In other words, the food cart business seems like a field that would be perfect for creating jobs for the out-of-work and for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs with little cash. In other words, food trucks are the American way. They provide hard-working people with little resources a chance to showcase their talents and passion. Thus, that is why I fully support Boise’s food cart movement. In the end, it is because, as Americans, it is who we are. We pull together. We support, and we encourage other to reinvent themselves. It is after all the “Land of Opportunity,” and, ultimately why on my next lunch break, I will be backing Boise’s amazing food cart scene!
I hope you do the same.