Have you noticed that once a discussion goes on long enough, certain phrases start to lose meaning? Everybody seems to toss terminology around, rarely stopping to think what each term really means. Some phrases seem to balloon, taking on connotations they weren’t designed to carry, and other phrases get pared down into a specific meaning until they are slivers of their former robust selves.
Such confusion is present in the food-obsessed corners of the Internet; with so many cooks in the mobile kitchen, so to speak, the sustainable food conversation is getting a bit muddled.
One way to inspire others to join the sustainable food movement within the mobile food industry is to be a sustainable leader yourself. Even if you have yet to start, in this article we have provided you some small changes and efforts that can help to make a big difference in the mobile food industry.
It’s not possible for everyone all the time. But when it is possible, support your local farmers. Take your food truck team to visit a farmer. It is a good exercise in remembering that each piece of food has a story, and a person behind it.
Find a sustainable meat producer
Sustainable meat can have many definitions, but generally speaking, sustainable meat comes from animals raised on open pasture without the use of added hormones and antibiotics.
Know your seafood
The criteria for evaluating the sustainability of seafood differ from those for agriculture. Inform yourself and demand that your suppliers are informed too. If they can’t tell you where a fish is from and how and when it was caught, you probably don’t want to be serving it.
Not all bottled water is created equal
Some companies are working to reduce and offset their carbon footprint through a number of innovative measures. Some of the biggest names in the restaurant world (like The French Laundry) are moving away from water bottled out of house. Discuss an in-house filtration system with your commissary to allow you to offer a number of options.
Get rid of Styrofoam
Replace replace Styrofoam take-out containers with containers made of recycled paper. Support organic, biodynamic viniculture. There are incredible, top-rating biodynamic or organic wines from around the world.
Choose 1 day per quarter, or 1 per month, to devote a morning to community service: send staff to a soup kitchen, bring local kids into the kitchen, teach the kitchen staff of the local elementary school a few tricks, or spend a few hours working in the sun at a community garden.
Mobile kitchen equipment of the future is green
Major equipment producers, like Hobart and Unified Brands, are developing special initiatives to investigate and develop greener, cleaner, energy-smart machines. This will also save you money in the long run.
Fuel efficient driving
You can boost the overall fuel-efficiency of your truck as much as 30% by simple vehicle maintenance and attention to your style of driving. Not only will this reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, but could save you hundreds of dollars a year in fuel costs.
Green your cleaning routine
Trade astringent, non-biodegradable, potentially carcinogenic chemical kitchen cleaners for biodegradable, eco-safe products.
Recycle your fryer oil
There are biofuel companies across the country that will pick it up and convert it.
Cut down on shipping materials
Request that suppliers send goods with the least amount of packing materials possible. Request that Styrofoam packaging not be used.
Be strict about recycling glass and plastic receptacles. Recycle cardboard and wood boxes used for produce.
Ice = water + energy
Don’t waste it! Don’t automatically refill ice bins – wait until they truly get low, and only add as much as you need to get through the crush. Ice is expensive to produce, both in terms of money and resources.
If you use a shared commercial kitchen or commissary look into joining (or forming) a local co-op for purchasing green items. Cleaning supplies, paper products, all cheaper in bulk.
Educate yourself and staff
From agricultural philosophy to the specifics of restaurant operations, the number of resources for green issues and practices is ever-growing. Your staff needs to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, so that they can spread the word – to the diners, and beyond.
We hope you found these tips useful. If you have any additional suggestions on how a food truck or mobile food vendor can become more sustainable, please let us know in the comment section below.