“Farm to food truck” isn’t a new concept to the mobile food industry, but at the same time, it is a term that some food truck owners aren’t aware of. This is a concept of purchasing locally grown food directly from the source. The term which was adapted from “farm to table” comes from the idea that with less time and fewer hands for the food to get from the farm to the food truck, the fresher, more environmentally sensitive and community minded it is. This can include growing your own garden for sustainable consumption at home or for your mobile food business.
Outside of the fact that you can greatly impact the economy of your community, health of your customers as well as the bottom line of your food cost budget as a result of buying from a local farm as your main food supplier.
Some of the benefits that come from the farm to food truck concept are:
- Support the local economy. Money stays within your community, which in turn directly supports your food truck business. Advertise the information about the farm that grows your food. Engage your customers with your locally-minded concept and inspire your neighbors to support local commerce as well.
- Keep inventory longer. Food that is purchased directly from the farm will naturally last longer on your storage shelves. It hasn’t spent time in a processing plant or on a delivery truck during the shipping process. It came straight from the ground to you, meaning you just bought yourself more time to think creatively.
- Invest in value. Many local farmers will compete with nationally recognized grocery store chains, but at times may charge a bit more because the quality of product that is being sold may be greater. Local produce and meat is more likely to be organic which increases the value of your menu.
- Create a local partnership. Building a business partnership between your business and local farmers, and other food trucks that support local business, can create a marketing network that promotes and sustains the local economy.
While it may seem as though there is no reason to join this movement, it isn’t without it’s challenges:
- Buying meat locally. Buying locally raised and processed meat, fish and poultry can be challenging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture restricts the number of birds a farmer can process on site and does not allow any red meat processing for small farm operations. Because of this, the meat may have been locally and organically raised with an emphasis on humane standards, but the slaughter and processing of the meat animals are probably (with the exception of poultry) handled off site.
- Finding off-season produce. There will be periods between planting and harvesting when produce may not be as bountiful. However, many farmers do have greenhouses where produce can be grown during colder months. Discuss off-season options with your partnered farmer or farmers ahead of time to avoid lack luster deliveries.
- Setting-up in the city. Maybe there isn’t a farm just down the road from where your food truck operates. This is the case for many mobile food businesses, but chances are there is a farm within a reasonable enough distance to your urban area. Visit your local farmer’s market and inquire about locations. Learn about delivery options for your establishment, or show up early and stock up weekly at the market.
If you are interested in getting started, try one of these organizations:
The farm to food truck (table) business model supports your local ecology and economy. Many food truck owners who have joined this movement have also developed composting programs to assure that their business stays green from start to finish. Consider buying locally to strengthen your neighboring rural community as well as your immediate neighborhood’s economy.