Keep on food truckin’


Greater Lansing is fortunate to be the home of one of the nation’s best food trucks – The Purple Carrot. Nearly every Saturday, one can find it parked at the Meridian Farmers Market with a line of eager customers waiting to get one of their tasty farm-to-truck food offerings. This morning, I had a delicious blueberry-vanilla scone that was out of this world. On other days, the brightly hued truck is parked one place or another around town selling items from its yummy menu.

The Purple Carrot - Source:

Aside from being the equivalent to a mobile restaurant or green grocer, food trucks can and do provide an important service to local communities. They can fill the void found in “food deserts.” You read that correctly, I did not intend to say “desserts.”

Food deserts in the USA - Source:

A food desert can be defined an area with little or no access to food vendors and retailers, particularly those selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Sadly, too many inner cities and rural areas are particular susceptible to food desertification as chains will often avoid areas with lower incomes and population densities. That leaves far too many in our nation only served by convenience stores or liquor stores that seldom carry healthy food offerings.

The food truck phenomenon is one fairly quick, mobile, inexpensive, and adaptable way to address food deserts without the need for a large investment in a bricks and mortar structure. Farmers markets are another method, though the majority are not open year round. Greater Lansing alone has seen an eight-fold increase in the number of farmers markets in the past decade, from two to 17.

Another possible option for addressing food deserts would be the return/and expansion of green grocers – small markets that primarily cater to selling fruits and vegetables – in more communities and neighborhoods. My great-great-great grandfather was such an entrepreneur in Manchester, England back in the mid 19th century.

As urban planners, we should be devising innovative ways to improve and increase access to healthy foods for all our community’s residents, not throwing up roadblocks in the way. But, food deserts are not just a planning issue, as obesity rates continue to rise, more access to wholesome and fresh foods, as well as recreational opportunities are also health, safety, economic development, business, and fitness issues. A healthy community is a key attribute vibrant and dynamic community.

Those entrepreneurs that fill the food desert void with quality services and product will join The Purple Carrot as a community-wide success that area residents can be proud of.  Those communities that plan for healthy food systems will benefit from a healthier and more fit populace with lower obesity and diabetes rates, fewer sick days, and lower health insurance costs than those who do not.

So, keep on food truckin’ everyone as the food truck evolution comes a rolling into your town.

This entry was posted in cities, culture, diversity, economic development, economic gardening, entrepreneurship, food systems, health, land use, planning, poverty, transportation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Keep on food truckin’

  1. Pingback: A weekend filled with diverse delights « Progressive Blogic

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