Food Trucks and Sustainability: Do They Mix?

by Alexina Cather, MPH

New York City issues over 5,100 mobile-food-vending permits – 500 of which belong to food truck operators. In the last decade, food trucks have come to represent more and more of the city’s food landscape. However, with a potentially negative contribution to the city’s air quality, and a seemingly endless array of unhealthy meal options, can these trucks contribute to a healthier, more sustainable food system?

The NYC Food Policy Center has compiled a list of food trucks working to make a difference. Check out these featured food trucks, and find out what the “special sauce” is – how each truck is benefitting the New York City food community.  

Name of food truck: Cinnamon Snail

Where they are: On the corner of 33rd and 7th avenue in Manhattan, by Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. Open from 11:00am – 9:00pm seven days a week. Check facebook and twitter for updated locations

Food served: The Cinnamon Snail menu changes seasonally, featuring yummy dishes like red curry grilled tofu, Korean barbeque seitan, maple mustard tempeh, and miso teriyaki grilled tofu. For dessert, the Cinnamon Snail has over 30 different donuts and pastries to choose from.

Secret sauce: Meals are all vegan, and use all-natural, organic ingredients

Name of food truck: Cool Haus

Where they are: Check Cool Haus’s twitter for updates on where the truck will be each day

Food served: Ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, and scoops of ice cream

Secret sauce: Cool Haus is committed to quality and sustainability. Every dessert is made using fresh, all-natural, organic ingredients, and sustainably produced, hormone-free dairy.

Name of food truck: Green Pirate

Where they are: MondayThursday the truck is parked inside the Starrett Lehigh building in West Chelsea. Saturday & Sunday throughout the Summer the truck will be at the Bulletin Market on North 8th and Driggs St in Williamsburg. Check facebook and twitter for updated locations

Food served: Raw, freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, and cold drinks like wheat grass shots. The Green Pirate truck also serves food like the hummus avocado wrap, kale quinoa salad, seasonal soups and delicious, gluten-free baked goods.

Secret sauce: The Green Pirate recycles and tries, as much as possible, to minimize waste produced from the truck. They compost all waste leftover from the production of juices and serve juice using compostable plastic corn cups. The truck is run on biodiesel fuel, and they use only cleaning products that contain no harsh chemicals. However, not only is Green Pirate eco-friendly, they have a commitment to providing healthy food to the community. Being mobile allows the truck to reach customers from all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, making healthy food accessible to everyone.  

Name of food truck: The Green Radish

Where they are: Check out the Green Radish’s twitter and facebook page for daily updates on where the truck will be

Food served: The Green Radish food truck serves black bean burgers, grilled tofu and sides like salads, fries, and corn fritters with cashew cream. The truck also serves desserts including raw chocolate almond tarts, chocolate peanut butter cups, and milk shakes

Secret sauce: The truck’s founder, Jim Rafferty, is New York Times/Zagat reviewed chef with a passion for living a healthy, active lifestyle. The Green Radish serves only plant based food, and uses ingredients that are all-natural, organic, and locally sourced whenever possible.

Name of food truck: Kelvin Slush Co.

Where they are: Check out Kelvin Slush Co’s twitter for daily updates on where the truck will be

Food served: The Kelvin Slush Co. serves slushies with flavors like spicy ginger, pina colada, or green and black tea.

Secret sauce: All Kelvin slushies are certified organic. No high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives are used. Kelvin’s slush flavors are also vegan, gluten free, and are not made with genetically modified ingredients.

Name of food truck: The Morris Truck

Where they are: Click here to see where The Morris Truck is each week

Food served: The Morris Truck serves a variety of grilled cheeses, with optional add-ons like pickles, sauces, and bacon. The truck also serves soups, and house made drinks, like Blueberry Shiso, Yuzu Ginger Beer, and Peach Bourbon.

Secret sauce: The Morris Truck is committed to using ingredients from local farms and purveyors, like Hudson Valley Duck Farm, Migliorelli Farms, Orwasher’s Bakery, Murray’s Cheese, and many more.

Name of food truck: NYC Green Carts

Where they are: Click here to find the nearest NYC Green Cart

Food served: The NYC Green Carts provide fresh fruits and vegetables – everything from tropical fruits, like mangos, and papayas, to more common foods, like green beans, carrots, radishes, and apples.  

Secret sauce: The NYC Green Cart program was started in 2008 by the city of New York. The initiative began as a way to provide underserved neighborhoods, with limited access to fruits and vegetables, better access to healthy foods.

Name of food truck: Shuka

Where they are: Sun: 67th st & Broadway from 11:00am – 5:30pm, Mon: 21st st & 5th from 11:00am – 5:30pm, Tues: Fidi – Hanover sq from 11:00am – 5:30pm, Wed: 35th st & Lex from 11:00am – 5:30pm, Thurs: NYU – West 4th st & University Pl from 11:00am – 5:30pm, Fri: 46th st & 6th ave from 11:00am – 5:30pm.

Food served: Shakshuka, an Israeli dish made out of eggs poached in tomato sauce , Bell Peppers, Harissa and flavored with Cumin and other spices

Secret sauce: The Shuka truck uses only organic ingredients and kosher dairy.

Name of food truck: Snowday

Where they are: Follow on twitter or instagram for up to date locations

Food served: Some menu items include Classic Maple Grilled Cheese, Fried-Smoked Spare Ribs, Chicharron de Pollo, Potato Salad, Broccoli Rabe Caesar, and a ‘Found Salad’ made with foraged greens. However, because of Snowdays commitment to using seasonably available, locally sourced ingredients, the menu is subject to change based on ingredient availability.

Secret sauce: Snowday is New York City’s first ‘farm-to-truck.’ All ingredients are sourced from local, small family farms who promote regenerative agricultural practices. Some of the truck’s produce even comes from farms within the city – like Battery Park and Randall’s Island Urban Farms. Snowday also makes use of those ingredients in low demand – food usually passed over at the farmers market. However, it’s not just Snowday’s commitment to organic, sustainable, locally sourced food that’s special. Snowday trains and employs formerly incarcerated youths. This “Vehicle for social justice” is run by the non-profit organization Drive Change. Drive Change uses the food truck as a workplace to run a year long fellowship to help those returning home from jail obtain preferential employment and educational opportunities once their fellowship ends.

Name of food truck: The Squeeze

Where they are: Locations and hours can be found here

Food served: Fresh pressed raw juice, fair trade cold brew coffee, raw nuts milks and smoothies, seasonal soups, salads and ‘savories’ made of entirely raw ingredients, yummy raw desserts, like raw chocolate truffles and cookies.

Secret sauce: The Squeeze is committed to serving food that promotes the wellbeing of animals and the planet. The truck serves only plant-based food, using organic, non-GMO, locally sourced (whenever possible) ingredients.

Name of food truck: Sweetery NYC

Where they are: Check Sweetery NYC twitter for daily updates on where the truck will be

Food served: Pastries, quiches, soup, cookies and ice cream sandwiches.

Secret sauce: Sweetery NYC features a seasonal menu, made with ingredients that are all-natural and organic. The coffee is fairtrade certified, and sustainably farmed.

Name of food truck: Taim

Where they are: Mondays: FiDi, Water & Broad St., 11am to 3pm, Tuesdays/Wednesdays: Flat Iron, 20th st. & 5th Ave, 11am to 3pm, Thursdays: West Soho, Varick & Vandam,11am to 3pm

Food served: Serves traditional Middle-Eastern food with a gourmet twist – falafels, hummus, israeli salad… And smoothies

Secret sauce: Taim’s menu is entirely vegan and vegetarian. Only those foods marked with an * contain dairy or eggs.

Name of food truck: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Where they are: Daily locations: Bedford & 8th, Williamsburg Brooklyn from 12pm until late; Prince & Greene from 12:00pm – 6:00pm; University & 12th, NYU from 7pm until late

Food served: Classic and vegan ice cream flavors, homemade sundaes, coffee and tea

Secret sauce: All Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is made from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The classic ice cream is made using nothing but fresh milk and cream, cane sugar and egg yolks. The Vegan scoops are made with house made cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter and organic carob bean.

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