On food trucks and Luddites

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by Woody Armour

Let us consider the addition of six local food trucks to the local scene, that is, in North Grenville. These vehicles would be individually owned and operated. The standard objection to issuing permits for food trucks is that these “low-cost”operators would interfere with established businesses. I would point out that these food trucks:

1. Buy locally; something established operators seldom do, and is in keeping with councils buy local policy.

2. These food trucks would spend most of their time at fairs and exhibitions garlic festivals and other such outdoor events, and seldom operate in the winter.

3. Many of these food trucks will be owned by people who are using this venue to experiment with various recipes, methods, and local food items, prior to establishing a full-time kitchen. Thus they serve the purpose of incubators, something the council should encourage as these businesses would be compliant with the municipalities 10-point Rural Development Program, which is rumoured to be under development.

4. Since a number of mobile kitchens have been previously approved, and are in operation within the municipality, the question is not whether they can be permitted or not. The precedent has been set; the question is how soon will they be permitted? However, in the end, the objection of whether the trucks would interfere with established business or not is an economic argument and not within the mandate of this Council.

This Council does not object to one restaurant setting up adjacent to another, so why should there be objections to trucks being permitted to exist anywhere. This is an example of the Luddite philosophy alive and well within North Grenville.

These food trucks would also fit in well within the context of the local food scene, especially if they gathered at the Wednesday night farmers market, thus adding colourful support and finger foods unavailable elsewhere. Examples of these products would be steamed dumpling of various sorts, thick noodle soup (Shanghai style), freshly roasted garlic, tapas, buffalo wings, black garlic produced locally, and many other examples, including local ice cream.

We must also bear in mind that there are other types of food trucks, ones selling garlic products (fresh, dried and processed), trucks selling fermented products, and trucks selling specialized drinks. You may also find trucks selling malted barley. You may even see trucks selling dried hops, or speciality yeasts. This type is referred to as “destination trucks”, since people come to visit them specifically for their products.

One of the more interesting aspects of the food truck proposal is that these operators must develop a marketing and a sales plan that is in keeping with the times. These truck operators do not have a set clientele, so they must innovate to attract clientele simply to continue operating. Remember innovation is a key feature of the Rural Agricultural Plan. Nothing else the municipality does is innovative, so this should be a most attractive feature of food trucks, and one worth supporting.

The use of social media is something food trucks do well and is something the local establishments could adopt. Imagine a number of these trucks at a Wednesday night farmers market using their media expertise to draw people downtown.

Food trucks are part of a greater plan to develop local food and provide local employment. As a point of interest, during the summer of 1816, 200 years ago, Ned Ludd and the Luddites appeared on the scene attempting to withstand progress. The issue of food trucks has been hanging around since at least 1989, when the author attempted to get a permit for a food truck. There have been continuous delays, re-considerations, quiet objections, and so on. It appears Ned Ludd’s philosophy is alive and well in North Grenville.

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