7 Ways to go Green With Your Food Truck
You might think that all food trucks guzzle gas and spew emissions that pollute the world. However, the truth is that many food truck owners embrace “going green” while creating their business plans. That helps them develop profitable, ethical businesses that give you access to some of the city’s best food. If you want to make your food truck greener, you can start by following these examples.
1. Use Local Ingredients
If you choose to use local ingredients in your food, then you can have a very positive effective on the environment. The most obvious reason concerns the number of miles that food travels before it reaches the consumer. The more miles something travels, the more fuel it uses. So, ingredients grown nearby are better for the environment than those grown thousands of miles away. Research shows that, in the United States, food travels about 1,500 miles before reaching consumers. Locally sourced food, however, travels fewer than 45 miles.
2. Choose Sustainably Grown Ingredients
Going local won’t satisfy true locavores. They want to know that you use ingredients from sustainable farms. According to University of California, Davis sustainable farms often try to grow a diverse group of products instead of relying a single crop. They also manage soil by rotating crops and using natural fertilizers instead of those based on manufactured chemicals. Sustainable farms let livestock eat fresh grass as they roam free within pastures. If you don’t get your ingredients from farms that follow these and other sustainable practices, then informed locavores will avoid you like the plague.
3. Use Solar Power
Your food truck needs electricity. Many food trucks get their energy from generators that burn a lot of gasoline. By switching to solar panels, food trucks can generate their own electricity to run appliances. Solar technology hasn’t become the norm in the United States, but more and more people are turning to the sun for their daily energy needs.
4. Use Compostable Utensils and Serveware
Choosing plates and bowls made from paper materials makes it possible for you to compost them instead of throwing them in garbage. Garbage leads to crowded landfills and often litter. You can also use forks, spoons, and other utensils made from biodegradable plastic so that all of your serveware can be recycled or composted. Biodegradable plastics and other materials have significant benefits for the environment.
Items made from these materials take up less room and decompose quickly even when thrown into a regular trash can. They are made from synthetic polymers, which reduces the world’s need for fossil fuels. Also, these servewares don’t sit in landfills for as long as petroleum-based plastics because they’re biodegradable. These items cost a little more than the standard plastic options, but they certainly help keep the environment in harmony.
5. Power Your Food Truck With Vegetable Oil
Who says you need oil from the ground to power your food truck? Why not take the oil that you use to cook food? There is a way to stain it and then put it into your tank. If you get your vehicle converted to a vegetable oil system, you can use the waste from the food you cook. Using vegetable oil instead of gasoline essentially lets you take oil from your fryer, pour it into your gas tank, and drive to your next event.
Aside from saving you money in the long-run, burning vegetable oil instead of fossil fuel offer several advantages. Advantages include releasing fewer pollutants into the air, giving you more miles per gallon than gas, and using a renewable resource instead of a finite source that will eventually run out. There are some additional costs to using vegetable oil or biodiesel, but they aren’t significant, especially if you’re trying to market your food truck as an environmentally friendly business.
6. Feed Scraps to Livestock
Even hungry patrons will leave leftovers sometimes. What can an eco-conscious food truck entrepreneur do about all of that waste? Well, she could start by raising her own chickens. Chickens are omnivores. Like humans, they can eat just about anything. By feeding leftovers to your chickens, you’re eliminating food waste, getting fertilizer for your garden, and gathering eggs that you can use to make recipes. If you have enough space to raise pigs and other livestock, you can often do similar things to complete the food cycle at your mobile restaurant.
To reduce leftovers you should also ask patrons if they want the sides that come with the entrees. You will cut the amount of leftovers from extras sides that customers don’t want, like french fries, onion rings, or vegetables.
7. Offer More Vegetable Than Meat Dishes
Image via Flickr by LizMarie_AK
People like their meat. But eating meat isn’t great for the environment. The Union of Concerned Scientists call meat-eating ecologically inefficient because farmers have to grow so many calories to raise livestock, which offer significantly fewer calories once they reach the dinner plate.
That doesn’t mean you have to go all vegetarian. As a good business, you should offer a variety of dishes to meet the tastes of more customers. By using less meat, though, you reduce your negative impact on the planet. Raising meat (at least the way factory farms do) has so many problems that’s it becomes hard to justify it. Factory farms consumes a huge amount of resources, especially water. They also pollute waterways and the ground with animal sewage. They encourages landowner to cut down forests for livestock production, and they encourage farmers to use large amounts of medication to keep animals “healthy” until processed. These just addresses the most obvious concerns.
If you choose to serve meat, choose livestock that were raised on appropriate foods. Cows should eat grass, not grain. Pigs, goats, and chickens, of course, can eat just about anything. Still, your customers would probably prefer that they eat natural, instead of processed, foods.
How have you made your food truck green? Do you feel like you’ve done a good job, or are you just getting started?