Let them graze?

Let them graze?

Photo By mike iredale

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Should the People drive to the food or should the food drive to the People?

Stated another way, how green is your go food? Auntie Ruth loves the idea of a burgeoning food-truck movement in Sacramento, as covered in last week’s SN&R feature story, “What the truck?!” by Nick Miller: fleets of meals-on-wheels, menus as inventive and diverse as Sacramento’s population, the sizzle of falafel mixing it up with the streetside smells of the city at lunch. Walk down to the corner where the truck has pulled up and bag a serving of South African “bunny chow.” … You eat standing up, your mind wanders off, Sacramento is scurrying this way and that. … And then, sigh, back to work.

Other green writers have tackled the subject of food trucks—the Green Lantern column in Slate (most excellent!) noted the pluses and minuses. Many trucks use propane instead of a restaurant’s natural gas (probably a net positive). The generators a truck might use is an eco-negative, but then the energy use of a full-service restaurant (lighting, heating, et al.) can account for 41 percent of the total energy consumption.

And there’s the enviro issue about the carbon footprint of the food truck’s home base. Writing for Slate, Nina Shen Rastogi—a food-truck fan—could draw no clear thumbs up or down for the eco-costs of the food that comes to you. Read for yourself at

But Sacramento officials have done a dumb-ass thing, environmentally speaking, by insisting that the trucks have to move every half-hour. These trucks are not Priuses; the positive effect of their impact on customer behavior—walk to your meal, don’t drive—is countermanded by this periodic eviction. And their business must be built, it seems to Ruth, on some level of predictability—if Auntie Ruth couldn’t rely on the Mini Burger Truck to show up near her workplace and be there after her two-hour 11 o’clock meeting, well, she might forget about Mini Burgers after a while. Which increases the food trucks’ nomadic search for customers. Which means more driving by the food truck that already has enough trouble finding even one parking place. And more driving is The Big One, environmentally speaking.

Dear City Hall: To legislate is human; to recalibrate, divine. Let the food trucks graze, dammit.