In response to The Food Sage’s Question of the Week: ‘Are food trucks encouraging bad eating habits?’ the consensus is ‘no’, as long as we’re tucking into these gourmet tidbits in moderation and burning off some calories following these road warriors from site to site.
That last sassy point was made by Helen from Grab Your Fork, who says: “I don’t think they necessarily encourage bad eating habits – think of all those calories burned walking there, waiting in queue and then standing up to eat!”
The exclamation mark and smiley face at the end of the comment suggests Helen’s having a little fun. But she might actually have a point, particularly with true food truck groupies in mind who follow these mobile tuck boxes around town.
If, on the other hand, you’re like me and only ever visit the Eat Art Truck that parks right outside of my office once a week, then the journey from the desk to street, via the lift, is unlikely to lead to any calorie loss. For me, this mobile takeaway is about convenience — and convenience food typically gets a bad wrap, which is why i posed the question. So what did other readers think?
Most answers tapped into the idea of balance: in other words it’s okay to indulge in takeaway food of this kind, as long as we don’t do it excessively.
Marissa from New Jersey in the US says: “It comes down to moderation (as does so much in life). That means healthy eating most of the time, and splurging at other times.” Amanda from Lambs Ears & Honey points out that in Adelaide the trucks move around a lot, so it’s “difficult to make them a daily habit” — which is a good thing.
Only one reader, Catriona, believes the food truck she frequents is improving her eating habits. Disenchanted with much of the affordable food available in Sydney after work, she seeks out the Agape organic food truck, which she says offers “healthy, nourishing street food”, the opportunity to spontaneously meet up with friends, or sit and enjoy the view across “one of the most beautiful harbours in the world”.
“I love to share food, eat around a table, especially in my home, but it is not always possible,” she says. “Eating alone in the city at night wasn’t fun until City of Sydney food trucks arrived … [they’re] great for spontaneity and no-fuss eating, leaving time and money to really appreciate a proper sit down meals with friends and family.”
This underscores the idea that all food trucks are not created equal: some offer much healthier dishes than others. But Catriona also touches on an important element: the shared, family, sit-down meal. One of the “unhealthy” eating habits i had in mind when i posed the question was eating on the run, or eating solo — away from the home. The family meal has suffered over the years as work invades our personal lives, and social and demographic changes take hold. Are food trucks encouraging the diminution of the family meal?
Eha thinks the trucks encourage less conviviality.
“To me preparing, eating and sharing food is one of life’s greatest pleasures: sitting down at a nicely laid table, glass of wine in hand, music in the background and interesting conversation/debate going on. Somehow I cannot see that happening whilst afoot.”
She has a point, but to counter that last week i saw a father buying his teenage sons a meal from Eat Art Truck, which they sat down on the grass and ate together. And as Catriona points out food trucks encourage spontaneity and catching up with friends.
Anna from The Littlest Anchovy believes the trucks “encourage us to stop and linger a little longer out in the fresh air”, which is preferable to eating in “the bowels” of an underground.
I couldn’t agree more. On work days I usually eat my lunch at the desk, crumbs and all. With the recent arrival of Eat Art Truck outside of the office one day a week, i’ve taken to buying my lunch there and eating it as i sit on the grass overlooking the water. That’s got to be healthier than eating at the desk, right?