How To Start a Green Lunch Truck

For many years, lunch trucks have had a reputation as a great source of food that is cheap, but not necessarily that tasty or nutritious. Recently, however, lunch trucks have undergone a bit of a renaissance, and an increasing number of cities and towns are now being served by lunch trucks offering gourmet food that is fast and inexpensive.

One growing niche market within the lunch truck industry is for lunch trucks offering fresh, local, organic foods. As more and more consumers become aware of the environmental and health benefits of eating locally grown, organic foods, the market is expanded to continue to expand, and lunch trucks are well placed to take advantage because they are often able to offer lower prices than traditional restaurants, allowing them to bring organic foods to a wider audience.

Choosing organic, local foods isn’t the only way a lunch truck business can go green! A few more ideas include running the truck on biodiesel or used vegetable oil, using compostable disposables to serve food, and printing menus and marketing materials on recycled paper.

Starting a Lunch Truck Business

Lunch trucks have relatively high start-up costs, typically $80,000 or more to purchase and/or retrofit a truck, but the costs are lower than starting a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant.

A bigger challenge for many new lunch truck businesses is the issue of permits and parking. Lunch truck regulations vary widely between different cities, and in some cases even different parts of the same city. In some cases, even if the truck has appropriate permits, it can be asked to move in response to complaints from nearby restaurants.

Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier than ever for customers to find their favorite trucks, even following an unexpected move. Social media is especially useful – many lunch trucks now have Twitter and/or Facebook accounts allowing them to offer up to the minute location information to fans and followers.

Three Green Lunch Trucks Serving Great Green Meals on the Go

green-truckThe Los Angeles-based Green Truck offers gourmet meals made from fresh, local, organic ingredients. Green Truck’s commitment to environmental responsibility goes far beyond its choice of food: Green Truck’s commissary is solar-powered and its truck runs on used vegetable oils from the Green Truck itself and other local restaurants. Food is served with compostable and biodegradable dishes, containers, and cutlery. In addition to its street food business, the Green Truck also offers gourmet green event catering and food delivery services. The ever-changing menu includes breakfast and lunch treats such as banana pancakes with coconut-agave syrup, citrus-marinated tilapia skewers with red onion and baby eggplant, falafel wrap with cool tzatziki, and the signature “Mother Trucker” vegan burger with beet relish.

ontheflyWashington, DC-based On the Fly is an eco-lunch truck offering fast and delicious meals with a social conscience. On the Fly “smartkarts” are American-made, zero emission electric trucks. On the Fly uses primarily local and organic foods, and serves its meals with eco-friendly packaging. On the Fly also operates several “smartkafes” around the DC area, which offer the same great food and eco-friendly business practices in a non-mobile setting.

rolirotiFounded by the son of a Swiss Master Butcher, San Francisco-based RoliRoti offers luscious European-style rotisserie made from sustainably-farmed meats, including pastured chicken, local free range lamb, and heritage pork. Side dishes feature seasonal organic produce such as rosemary roasted potatoes. RoliRoti also offers event catering. Check out this profile of the business by the Wall Street Journal:


Main Image Credit: avlxyz

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  1. dinesh thiru says:

    So, I have to say that I completely agree on the green lunch truck business taking off.

    I run a green purchasing co-operative that helps businesses get access to discounts on eco supplies, including compostable food packaging, and we’ve seen a number of trucks from all different parts of the country reach out to us: LA, Salt Lake City, Portland, etc, etc.

    I’ve found the owners to be a pretty cool bunch of people as well. I’ve spoken with many of them and they’re very serious about sustainability when it comes to their food (and their business)… and as you’ve said, some are doing very cool creative things to go above and beyond on the green front (e.g., installing solar panels on their trucks).

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