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Food Trucks Getting Graded

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I recently read an article on Nations Restaurant News that made me happy for the mobile food vendors out in Los Angeles. A new ordinance passed that requires all mobile food vendors in unincorporated Los Angeles to post their food inspection letter grades on their trucks.

The vendors will be inspected twice annually and must score above a “C” or else be subject closure, just like regular “brick and mortar” restaurants. The mobile food vendors actually seem to welcome this grading scale, as it should bring their formidable market some legitimacy.

Dosa Food Truck by ricardodiaz11, on Flickr

I agree.  This will perhaps help convince otherwise picky buyers to try out something a little different. I hope that those who haven’t eaten Korean BBQ, or soulful Asian food like Dimanddensum, a delightful, high-quality mobile food vendor in Cleveland, do soon.  Street food is a wonderful thing, and gives people cheap, neat (and often “mom and pop”) alternatives to sit-down restaurants.

I grew up and worked in Miami, where food truck vendors would come up to one’s office and offer freshly-made empanadasalfajorespastelitos de guayaba, and other goodies (hello, Cuban coffee!). But my fondest mobile food memories were formed in Bangkok, a city well-known for its delicious street food. My friends and I landed at 4 a.m. on a Monday.  The first thing we did after getting to the hotel was walk to the nearest pad thai vendor and indulge.  We never got sick, thanks to one of the golden rules of eating street food: follow the crowds!

Of course, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority inspected the stalls there periodically, and one should always keep an eye out for use of plastic gloves, refrigeration, and good hygiene.  In a similar vein, the growing food vendor movement in the States can only be helped by the sorts of grades given out by that L.A. ordinance. 

I’m now living close to Cleveland, where Mayor Frank Jackson proposed the Cleveland Pilot Food Cart Program (in 2009) to offer loans to entrepreneurs hoping to start a food cart business. The legislation passed, and the city offered 10 loans as part of the program, according to the Plain Dealer.  I don’t know what the street vendors will do come winter, but I’m looking forward to the new cuisines likely to be available up until the snow falls!

Photo credit: ricardodiaz11

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