Explore How You Can Eat Well at a Food Truck

Nutritious food trucks are not an urban myth.


Healthy Food

(Lucky Business / Shutterstock.com)

The  warm summer weather is bringing more and more people outdoors. And that means it’s food truck season. These kitchens on wheels can be found on city streets and outdoor events. The trucks offer a wide variety of fare from burritos to ice cream and everything in between. The food is inexpensive and easily accessible but can you actually get a healthy meal at a food truck? 

While food carts have been around for hundreds of years, food trucks are a newer invention with the first one – the Wienermobile – hitting the streets in 1936, according to Prestige Food Trucks. The modern food trucks began in 1974 when Raul Martinez bought an old ice cream truck and began selling tacos out of it.

But the food truck revolution started in 2008 with a truck called Kogi BBQ in LA,  according to the blog Eat This, Not That. And the trend skyrocketed from there. But like most fast food, the fare may not be good for you.

“Most foods you’re getting when you go out to eat are not going to have the right balance of nutrients,” Dr Deborah Cohen, physician scientist at RAND Corporation, told Healthline. “They are going to have too many calories, too much salt, too much sugar, and too much fat. That’s why Cohen set out to find out if food truck owners would offer healthier food.

Healthy food truck studies
In 2013, Cohen and her team chose to approach Latin food trucks in LA – called loncheras – to see if there was interest in serving food that was nutritious and good for you, according to Healthline. While 22 owners were interested, 11 participated in the study and they received a small subsidy.

The food operators worked with nutritionists that met MyPlate guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture, for proteins, fruits and vegetables. Recipes were modified to use whole grains and lower fat options were used.

While many of the customers still chose their usual meals, and the healthier choices only accounted for 2 percent of the overall sales, the meals were still considered a hit and showed that there was a market for healthier fare.

In 2012, researchers in Oakland, California bought a food truck and sold fresh, precut fruit at elementary schools. Even though it was competing against ice cream and candy vendors, the truck sold around 18 bags of fruit every afternoon in just 30-minutes.

Making healthy choices
If you want to indulge in food truck fare there are some easy tips on how to do so, according to Eat This, Not That. You can choose to eat leaner meat, like switching to chicken, turkey, or fish instead of eating beef. So choose a taco with a healthier meat, since it comes with vegetables and a corn tortilla, it is a healthy balanced meal.

Choose a veggie or vegan option. There are plenty of healthy plant-based proteins so you can enjoy trendy options like poke bowls. There are vegan food trucks from coast to coast in the US. One vegan food truck, gmonkey in Connecticut serves vegan “farm 2 street” fare.

A very simple way to make your food truck experience healthier, is to eat standing up, suggests Eat This, Not That. That’s because standing is healthier for you, helps you digest your food, and could prevent the acid reflux that comes from eating spicy food. There’s no reason to pass up the food truck experience if you make healthy choices.

9 Simple Food Swaps to Eat Healthier
How to Make Healthy Eating Choices While Traveling
Jaden Smith Celebrated His 21st Birthday by Feeding the Homeless