Government-Mandated Broccoli: Food Truck Edition

As noted earlier today at Reason 24/7, The City of Madison, Wis., is considering whether to require food trucks serve vegetarian options. Based on the Wisconsin State Journal’s reporting, it doesn’t look like a decision is pending or even likely, but you never know with those government types:

The city's Vending Oversight Committee, as part of its annual review of food carts, on Wednesday will discuss whether carts must offer vegetarian menu items.

Although the idea is on the agenda for discussion, there is no formal proposal for the requirement and the committee will not be voting on the matter Wednesday.

The suggestion came from a city food cart reviewer who is a vegetarian, street vending coordinator Warren Hansen said.

"I always tell new applicants to include at least one vegetarian item because there's a demand for it," Hansen said. "It's just good business."

But actually requiring the option is probably impractical, Hansen said.

Well, if only practicality were a consideration with most government regulations. A shame Hansen doesn’t realize it’s also inappropriate, and if there were enough market demand for vegetarian items from food trucks, the food trucks wouldn’t need the government to tell them to provide them.

To me, the more remarkable part of the story is that the city has food truck “raters” to score the carts on some point system based on “food, apparatus, and originality.” This is not a health code score or something that serves any sort of government function. The city is scoring the quality of food served by food trucks and then advertising a rankings list. The City of Madison is essentially in the food review business. There are even bonus points for “seniority” to provide that extra government-at-work touch.

(Hat tip to Reason 24/7 reader Matthew Begemann)

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  • Lord Humungus||

    When I went vegetarian - temporarily, mind you - I actually gained weight. Stuffing yourself with carbs to make up for protein isn't the healthiest way to live.

  • ||

    Nope. The USDA Food Pyramid is a WMD, IMMO.

    Vegan is a terrible way to live.

  • $park¥||

    Dispensing medical advice on the Internet? You better watch yourself.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    What does the food pyramonster have to do with veganism? They have meat and dairy in prominent places.

  • ||

    Meat is not a part of veganism, Tulpa. Lactovegetarians do not eschew dairy products, and neither do ovolactovegetarians, as they eat both egg products and dairy.

    As the Metal Masked One indicated, increasing your intake of carbs can be quite detrimental to one's health.

    On their lovely little guide carbs are given most emphasis, while fats, oils, proteins and dairy are given much lesser emphasis (particularly saturated fats). The body is going to want to make up for that lost protein somewhere and oils and fats are important for structural integrity of the body from the cellular level up.

    The Pyramonster, as you rightly call it, and the dietary guidelines emphasizes this. I happen to greatly disagree, and would upend The Pyramonster.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I always thought it was weird that the worst foods were on top. Maybe it should be a funnel instead, though that would imply you should eat the worst stuff first.

    I think we can all agree that the silly thing BO replaced the pyramonster with is even worse, though.

  • ||

    Bourdain is 100% right about vegetarians.

  • R C Dean||

    If memory serves, I was still technically a vegetarian when I shot my first deer.

    Standing on my back porch, drinking coffee, on the opening day of the deer season in rural Wisconsin.

    Went to a Badgers game that afternoon. I believe they beat Ohio State.

    One of the great days.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Most people in the world live on a diet that's overwhelmingly dominated by carbs.

    Exorcise is the key.

  • ||

    Yes, poor people. The rich have always eaten meat while the poor lived on grains. This goes back to pre-history.

  • ||

    Fucking bureaucrats. If they go through with it, just serve grass. That'll teach the fuckers.

  • Generic Stranger||

    I'd serve them a plate of lettuce. Nothing else, just boring, plain iceberg lettuce. The only salad dressing I'd stock would be Ranch. You know, the stuff made with lots of egg and milk. Just to piss off the vegans even more.

  • Big 'Orra||

    But I was promised that the government would NEVER make us eat broccoli!

  • Tim||

    MAdison? That place is a dump.

  • rho||

    I am in favor of mandating veggie tempura on all food trucks, because veggie tempura is fucking delicious.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    And food truck falafel too.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Jesus Fucking Christ. If you're a vegetarian you shouldn't expect to be served the shite you demand from out of a truck that has limited space for normal, meat-based food choices.

    (Disclaimer: I admit to having possibly unreasonable animus toward vegetarians for the hassle they are in almost all social situations.)

  • $park¥||

    No, you're good here. There nothing unreasonable about it.

  • ||

    This just proves the patriarchy is savage-minded with its adoration of flesh, harking back to the days of the male oppressor in the early Iron Age.

    /Feministing.

  • Big 'Orra||

    Well, if this country was ran by vegetarian women instead of meat-eating men...

    /Airplane II

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    If I had a vending business and was forced to have vegetarian items, I would pour bacon grease in it and laugh all the way to the bank with the money I made by having the best vegetarian food in town.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Can you believe this yogurt is low-fat?"

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    And if vegetarian items aren't required, and there is a profitable demand for them that is more profitable than the opportunity cost of the non-vegetarian things that they take the place of, then I would probably voluntarily have honest bacon-free vegetarian items. See how this works?

  • Brandybuck||

    "Are you sure this salad dressing is fat-free?"

    "It sure looks skinny to me!"

  • Shmurphy||

    That's Not Yogurt!

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There are a lot of food trucks with veggie dishes here in Pittsburgh.

    If you're a religious vegan, though, I wouldn't trust that there hasn't been any contamination with animal proteins while they're spinning around trying to fill the styrofoam boxes.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I saw on television where they shined some kind of light in a kitchen sanity demonstration after cooking something, that showed how grease splatters over everything in the kitchen that touches air.

  • ||

    I admit to having possibly unreasonable animus toward vegetarians for the hassle they are in almost all social situations.

    While personally most of the vegetarians I have known have been completely non-evangelical about their food preferences, I do believe there is a non-zero percentage who are in it mainly becuase being a picky eater forces people to cater to their needs, and give them the sort of attention they obviously never got from their mother.

  • ||

    Depends on how the mandate was worded. If all the food truck has to do is have one non-meat item, include a dessert -- or not include the meat on one item that currently includes it.

    Trying to write a law that couldn't be easily gamed would be a fool's errand.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Base dishes will be modified to be meat-free upon request, where practical, at no change to the base dish price.

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    Until they come up with government-mandated ribeye steak, they can go fuck themselves.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    You won't want any ribeye steak from anywhere when the government sets the bar for it.

  • Voros McCracken||

    "We use only the finest eyes in our ribeye steak"

  • albo||

    Ooof. So stupid. If offering a vegetarian option is "good business," then food trucks will do it. But they'll decide that based on their customers.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "There are even bonus points for 'seniority' to provide that extra government-at-work touch."

    I'm afraid you can't have Lizette, because Bertha here has seniority.

    Oops, wrong punch line.

  • RPR2||

    just offer the meatless pulled pork sandwich at the same price. "here's your 2 pieces of bread asshole. that'll be $6.95."

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I've had it with vegetarians' impractical smug shit. Make those pussies go be a burden on each other and not everyone else.

  • Bee Tagger||

    May the food trucks take pigs that would have been slaughtered and train them to prepare the vegetarian options? Their payment would be not being slaughtered for non-vegetarian meals.

  • ||

    The suggestion came from a city food cart reviewer who is a vegetarian

    Okay. Obviousness aside, WTF is a fucking vegetarian doing as a food-anything reviewer? "I ordered the most boring, useless item on the menu. It was mediocre." God, vegetarians are stupid. (*I say this as a former vegetarian, so it's not racist or whatever.)

  • ||

    Your life before meat must have been so empty and grey. How did you survive?

  • ||

    I don't like to think about the beforetimes.

  • ||

    Seriously. A food critic who doesn't eat meat is like a film critic who refuses to watch anything unless it's in black and white.

  • ||

    Also, ...

    "I'm a black-and-white only movie reviewer, and my suggestion is: require all movie studios to make at last one black and white film a year. Otherwise, I'll be out of a job. Cause I'm a fucking idiot and I chose a career that is fundamentally at odds with my lifestyle choices."

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Evil me wants to pass a corresponding law requiring all vegetarian establishments to provide at least one carnitarian meal option. Yeah, it's still something the government shouldn't be doing, but can you imagine the tears of all the vegans when their vegetarian only restaurant is forced to serve steaks?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Evil me just wants to use bacon grease as salad dressing.

  • ||

    Right, what about the people on low-carb diets?

    Do you know how hard it is to eat a low-carb diet in a vegan restauraunt? How are you supposed to get your protein and fat without meat, eggs, or dairy?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Hansen, maybe you should start your own business, so you can mind it.

  • Brandybuck||

    Twenty five years ago in college I worked at a pizza place that served pizza by the slice. You could get pepperoni or cheese by the slice, but any other pizzas needed to be full pizzas. One lunchtime a law student came in and threatened to sue us because we did not have a vegetarian option. He said the cheese pizza did not count because it was just pepperoni with the pepperoni removed. He made a very big production out of it, loudly proclaiming that he was a *law* *student* and thus knew the law, and demanded our names and stuff for the court papers he was going to file.

    I have hated law students (and ex-law students) to this day.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    He went on to become an ADA code fishing ambulance chaser.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    if there were enough market demand for vegetarian items from food trucks, the food trucks wouldn’t need the government to tell them to provide them.

    This is a tad dogmatic. Even if there were as much demand for vegetarian items as, say, Polish sausage, it's still easier for for vendors to offer Polish sausage because it uses the same buns and toppings as hot dogs and other popular menu items. Whereas vegetarian items would likely require a whole bunch of toppings and containers all their own, increasing the likelihood of having to throw food out, etc.

    Note that despite the fact that hot dogs are popular, McDonalds does not offer hot dogs. Why?

    And while I don't think it's a good idea for the city to require this, fact is they administer the streets on behalf of the public so they can make any rule they want for those who do business on the street, as long as it doesn't violate BoR.

  • ||

    This is so absurd.
    So a hot-dog stand will now be REQUIRED to have a stash of tofurky-dogs just in case a poor benighted vegetarian comes along? Geez we can't have people discriminating against vegetarians by serving only meat can, we? They're like disabled people, they need people to be coerced to have special options so they can have the food choices they like. Fucking babies.

    Hey vegans, if you don't like what's on the menu, brown bag, it assholes.

    "Waaa, the meat-pie food cart doesn't want to make me a tofurky pie! Waaa! That's so mean! wAAAA Mommy goverment, make them make me some tofurky! I want it! I want it! I want it! "

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If they don't like the property owner's rules, maybe they should move their business to someone else's property.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Like moving the truck from the street where the "public" gets to be the property owner to the gym parking lot if they get permission from the gym to do that?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yes.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    What if the gym parking lot is within 9,000 U.S. feet of a restaurant?

    I know, if the food truck owner doesn't like whatever democracy tells them to do, maybe they should just not have a business.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    If I owned a food truck and was forced to add a veggie option to my otherwise limited space, I would make sure the veggie option tasted as vile as possible, to dissuade people from ordering it.

    Why the hell would a real vegetarian want to eat something prepared by someone who doesn't want to serve vegetarian food anyway? Much less PAY for the privledge of having someone serve you a meal of substandard, indifferently prepared falafel.

    If the local food selections are limited, maybe make it easier for more food trucks to work in the area, so that some vegetarian can set up a food truck that specializes in vegetarian food.

  • Eric L||

    A meal of a non-diet cola, french fries(fried in Crisco) and a popsicle is vegitarian, but I doubt this is what city's Vending Oversight Committee had in mind.

  • Robert||

    Who else thought Flying Pig was an amusement ride?

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