Food Trucks

Government-Mandated Broccoli: Food Truck Edition

Madison, Wis., knows better than the market


The Madison Vending Oversight Committee knows better

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)