Food Trucks

Anti-Food Truck Meddling Ends Up Ruining Miami Farmer's Market

The unintended consequences of not letting consumers have what they want


Anybody objecting to a gelato truck should be treated like the monster he is

In Cutler Bay, a town of about 40,000 in the Miami area, food truck regulations ended up ruining a nearby farmer's market.

According to the Miami Herald, the Cutler Bay Farmer's Market ran every Sunday for the past two years. A handful of food trucks came to event as well. Somebody anonymously complained to the city about unlicensed vendors (how would an average person know who was or wasn't licensed to do business at a farmer's market? Good question!). It turned out the town had an ordinance that prohibited allowing food trucks at the market, but it wasn't being enforced. So the city sent the market's volunteer manager warnings about it. Rather than booting the food trucks, he shut the whole affair down. The reason he did so is because the food trucks, even though there were only a handful of them, played a huge role in drawing people to the market:

"We don't want to close down the market, but with taking out the food trucks, we are essentially doing just that," said Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin. "If we want this Farmer's Market to survive, we need to have the food trucks there."

Joseph Gangi operates the MetroDeli food truck, which is one of several trucks that frequented the Farmer's Market. He said this is another example of food trucks being unjustifiably ostracized.

"Food trucks get treated like lepers all over," Gangi said, "even though we provide a more sanitary way to provide food for people, more so than the open vendors at these markets."

Residents and council members, such as Sochin, said that without the food trucks there wouldn't have been enough traffic for the market. The trucks, in essence, served as an advertising tool.

Here's a defense from the kind of resident who doesn't like those nasty food trucks (and also incorrectly thinks he understands how markets work):

Other residents didn't want the market to rely on food trucks to attract patrons.

"If logistically it doesn't work, then it's a failed business," said Alexander Volsiso. "We don't want a food truck invasion."

Who is this "we," Mr. Volsiso? Obviously a significant number of Cutler Bay residents do want them because they're going to the farmer's market to give them money. Also, if you, for example, banned hamburgers in Cutler Bay, would you simply blather, "It's a failed business," when McDonald's shuts its doors? A business that fails because of government intervention is not a good choice to express one's knowledge of markets.

The farmer's market has a Facebook page where a post from yesterday indicates it will be back this weekend. It does not state whether food trucks will be there.

(Hat tip to Justin Pearson of the Institute for Justice's Florida Chapter)

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  1. “If logistically it doesn’t work, then it’s a failed business,” said Alexander Volsiso. “We don’t want a food truck invasion.”

    Tulpa’s family name is Volsiso?

    1. That quote is semantically the same if you substituted the n-word for ‘food truck.’

      1. “nudnick”?

  2. A business that fails because of government intervention is not a good choice to express one’s knowledge of markets.

    It’s a perfect indicator.

    1. +1 beating me to the punch

  3. “even though we provide a more sanitary way to provide food for people, more so than the open vendors at these markets.”

    Food trucks trying to fuck over the open vendors. I could see it coming from miles away.

  4. Market failure!

  5. “prohibiting food trucks at the Farmer’s Market”

    Something tells me that’s not accurate. I tend to doubt that the ordinance was specific to that. It’s more likely a general prohibition, one that might very well not hold up to a court challenge.

  6. Huh, my old stomping grounds. Though “Cutler Bay” didn’t exist back then, it was just part of the Cutler Ridge area.

  7. Phoenix has some great food truck gatherings.

  8. I’m involved in the local food movement in Miami. We had 29 markets here this growing season. Now, while I go exclusively for local, synthetic chemical produce that was picked (usually) the day before–I get my raw milk and pastured meats from a food club–not everyone is looking for that.

    We have many markets who would have 2-3x the number of customers if they had more prepared foods, more options for a meal; even barbeque cooking so that the smell permeated the neighborhood. Fortunately, someone involved at the state level has been working to eliminate a lot of the regulations, our problem is at the local level. Our local food movement exploded 2 in size years ago; take away those local regulations and the real explosion will occur. And you’d get a whole lot of people off of government assistance. (Food businesses often require the least amount of capital so they’re ideal for the poor.)

  9. The USDA is actively working to provide small merchants in farmer’s markets with devices to accept SNAP/EBT payments using a cell phone – talk about mixed messages

    1. They could offer 60 cents on the dollar cash and undercut the ghettomarts.

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