An Economist's Argument for Food Trucks | Bleader

Friday, September 10, 2010

An Economist's Argument for Food Trucks

Posted By on 09.10.10 at 05:31 PM

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It's not just foodies rallying for food trucks. In the Boston Globe, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser argues that good food trucks make good cities, and that they're a potentially cost-effective, comparatively low-risk medium for culinary experimentation when real-estate prices are high:

Food trucks are a natural part of the innovative culinary process and they make particular sense for Boston. Boston is a walking city — built on a human scale — and it fits perfectly with eateries that sell on a street corner. Boston is a magnet for immigrants, who often have the skill to create a great meal but not the capital to set up a full restaurant. Boston has a dearth of affordable real estate, and food trucks are a small-saving way of delivering new food options.

[snip]

Controlling public space and protecting public health are legitimate reasons for regulation, but the loudest voices against food trucks often come from restaurateurs complaining about competition. Preserving the monopoly power of local eateries is a terrible reason to restrict food trucks.

"Monopoly power" seems like a bit of a stretch—the restaurant industry, being hypercompetitive within itself, seems more like an interest group than a monopoly—but otherwise it's a reasonable point.

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