Food trucks an alternative to fast food

Nikki McPheron
Mesa Legend

Most people either love or hate food trucks. Some serve tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, while others serve hamburgers or grilled cheese sandwiches.In recent years, the concept of owning and buying from food trucks has become increasingly popular. Speaking with MCC students Jason Moore and Nick Thomes, both stated that if they were hungry, had no plans, and saw a food truck, they were likely to eat there. When asked what the appeal is for students to food trucks, Thomes went on to state, “It’s a ‘mom and pop place’. It is more likely to have better just-made food.”

Food Truck
Photos by Tania Ritko

However, how healthy can they actually be?  They are simply fast food on wheels, and although many people know that fast food isn’t good for them, a majority of people in the United States are still addicted to unhealthy foods.
In an interview with Lori Zienkewicz, a nutrition specialist at Mesa Community College, she stated, “Food trucks aren’t all bad, but you have to treat them like any other restaurant. They have a menu and from that menu you have to make good choices.”  Zienkewicz went on to talk about portion sizes.   She said, “They tend to have huge portion sizes more than what anyone needs, so if you are with a friend split the meal.”

However, Zienkewicz shared some her thoughts on food truck food courts, which may actually be better than a standalone food truck.  “Food truck food courts are better with variety; they provide more options, and tend to offer some for vegans and those who eat gluten free.” Zienkewicz then warned about hunger as opposed to appetite.
“Hunger is a need whereas appetite is a want, so after eating from the quesadilla truck, don’t let your mind trick you into eating another 5,000 calorie meal at the good looking waffle truck for dessert,” she said.
In addition, along with food trucks comes bottled soda.  “During a heavy calorie meal we don’t need to waste 500cal on liquid; settle for water and never feel guilty,” she said.

IMG_5108When asked if water flavor packets were okay, Zienkewicz did not recommend them because they have 43,000 percent vitamin intake that our bodies shouldn’t have and suggested that for the person who isn’t fond of the tastelessness of water, go for non-calorie iced tea.   For college students, cost and time are always a concern when getting food, which makes the convenience and affordability of a food truck even more desirable.  Zienkewicz recommends that the best thing any busy person can do is to plan ahead instead of settling for convenience like a food truck and to be very careful with quantities.

Despite all the recommended restrictions, people still have options for a healthy yet affordable meal.
Zienkewicz also recommends eating with the seasons, meaning picking out fruits and vegetables that are in abundance. This is more cost effective and the items are typically on sale.  Avoiding the appeal of food trucks and starting the process of eating healthier is easier than it may seem.  As Zienkewicz states, “Starting anywhere is good. With fruits and vegetables, start with canned and frozen foods for price convenience; then move onto fresh produce.”
“Always strive for five colors on a plate of food, if five is unachievable, settle for three while keeping in mind tan is not a color when dealing with meat, mashed potatoes, and gravy,” Zienkewicz said.  Eating at a food truck won’t be the death of anyone if they keep it in moderation. However, just like any fast food restaurant, abundance can lead to negative outcomes.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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