In major metropolitan areas across the United States, food-vending trucks have become a common sight. For the truck merchants selling everything from fresh vegetables to fast food to fancy meals, they are an easy, low-cost way to run a business, and cost a fraction of what it would take to start a restaurant. But how good are they for the environment? One brand of food truck was built to be "green."
In the hills above the Los Angeles suburb of Malibu, the hootenanny was just getting started.
Shoes were optional as people danced to the rhythms of local bands and savored the local cuisine. The event was hosted by the "Green Truck" - a bistro on wheels dedicated to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner - and selling food that's made that way, too:
"The goal is to make it accessible and affordable for everyone to eat organic food," noted Mitchel Collier, the co-founder of the Green Truck. Every item on its menu is made with organic, locally grown produce harvested within 160 kilometers.
One example: the "mother trucker" veggie burger, a signature item made with organic vegetables and topped off with a creamy homemade sauce.
"Why organic? Because it's respect for what gives you life. Mother Earth gives you life," added Collier.
The company's advertising slogan is "Healing the Planet, One Meal at a Time" - and that applies to its trucks as well as its menu. Instead of gasoline, Green Trucks run on bio-diesel fuel and waste vegetable oil left over from their own cookers.
The trucks have receptacles in front for biodegradable trash - a kind of mobile compost pile. That compost is sent back to the farmers who supply the Green Trucks with their produce. The utensils, plates, and packaging are either recyclable or biodegradable.
And the company's commissary, where the food is prepared each day, is solar-powered.
The Green Truck's ecological initiatives have struck a chord with consumers.
BENJAMIN KILMER (CUSTOMER): "I like the fact that I feel good about eating what I'm eating. It's nice to be conscious about what you're putting in your body."
MICK KELLEHER (CUSTOMER): "We're supporting something that is part of a bigger cause so when I feel full I feel good."
The business started more than five years ago when Collier, a former model and actor, joined forces with Kam Miceli, a former Wall Street banker. Both had strong feelings about the environment, and both wanted to take a stand for what they believe in, assuring a healthy planet for future generations. And so Green Truck was born.
"Everyone eats, everyone lives on this planet and it's the only thing that's the baseline for everyone is through food and water," said Collier.
By its third year of operations, Green Truck was generating a profit. Today, the company operates five trucks: three in Los Angeles, one in San Diego and one in New York.
David Holtze runs the San Diego Green Truck. He says interest in this kind of sustainable food operation is spreading, with business inquries coming in from across the country and around the world.
"Just last week someone from Australia emailed saying, 'I'd love to have a green truck in our city. How can I become involved?'" said Holtze.
Holtze says he hopes Green Trucks will one day be as common as fast food restaurants:
"That's the direction we see for Green Truck: making it as plug-and-play as possible… so we can be like a franchise business. So instead of a McDonalds in your town, you have Green Truck," Holtze added.
In addition to bringing local and organic cuisine directly to the community, Green Truck's founders are committed to spreading a bigger message - urging people to respect the Earth and respect each other,
"We're all one, there's nothing that separates us; no religion, no boundaries. It's all air, earth and water and we're on it, and we're together," Collier explained.
And it's the food, Collier says, that connects us all.