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Street Treats

2007_04_02streetmeat.jpgDowntown corners are speckled with hot dog vendors selling wieners to hungry pedestrians. There are no salad bar carts, no roti carts, no souvlaki carts, and no Chinese bun carts. Food vendors on the street sell hot diggity dogs due to Toronto’s strict public health bylaws:

Food preparation must be limited to the reheating of precooked meat products in the form of wieners or similar sausage products to be served on a bun. Hazardous raw meats (hamburger patties, steaks, shish kabobs, farmers sausage and chicken) must not be cooked on the cart.

As for street eats, it’s wieners or nothing. Health-conscious and multiethnic food lovers must go elsewhere. There are also stipulations for the vending cart itself, which include policies on umbrellas and condiment protection. The street food vending bylaws differ from the regulations for preparing food inside of a vehicle. Kitchens on wheels such as Chinese food trucks on the U of T campus and ice cream trucks are permitted to sell their food since cooking, pouring, dicing, and slicing in a vehicle is acceptable.
The Street Food Vending Project run by Multistory Complex may help instigate changes for food-on-the-street choices. Multistory Complex, a wee non-profit run by Katie Rabinowicz and Andrea Winkler, involves commonfolk in urban planning through education and implementation of schemes. In addition to monthly Snack Chats—casual discussions given by our city’s food experts—Multistory Complex is hosting a street vending cart design competition. Participants should design a mobile structure for preparing and selling nutritious, multiethnic and affordable food (the deadline is June 15). While cart designers are ecouraged to take current food laws into consideration, proposals should explore alternatives to wieners and umbrellas. Prototypes of winning designs will be exhibited in October at Alphabet City’s FOOD Festival. Multistory Complex will be working with local farmers, foodists, vendors and city officials in attempt to change the current regulations on the city’s street food situation. John Fillion, Toronto city councillor and chair of Toronto Board of Health, is already on the case, attempting to modify street food laws to bring ethnically diverse and healthier food to the streets. Contact Multistory Complex to get involved with the cart design competition or Snack Chats, which will be hosted by Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication and Design. We could soon be eating empanadas on the go! Whoa!
Photo by the mkt from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

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