Kitchen Campaigns: For Mobile Ones, Against Temporary Ones

Food has always been political, but seems to be so now more than ever, what with issues like school lunches and food labeling taking the spotlight on the national stage. And so it should come as no surprise that New York's gourmet food trucks have gone from being culinary rebels on the fringe of the restaurant industry to taking an active part in the legislative process.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 32 gourmet food trucks have banded together to form an official trade group and hired a professional lobbyist to go to bat for them against the city's lawmakers. Trucks like Rickshaw, Wafels & Dinges, and Mexicue have charged the firm Capalino + Co. with pushing for speedier licensing and the right to park and sell at metered spots.

It's a rather calculated tactic, especially in contrast to the grassroots campaign launched by community activists to fight another growing food fad.

The Post has a piece on residents' efforts to put a stop to pop-up restaurants in Soho and Noho. But it isn't just high-profile pop-ups like John Fraser's What Happens When that have locals pissed off. They're also against the idea of the nonprofit Housing Works installing a temporary café on the sidewalk outside its used bookstore on Crosby Street. Enter a third group, Transportation Alternatives, which supports the pop-ups because they mean more pedestrians and less cars. We like food trucks and pop-ups as much as the next food lover, but, as one Nolitan put it, these campaigns inspire visions of the city as a mall food court. How much is too much when it comes to nontraditional outdoor dining options?

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