Browsing articles in "food cart"
Feb 6, 2015
Jim Benson

SE Portland food carts busted for buying stolen meat

PORTLAND, Ore. – Investigators busted the owners of two Portland food carts for knowingly buying stolen meat, soda, utensils, and other supplies that had been shoplifted from local Safeway stores.

Renuka Prasad and Wing Fai Lee, who both own food carts in Southwest Portland, face attempted theft by receiving charges for buying stolen items.

The investigation started in the fall of 2014 when Safeway found that shoplifters were selling stolen goods to food cart operators. They worked with the Portland Police Bureau’s White Collar Crimes Unit to investigate the thefts.

They learned that shoplifters sold several stolen items to Ren’s Bubble Tea, owned by Prasad, and to Lee’s cart Chop Chop.

During the investigation, detectives found other carts who would have willingly bought stolen goods, while other carts refused to deal with the undercover shoplifter.

(An earlier version of this story stated Wing and Prasad’s food carts were in Southeast Portland, they were actually located in Southwest Portland)

Below: Booking photos for Renuka Devi Prasad, 48, and Wing Fai Lee, 56. Both were arrested for Attempted Theft by Receiving

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Feb 6, 2015
Jim Benson

Food cart sting reveals stolen meat black market

Investigators say shoplifters are stealing meat from grocery stores and selling it to some food carts for cheap.

It started with a single shoplifter, arrested for meat theft at Safeway in downtown Portland. Safeway investigators said he confessed to pilfering meat to peddle to food carts for cash, and added that he was not the only one running meat, even taking orders from food cart owners who were buying through the back door.

Some shoplifters filled their backpacks with meat, others shoved meat down their pants to get it out of the store, investigators said.

One shoplifter told them he was a drug addict, trying to go straight, and agreed to help show them who would buy and how, investigators said.

Together, they launched an undercover sting operation that would end with two cart operators arrested, and other cart operators ready and willing to buy black market, for-cash-only food, no questions asked.

Renuka Devi Prasad, owner of Ren’s Bubble Tea at SW 10th and Washington was arrested last week, along with Wing Fai Lee, of Chop Chop, just a few carts away from Ren’s.

Investigators said Prasad bought chicken and fish from the undercover sellers multiple times at the back of her cart.

The Problem Solvers asked Prasad about the purchases. She said she did not know the meat was stolen and thought the sellers were from a wholesale company, a legitimate business. However, she said she does not know the name of the company, never asked for a business card, always paid in cash, and never got a receipt.

Prasad told the Problem Solvers that she paid the sellers a “wholesale price” for the meat, about 3/4 of store price.

But investigators said she paid far less, as little as $2 for $9 bags of shrimp.

Investigators also said she did not talk to the sellers as if they were a legitimate business, telling them to step closer to the cart so others would not see, adding, “Be very careful. I don’t want to get in any trouble with the police. I do not want any problems.”

Prasad first told the Problem Solvers that the sellers never said anything to indicate they were stealing. But her story changed as the conversation went on. Later, she said the men did talk about stealing stuff, but she thought it was a joke. Then she said, one of the men told her he had been arrested for stealing fish, and then she told him to “stop” and “don’t come back.”

But investigators have no record of her saying she told them to stop. They said, instead, she continued to ask for more items, even giving them a list, and they returned multiple times to her cart for her to make purchases.

Lee, the operator at Chop Chop, bought meat at least 10 times, including beef, chicken and shrimp, said investigators.

They said he told the sellers to come back at night when it was dark and no one would see.

The Problem Solvers asked to speak to Lee at his cart. He said he bought the meat as a favor to the two men who came to his cart, helping them out if they needed money, and didn’t have time to think about where the meat came from because he was busy cooking.

“I just didn’t have the time to really process all the thing,” he said. “When I do have the time, I just want to sit down and wait for next wave of customers to come.”

Lee said he did not think the meat was stolen, but instead, it was possibly meat that someone bought and could not fully use.

“A lot of people sell the products, like, sometimes they bought it, don’t like it, want to sell it. Sometimes they have extra and they want to sell it,” said Lee.

Lee said the sting was not fair, and Safeway should have simply come to him after the first purchase and told him not to do it.

Stolen or “extra,” food cart owners are not allowed to buy meat from unapproved sources, according to the Multnomah County Health Department, to prevent meat from being left out at unsafe temperatures and making people sick.

(Below: Booking photos for Renuka Devi Prasad, 48, and Wing Fai Lee, 56. Both were arrested for Attempted Theft by Receiving)

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Feb 6, 2015
Jim Benson

Food cart owners under fire defend stolen meat claims

PORTLAND, Ore. – Two Portland food carts served stolen meat to customers, according to police. But the owners of the restaurants on wheels claim it was all a misunderstanding.

Investigators said Renuka Devi Prasad, 48, and Wing Fai Lee, 56, knowingly bought several stolen items from shoplifters for their food carts, which also included soda, oven cleaner and utensils.

“Some of the people shoplifting would steal meat, shove it down their pants, leave the store, and ultimately sell it to a food cart,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau. “They’re using it for food and selling it to other people. So, really not a healthy way to handle meat.”

Prasad and Lee (pictured above) were charged with attempted theft by receiving. On Monday, they were both back at work at their food carts on Southwest 10th Avenue and Washington Street. Prasad owns Ren’s Bubble Tea and Lee owns Chop Chop. Both told KGW they thought they were buying the products from a wholesaler.

“I made a mistake and it’s on me,” Lee said. I was ignorant. I try to see the good in people instead of seeing bad in people. I always believe there is goodness in people.”

Lee added that he never would have bought the items if he realized they were stolen goods.

Simpson said during the investigation, some food cart workers showed an interest in buying stolen items from undercover officers, while others ordered them off the property. The investigation began in the fall of 2014 after a Safeway theft probe indicated that shoplifters were selling their stolen goods to food cart operators.

Lee and Prasad were scheduled to appear in court on March 6 for trial readiness.

Simpson added that no additional food carts were under investigation at this time, but “owners should be aware that investigators will look for this and potentially you could end up in jail.”

Anyone with additional information that may help investigators on this case was urged to contact Detective Brent Christensen at 503-823-0450 or send him an email here: brent.christensen@portlandoregon.gov.

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Jan 20, 2015
Jim Benson

Cart Smarts: Ease digestion with a cultured diet – Post

Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 7:25 am

Cart Smarts: Ease digestion with a cultured diet

Kaitlin Anderson

Post-Bulletin Company, LLC

A 2014 survey by ConAgra Foods discovered that nearly 50 percent of Americans have changed their diet to help improve digestion, with nearly 20 percent doing so in the past year.

I have seen this firsthand in the increase in customers looking for gluten-free foods. While not all of them medically require the diet, many simply choose these products in hopes for improved digestion. This trend toward digestive health marks week number four in my “New Foods for a New Year” series.

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    Kaitlin Anderson is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee North in Rochester. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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      on

      Tuesday, January 20, 2015 7:25 am.

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      Jan 19, 2015
      Jim Benson

      A fresh approach to food

      Grilled sandwiches

      Grilled sandwiches

      Full Plate serves up a variety of grilled and cold sandwiches, soups, chilis, chowders, salads and breakfast sandwiches.

      Full Plate

      Full Plate

      Hewston Young holds son, Mason, as wife and co-owner Elizabeth Young looks on in. The Youngs opened solar-powered Full Plate, an eco-friendly food truck in October and have since moved close to Ross on South Sixth St.

      Hewston Young

      Hewston Young

      Hewston Young cooks up a sandwich on Friday at Full Plate, located near U.S. Cellular.



      Posted: Sunday, January 18, 2015 12:00 am

      A fresh approach to food

      By HOLLY DILLEMUTH
      HN Staff Reporter

      Herald and News

      A local family has brought an eco-friendly flare to the mobile food cart scene in Klamath Falls.

      Hewston Young and Elizabeth Baker’s mobile food trailer, Full Plate, is powered by solar energy and a love for fresh, local ingredients. Noticeable by its bright, baby blue exterior, the mobile food kitchen on wheels is now located on South Sixth Street by Ross Dress For Less.

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          Sunday, January 18, 2015 12:00 am.

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          Jan 18, 2015
          Jim Benson

          How many food carts are too many in downtown Naperville?

          It may be easier to get a treat from an outdoor food cart starting this summer in downtown Naperville.

          Then again, it might not.

          The city council on Tuesday will consider increasing the number of permits for downtown cart vendors from two to three — a proposal that’s drawing decidedly mixed reviews.

          Three businesses have applied for the $275, two-year mobile food cart permits, and a committee of city staff members is recommending they all be approved.

          But the decision may not be that easy because the city’s downtown advisory commission on Thursday recommended the city council reject the request for a permit from a vendor who wants to sell Italian ice.

          The two vendors who held the permits for the past year and a half — John’s Rib House and Joey’s Red Hots — both applied again and are recommended for approval at their same locations, outside the parking garage on Chicago Avenue for the ribs and on Main Street at the entrance to the Riverwalk for the hot dogs.

          Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice, meanwhile, wants to set up shop at the same spot as Joey’s Red Hots. The cart Little Jimmy’s would use is small and could fit within the vending space allowed at the Main Street location, said Allison Laff, planning operations manager.

          Italian ices also would complement the hot dogs and brats Joey’s Red Hots owner Joe Hornbaker has been selling on some summer days for the past few years, Laff said.

          Members of the city’s downtown advisory commission weren’t too pleased when they heard the recommendation for a third permit. They said it contradicted a December 2013 city council decision to amend the then 3-year-old mobile food vendor program to allow two food carts instead of four.

          “That seems like a shift. Didn’t we approve just two?” said Katie Wood, an advisory commission member who is executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance. “I think it’s a stretch, personally, that we’ve gone to three again when we had two locations, so one would assume that meant two vendors.”

          Christine Jeffries, president and CEO of the Naperville Development Partnership, said two downtown dessert businesses — a Jamba Juice smoothie shop and a frozen yogurt place called B Happy Cafe — recently closed, which proves the frozen sweet treats market is saturated.

          City council member Judith Brodhead, who sits on the downtown advisory commission along with council member Joseph McElroy, said it’s not so much about competition as it is about the appearance of supporting a vendor who would show up nearly expense-free on bright sunny days instead of a rent-paying downtown tenant.

          “I really don’t think an Italian ice vendor is going to put anybody out of business, but I understand that symbolically it looks as though you’re supporting somebody who is not renting a space, not paying property taxes,” Brodhead said.

          She and the rest of the downtown advisory commission unanimously made a recommendation opposite of the city staff’s and encouraged the city council to reject the Italian ice vendor’s application for a permit.

          The council will consider the opposing recommendations when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.

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          Jan 17, 2015
          Jim Benson

          Meals a la cart – The Register

          Sharee Powell used to have to battle traffic whichever way she went from her office on Country Club Road if she wanted to grab lunch somewhere.

          The Coburg Road corridor and the area around Valley River Center both offered plenty of options, but navigating lunch-hour traffic was a hassle and could eat up a good chunk of her lunch break no matter which one she picked.

          But last year, based on an employee’s request, Pentagon Federal Credit Union started recruiting food trucks to come to its parking lot at 400 Country Club Road. Right from the start, employees at PenFed and other nearby offices gave the trucks enough business to keep them coming back.

          Powell sums up the main draw in one word.

          “Convenience,” she said as she waited for her food from the Lani Moku Grill cart recently. “Convenience, convenience, convenience. It doesn’t feel as if it takes as much of your lunch break.”

          Today, Michele Tierney, an assistant manager at PenFed, has more interested trucks than she can accommodate.

          That’s been the story around Eugene: The number of trucks has increased by 50 percent over the past five years and consumer demand has increased hand in hand with it. The momentum has been so great that Eugene’s first food cart pod-based beer, wine and cider bar will open next spring on the edge of the Whiteaker neighborhood.

          Trucks and carts have been scattered around town since at least 1980, when Broadway was still closed to traffic and Cart de Frisco was a regular sight on the downtown mall. But the biggest, most sustained increase has been since roughly 2009.

          The county issued permits to 138 mobile food units in 2009. That climbed to 210 this year, an increase of more than 50 percent.

          “Foodie” culture

          The growth in local food trucks has been partly due to an overflow from Portland’s vibrant food cart scene along with the growth of a “foodie” culture locally as well as regionally. They also can cost a tenth — or less — of what it takes to open a restaurant.

          Tierney has witnessed the growth first-hand. She started with one truck coming to PenFed one day a week. And it took work to get that truck. Now, she has a truck or cart lined up each day of the workweek, including a couple on standby, and more that want to get into the rotation.

          The same thing has happened in other parts of Eugene: Once a location develops a steady clientele, demand from truck owners to set up overwhelms available space.

          Social media also has played a big role in the growth of the food-truck industry. A Facebook page for Eugene trucks serves as a convenient clearinghouse for trucks to post their whereabouts and specials, giving predictability to the restaurants on wheels. Most food trucks and carts have their own pages, too, which they say is vital to sustaining a connection with their customer base.

          Kristie Brown said she noted a surge in interest from folks wanting to start up a truck or cart about five years ago.

          “I don’t see that it’s tapered off much,” said Brown, land use supervisor with the City of Eugene. As the recession took hold, newly unemployed people saw food trucks as an opportunity to start a business with less overhead than some other options. In response to the wave of aspiring entrepreneurial chefs, the land use department created a fact sheet to answer the most frequently asked questions and direct people to the proper agencies.

          The trucks and carts are subject to nearly identical standards as restaurants, said Jason Davis, spokesman for Lane County Health Human Services. However, while you can find a restaurant’s inspection score on the county website, you can’t find them for mobile food units. Davis said the county is looking at changing the current scoring system next year so trucks’ inspection scores can also be posted.

          Some come and go

          Kit Tangtrongjita has seen firsthand the growth, and changes, in the food cart business.

          He started Cart de Frisco at Saturday Market in 1979 and began working the old downtown mall a year later. He and his wife, Wanna, plan to open a full-blown restaurant this spring on Franklin Boulevard.

          Tangtrongjita has seen a lot of food trucks and carts come and go over the last 34 years. He also noticed more carts popping up around town about three years ago.

          “I’m so glad to see a lot of them open up,” he said. “It opens up opportunities for people with a good idea.”

          The process to start a mobile food unit has gotten simpler and faster over the years, Tangtrongjita said. He’s also seen a growing acceptance of carts as questions about cleanliness have dissipated. Both developments have contributed to the carts’ continued growth, he said.

          Stephen Sheehan also has witnessed the food-cart market’s growth up close. Sheehan and his wife, Colleen, started the Delacata food cart in 2011. For three years they showed up at every festival they could, set up all around town and worked no matter what the weather. Then this summer they opened Elk Horn Brewery on Franklin Boulevard using many of the recipes they tested out with Delacata. They put the food cart aside for the winter in order to focus on the restaurant.

          Although the Sheehans got their start in the food business with a cart, Stephen Sheehan said he thinks the local food cart market has just about maxed out.

          “I’ve seen three come and go that set up across the street from me,” he said, adding that he always notices carts or trucks listed for sale on online classified ads.

          “People see how well we’ve done and think it’s a get-rich quick scheme,” Sheehan said. “It’s definitely not a get-rich quick scheme.”

          He said he would advise newcomers who want to try break into the Eugene/Springfield area to have a well-defined and untapped niche — or go somewhere else first to get established.

          “If I were going to start, I’d move to Coos Bay or Corvallis,” he said. “Eugene is so saturated.”

          Kimberly Cullen, general manager of Eugene Saturday Market, which administers the food cart program in Kesey Square, also said demand may have finally leveled off there.

          “I’ve seen things plateauing in terms of the number of folks interested in participating in the program,” she said.

          Interest picked up about three years ago as the downtown renaissance took hold and food carts saw Kesey Square as one of the area’s more desirable locations, Cullen said.

          “They’ve helped with the revitalization,” she added.

          Serving Springfield

          The Neighborhood Economic Development Corp. would welcome any cart overflow from Eugene to downtown Springfield with open arms.

          The nonprofit launched a program earlier this fall that simplifies the process for food trucks that want to set up around A and Fifth streets. But, with wet winter weather and the usual seasonal slowdown for food carts, the effort is still trying to get traction. “Since Springfield is untested, they’ve been hesitant,” said Jim McHugh of NEDCO, who has led the effort.

          However, a few carts have been showing up on a regular basis.

          “We’re going to continue to push it,” McHugh said. “We’ve got to create a critical mass.”

          Outside PenFed on a recent lunch hour, about a half dozen people were waiting for their meals at the Lani Moku Grill, which opened in August.

          “They have the best teriyaki, bar none,” said Barbara Otonicar, who works in a nearby office and always comes by when Lani Moku is around.

          That teriyaki is what opened the door for Chelsy Navarro. She was asked to cook at an event held by a west Eugene auto parts store last June and the response was overwhelming. She sold out of her $6 teriyaki chicken plate, and numerous attendees asked where she would be serving her food next

          With help from family members, she opened Lani Moku in August. Business has been brisk ever since. She just signed on to be part of Beergarden, Eugene’s first food cart pod. It will also feature locally produced beers, wines, ciders and meads and is scheduled to open next spring on Sixth Avenue.

          “People here just dig it,” she said of the area’s food cart scene. She attributes at least some of her cart’s popularity to many of her customers’ fond memories of trips to Hawaii.

          She attributes the local industry’s sustained strength to a support network woven by the area’s other trucks as well as helpful restaurateurs she’s come across, Navarro said. She’s been impressed by the help she’s received when she sought advice from more established food cart owners about different locations and other matters, she said.

          “One of the coolest things — I’m 24 years old — and one of the things I didn’t expect was people who have done this for a while are giving me advice,” she said.

          Most importantly, she said, she believes the food carts’ growth simply comes down to what they offer to customers.

          “Food makes people happy,” she said.

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          Jan 15, 2015
          Jim Benson

          A Missing Food Cart

          Three bites into the Bibimbap from Num-Nums Food Cart, and I had already declared it one of the best food carts in town. Relatively new, Num-Nums opened two months ago, on Armistice Day, November 11—and adds an important, previously missing piece to the food scene in Bend: Korean food.

          As we pulled into the small lot off Century Drive, the smoky smells emanating from the cart were enticing. Unlike the more common Chinese food, which encompasses a wide swath of rice dishes, or Thai food, with its emphasis on noodles and fiery spices, or even Vietnamese, with its pho soups and French-inspired sandwiches, Korean dishes are a unique flavor palate, often a balance of smoky and sweet.

          Kimchi is probably the best-known Korean dish. Like cole slaw for Texas barbecue, the kimchi at Num-Nums was doled out in tiny scoops for most of the dishes we ordered, and was crunchy, zinging with spice; less vinegary than often served, it was bright and soothing.

          We ordered four dishes—and what most stood out was how they each were a tossed salad of spicy, sweet and pickled, yet held together by a sum-greater-than-its-parts: The side dishes and various ingredients had common and complimentary flavors that created a pleasant balance.

          The Bibimbap is a sort of greatest hits of Korean foods, and the container was so filled to the brim that it took support from both hands to make sure the box didn’t sag and flop. With a fried egg on top, the meal was a collection of sesame-encrusted cucumber, barbecued beef, and a wilted spinach tucked into the corner that popped with rice
          vinegar sweetness.

          On a teriyaki chicken dish, spicy bean sprouts lay alongside tart pickled carrots and cold teriyaki potatoes that were browned with a sesame-heavy marinade and dusted with black and white sesame seeds that made them taste
          almost candied.

          The short ribs were crispy and tender with a sweet and spicy, sticky barbecue sauce.

          “That needs to be in a restaurant,” declared our accounts manager Kayja Buhmann. With the array of novel dishes and flavors, it is easy to see how Num-Nums could easily jump from a startup food cart to a full-time restaurant.

          But not everything was eye-popping amazing. The vegetarian option was a Korean vegetable pancake filled with potatoes and zucchini, sliced into strips and laid atop a generous helping of white rice. The pancakes were savory and slightly spicy with a doughy, eggy texture—good, but not remarkable. Even so, the uniqueness of the dishes still makes Num-Nums stand out as a recent, and top, addition to the nascent food cart scene in Bend.

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          Jan 14, 2015
          Jim Benson

          Monk’s Deli

          Nobody ever thinks of Delaware when they say
          “cheesesteak.” Forgive them—they don’t know nothing. The Mid-Atlantic’s
          best-loved sandwich travels downstream on the Pepsi-sugared waters of
          the mighty Delaware River, down the valley from Philadelphia through
          Camden, N.J., where Walt Whitman died, and into Wilmington and Newark. A
          guy rolled up to Monk’s Deli food cart with the words “Newark,
          Delaware,” and sandwich slinger Andrew Heckcrote gave him a buck off,
          just for knowing what’s what. Because that’s where he’s from.

          The
          cheesesteak comes on appropriately rubbery Italian hoagie bread,
          complete with neon-orange Whiz ($8.50) if that’s who you are. Instead,
          get it with white American cheese ($8) that’s melted until you can
          hardly see it. The steak just looks like a pile of wet shredded beef and
          fried onions (wit’ is a default here) until you bite into goopy
          American richness, with more umami per square inch than MSG and ketchup
          combined. The presentation is strictly old-school minimalist, and the
          meat tastes like the grill itself, like something you should be getting
          from a bodega no bigger than the cart after six Yuenglings and a Bud
          Light. Which is to say, it’s heaven.

          Sure there’s a
          serviceable pressed and seared Cubano ($9) that’s basically a hammed-up
          grilled cheese with pickles and mustard. There’s also a nice version of
          that great South Philly special, a pork tenderloin ($8.50) loaded with
          earthy broccoli rabe greens (although he is currently subbing spinach).
          Still, each of these sandwiches has a rendition you might better get
          elsewhere in the neighborhood, at Hawthorne’s El Cubo de Cuba or Stark
          Street’s Italian Market, respectively. But at Monk’s, the cheesesteak
          stands alone. 


          EAT: Monk’s Deli, Southeast 43rd Avenue and Belmont Street, 302-545-0708. 11:30 am-8 pm Wednesday-Monday.

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          Jan 9, 2015
          Jim Benson

          New York styrofoam ban leaves city’s food carts at loose ends

          A New York ban on styrofoam food containers, announced today, raises the question: what will the halal carts do?

          New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, is set to announce a citywide ban on foam containers today, with the ban taking effect on 1 July. The move comes two years after the former mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed banning use of polystyrene cups and containers in the city.

          Styrofoam – or expanded polystyrene for wonks – is relatively inexpensive and popular among fast food establishments, particularly the city’s ubiquitous food carts. They owe their widespread use to their relative inexpensiveness and are great insulators for keeping contents warm.

          But styrofoam has other costs: the city collected over 28,000 tonnes of styrofoam waste in 2014.

          Before the legislation to ban styrofoam was passed, Dart Container Corporation, the largest manufacturer of styrofoam containers, offered to buy the waste and assist with the primary problem of recycling, perceiving the threat to their business.

          “New York City pays $86 a ton to landfill foam. We’re offering to pay $160 to recycle it,” the company’s chief executive told the New York Post. The corporation, worked with the recycling firm Plastic Recycling, Inc to set up recycling facilities for New York City.

          Starting 1 July, establishments are forbidden from using styrofoam cups, containers and other cutlery. But the city will not collect fines until January 2016. The law will allow nonprofits and businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue to obtain possible exemptions.

          The catch? They have to prove that the ban will cause them “undue financial hardship”.

          Shamim, who owns a halal cart at the intersection of East Houston Street and Broadway in the Soho area of Manhattan, says he uses up between 120 and 15o foam containers each day. The containers are sold in packs of 100 that cost $12.

          Shamim’s cart has done business in the same location for the last eight years, and he says he recently heard about the ban. Grimacing, he says that if he has to use more expensive boxes, he will be forced to charge more.

          However, if the containers are bad for the environment, he will accept the city’s move.

          “I will agree with them, but they have to give us the alternative,” he says.

          Not so tasty: New York department of sanitation trucks deliver mountains of trash from the city’s curbside recycling program to the Sims Municipal Recycling facility in Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
          Photograph: Richard Levine/Demotix/Corbis

          The legislation to ban the material was unanimously passed in the city council in December 2013. An amendment gave city officials, particularly the sanitation department, a year to determine an “environmentally effective, economically feasible and safe” way to recycle the waste.

          As the 1 January deadline passed, city officials concluded that polystyrene was not recyclable and that they had not found any established markets where it could be sold, according to a New York Times report.

          An estimated $97m was spent annually on 2.58bn units of single-use styrofoam products such as clamshell containers, cups and spoons.

          An independent analysis released by city-based environmental nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council with DSM Environmental Services, a municipal-waste consultancy, could not conclusively prove that recycling styrofoam in the city was financially viable.

          Environment advocates are, naturally, thrilled. Eric Goldstein, the environment director of the NRDC, welcomed the ban.

          “[It’s] One of the De Blasio administration’s first big environmental actions, and it’s a good one,” he says, calling the move economically justified.

          He says that the styrofoam containers could be replaced by containers made of aluminum, recycled paper or other compostable material. The financial assistance provisions of bans in other cities have almost never been used. “Whatever price difference there are between types of containers are trivial and the costs have been absorbed by consumers,” he says.

          But those who have long opposed the legislation are disappointed.

          The ban not only impacts smaller businesses in New York City, says Michael Durant. He is the New York state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, a lobbying organization that rallied against the ban, calling it “a direct threat to thousands of jobs in upstate New York”.

          The sanitation department’s decision to not take the recycling route was unreasonable, he says. “It was just posturing. We’re very disappointed.”

          But the establishments that are most affected by the ban are perplexed about finding suitable alternatives.

          Other vendors are more concerned. Alam, another food cart operator in the Soho area, says more expensive alternatives are unviable: after all, the food’s selling-point is its cheapness. He says he has no idea what containers he will use after the ban. “I don’t know,” he says, scooping steaming falafels into a white clamshell styrofoam box.

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