Local food trucks do more than serve quick and tasty food. They help connect the community.
The Comox Valley has long been home to an impressive array of local restaurants that have made highly valuable contributions to our community. Places like Atlas and Locals, to name just two, support our farmers and small-scale suppliers by sourcing ingredients locally wherever possible. They have trained young cooks who have gone on to open restaurants of their own. They’ve worked tirelessly to elevate and promote our local dining scene, giving us a place to gather and celebrate (in pre-pandemic times—and in happier times to come).
Food trucks are relative newcomers to our culinary scene, and with more and more popping up over the last couple of years, it’s worth looking at the role they play in our community. A quick and convenient outdoor meal on a lunch break or weekend can seem fairly inconsequential, but the value of that experience is worth more than pure sustenance.
Once we consider the many reasons we choose to dine out, we must apply that same logic to the experience of enjoying a meal from a food truck. I’m pleased to report that more than a few Valley-based food trucks are embracing their environment and giving back.
On Fridays and weekends, Black Creek-based Jackknife Pizza makes the journey to the base of the Sunrise chair at Mount Washington. Luckily for those who indulge in Jackknife’s irresistible pizza, the owner, Jim, comes from a farming background and understands the importance of hot, comforting food after a day out in the elements.
Phat Parrot is community building in their new location at the Courtenay Garage, which is aiming to develop its bit of waterfront property into a food-truck hub, breathing some more life into the neighbourhood. Starting in December 2020, Phat Parrot partnered with Churro Chica to provide free meals to the community’s homeless every Sunday; they will be continuing this generous initiative throughout 2021.
I’ve worked with LUSH Valley for nearly four years, coordinating the Fruit Tree Program before moving into my current role as Local Food Access Manager. It’s a dream job, in that I’m tasked with facilitating the connection between local producers and consumers. A peddler of deliciousness.
The idea of eating locally is one that is dear to my heart, and it’s a joy I love to share. I’ve always viewed my role through a hedonistic lens: eating a juicy plum straight from the tree is a pleasure we all deserve to experience more of. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world that boasts fertile soils and a favourable growing climate, and it is up to us to decide how much we wish to capitalize on this bounty. It takes a community-sized effort to make this local food system a part of our everyday dining experiences.
Just over a year ago, I decided that investing in a food truck of my own would be a useful tool to facilitate the local food connection. I’ve called it The Farmer’s Kitchen because I hope that the local farmers will see their efforts and motivations reflected in the menu and sourcing policies. It’s a journey I’ve only just begun in earnest, but I hope to create a nimble and responsive kitchen that can adapt to the variations and fluctuations of a small-scale local food system. The goal with The Farmer’s Kitchen, and my work with LUSH, is to work closely with local producers to find ways to introduce these connections to a wider audience with the hopes of fostering a robust food community with cuisine as unique as the people who grow, cook, and live here.
As the Valley’s dining scene continues to evolve and grow, remember to support the establishments—including the ones on wheels—that are committed to serving the community along with serving great food. The onus is on all of us to ensure that the dining choices we make reflect our values and vision for the place where we choose to live.