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Organic Carts NYC

By guest blogger Alberto Gonzalez, founder and CEO of GustOrganics, the world’s first certified-organic restaurant using 100% organic ingredients, and one of the greenest and most progressive restaurants on the planet, www.gustorganics.com.

Organic Carts NYC is a project that I had in mind for quite a while.

New York City is a vibrant place, where street food is an important component of the typical New Yorker’s life. Millions of people eat street foods every single day here. For years, street food has been recognized as cheap food. It has usually been an alternative for those who wish to “eat on the run” for a few dollars, without concerning themselves too much with the quality of the food.

But in recent times, a myriad of information linking food and health has been made available everywhere, and as a result of this new knowledge, many people have started moving away from purchasing street food. This behavior is mainly due to the newfound perception of low quality and dubious food-safety standards in food carts. (I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but I’m referring to the average street food that you can find in New York.)

For me, organics is a way of life. Eating organic food is an assurance that the farming practices involved in the food system are not subject to corporate greed. Certainly, not to the point we’ve reached with factory-farmed foods.

Unfortunately, most of our food has wound up in the hands of many unscrupulous organizations that, in their neglected search for profits, have destroyed our collective health to a degree that is beyond absurd.

I tend to believe that food is intimate and an important part of human development, and therefore, cannot be left in the hands of mere profit makers. But we consumers also bear some responsibility for the current state of affairs. The truth of the matter is most of us did not pay much attention to the food we ate. And the result of that is evident in the many challenges to our collective health—as reported in the news practically every day.

I started GustOrganics with the vision of bringing organic food and sustainable practices to the mainstream. Organic Carts NYC is a natural extension of that idea, and therefore provide an avenue to help further my vision. We launched the prototype project about six weeks ago.

Organic Carts NYC is a combination of certified-organic food, ecofriendly packaging, and renewable resources, with the goal of being available only a few blocks away for most New Yorkers.

We serve only homemade drinks and pure NYC water in bio-compostable cups. We are completely opposed to plastic bottled drinks.

It took us more than a year to be able to get the first cart on the streets. Innovation is never easy. On top of that, New York is perhaps one of the most regulated cities in the world, so the combination of innovation struggle and New York rules made it quite tough.

The Organic Carts NYC project is being funded by our customers’ support because we reinvest every single dollar into the business to keep moving forward to our vision of organics available everywhere.

People can now enjoy a certified-organic full lunch, made with renewable energy and served in environmentally sound packaging, for under $10—tax included.

We expect the carts to be profitable, but we are not doing this simply for the money. Although we strive to be financially sustainable, our main goals are related to nutrition, social concerns, and environmental benefits.

The plan is to launch at least two or three more carts before the spring of 2011, and we are planning to start converting more carts during 2011. We aim to add 50 more carts over the next five years.

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11 Responses to Organic Carts NYC

  1. maria (farm country kitchen) November 9, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Dear Alberto,

    Thanks for being a guest blogger! I’ve eaten at GustoOrganics many a time since it’s right around the corner from where my daughter lives in NYC. So THANK YOU for providing delicious, clean and affordable organic food to all of us when we are in the city.

    Maria

  2. Vanessa November 9, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    What a brilliant guy/vision – send him over the pond!!

  3. Alberto November 9, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Dear Maria, it was an honor for me to be your guest blogger!

    I’m glad you have enjoyed our organic food at GustOrganics. We do everything with lots of love.

    Thanks for your great work as an advocate for organics! We truly aprpeciate it because in our opinion, organics are the answer to most of the problems in America’s food system and our collective health.

    We love your book Organic Manifesto! It is always handy on top of my desk.

    All the best

    Alberto

  4. Sarah Stack November 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    I loved hearing about Alberto’s Organic Carts NYC Project! I am especially keen on businesses that make good sense for people by positively impacting a crucial part of their daily life (what they eat), as well as ensuring their long-term health. I look forward to visiting your restaurant and seeing your carts next time I’m in New York!

    Excellent choice for a guest blogger, Maria!

  5. Sillama November 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    Thank you for this informative and inspiring article! Street food is a popular part of Korean life. There are organic farms in South Korea. I will see what I can do to connect the two.

  6. Barb Donahue November 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Alberto,
    Bravo to you on this fabulous project. I have gardened organically all my life, and now that I am in the city (or should I say small village of Milford, Michigan) more people have commented on my gardens this year and do question why I do organic. Awareness is half the battle; then you bring them in with the taste! Hope to get a chance to visit N.Y. soon ~ Congratulations!

  7. Women UGG November 10, 2010 at 3:25 am #

    thank you for taking time to share this with us.It is a good post.Women UGG

  8. Alberto November 11, 2010 at 1:16 am #

    Hello Vanessa, Sarah, Sillama and Women UGG, thanks very much for your nice and encouraging words!

    In my opinion Organic food is not only the perfect path to healthier communities but also the greenest way to a better future.

    Since organic companies are in general small and have no budget to advertise, etc, we should all continue spreading the organic love until we see significant improvements in our food system.

    I would like to share a great quote from Margaret Mead:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Alberto

  9. Leah December 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Great post! I have 2 friends interested in starting food carts. However, until the legislation changes (we’re in MA) it’s going to be impossible to do so here. I can’t wait to we get wonderful, amazing, natural, organic, and inexpensive food choices in Boston. It will be a great introduction to some very talented chefs!

  10. james December 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Serving Organic food isn’t enough, you have to know how to cook all that!
    I went to this place a month ago and didn’t like it!
    I can tell that’s Organic but it wasn’t good! Sorry!
    Guys, try SiggysGoodFood.com
    It’s the tastiest food in the planet and everything’s Organic.
    It’s in Brooklyn (76 Henry street, take the 2-3 trains to Clarks St or A-C to High St).
    Bon appetit!

  11. Alberto December 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi James, I completely agree with you that food must be organic and also taste good!

    Sorry that you did not have a good experience with us.

    In general the feedback we get is great and as we strive to be the best, unfortunately we do on occasion experience poor lapses that I sincerely apologize for.

    I will make sure to check your recommendation.
    Best!

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