High beef prices good news for creative NB food-truck vendors

Moncton — If you’re planning to put a burger on the grill this weekend, it’s going to cost you a little more. In fact, an alarming trend has seen the price of a pound of beef rise by nearly 50 percent in the last 18 months, according to Statistics Canada. But while this news might rain on the parade of burger and steak fans, owners — and patrons — of New Brunswick food trucks are ecstatic.

Food trucks, essentially low-brow restaurants on wheels, offer diners a wide variety of curbside delicacies presented in attractive, colourful manners, with ambiguous ingredient lists. And, as Leon King, owner/operator of “Leon King’s Street Safari” told The Manatee, the devil is in the details when it comes to street food.

“We have mainly beef burritos — a big seller. If there is no beef, no problem! We remove beef from the ingredients and replace it with the words ‘meat’ or ‘meaty filling.’ By law, we can substitute any meat for beef as long as it carries the ‘AAA’ grade. That fish taco you’re eating? It’s actually mutton with a turnip salsa.”

A little culinary sleight-of-hand is one thing, but do food truck patrons notice the difference? Do people ask “Where’s the beef?” We spoke with customers at the “Mei’s Big Weenie” food van, found parked outside a Mountain Road mortuary.

When each client was asked whether they could tell what the meat in their all-beef hotdog actually was, we received mixed results. Some patrons believed it was beef, one said it was definitely old shoes, 2 were vegans who were polled by mistake, and finally, one patron compared it favourably to a Laotian duck confit she once had while hiking through Australia.

Overall, however, the big meat mixup of 2015 has been all simmer and no steak. Or mutton, or even goat. New Brunswickers like their meat, regardless of the source or taste, and that is a trend that won’t be changing any time soon.

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