Street food can be found in every country around the world. These foods are inexpensive, provide nutrition for a large majority of people, and are available in both urban and rural areas. Street food is the foundation of any strong culinary heritage. For me, a big part of the memories of a country are usually mouthwatering flashbacks of dishes I ate on the street. In 2007, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 2.5 billion people eat street food daily.
Considered part of the informal sector, the importance of the street food industry is often ignored since vendors operate without a license and do not report income. However, street food operations have considerable potential for generating income and employment. This industry often engages entire families and provides income potential for those involved in the buying of materials, all the way to the cooking and selling of food. What’s more, the street food industry gives women the opportunity to earn income in countries where they often have trouble finding employment.
When you buy a tamale from a street vendor in Guatemala, you are not only buying a delicious lunch, but you are giving money to support the women vendors and their families. You are also helping the family of the farmer she bought the ingredients from and all the others who are involved in the production activities of transforming the raw ingredients into edible foods.
Small businesses are an integral part of a developing country’s economic sustainability. Choose wisely, and do not be dissuaded from indulging in street food. Selling street food changes lives. Support those who need it most.