“I’m saving a ton of money on energy. There is just no comparison,” said a beaming Al Peacock as we chatted beside his new MRV100 food cart on 81st Street and Central Park West in New York City. Peacock, an Air Force veteran, is the first (and for now, only) person operating the new sustainable food cart designed and developed by NYC-based MOVE Systems as part of the company’s pilot program to provide 500 free mobile food carts to vendors across the city. As someone who operated traditional food carts in the past, Peacock estimated that around $15 a day would be required to purchase propane tanks for a traditional cart, but with his new MRV100 he only spends $10 every ten days.
It’s a far cry from his days hawking merchandise on 125th Street in Harlem, New York. With the goods he sold there – primarily belts – he was only able to make two or three times the money he invested. But in the food industry, he said, you can actually take $1 and make $10. That is what motivated Peacock to get into the food industry after 17 years of selling merchandise, although it took him about a year to get the courage to make the transition to the food industry.
This past year, Peacock caught wind of MOVE Systems’ plan to provide 100 carts to disabled veterans in NYC at no cost to the entrepreneur. “Quite honestly, I didn’t believe it, but I said let me investigate and see what’s going on.” Peacock then attended a meeting on 111th Street in NYC where he heard about how the carts were equipped with solar panels, hybrid natural gas (CNG) generators, and rechargeable batteries. Now fully aware of the environmental and health impacts of the cart, Peacock said, “I’m happy to be a part of it. I have kids and we can preserve this planet. It’s the only one we have.”
Energy Vision conducted a study detailing the environmental and health impacts of the MRV100 by comparing the new cart’s efficient hybrid natural gas/solar electric systems with existing carts that rely on gasoline and diesel generators (and propane tanks). The report concluded that the replacement of each conventional gasoline/diesel/propane cart with an MRV100 would virtually eliminate carbon monoxide (CO), nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions. The study also found that new carts would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 60%. Responding to the facts of the study, Peacock exclaimed, “It’s like Pope Francis said, you gotta protect the Earth!”
Peacock’s cart is located in a high-traffic area that saw us frequently having to shift as a result of large masses of people weaving through one another. As passersby reviewed his list of menu items, a thoughtful looking Peacock pridefully noted, “I practically own this food cart so I have full control over it. It’s like I’m a small business owner or entrepreneur.”
He continued, “I worked other food carts where I didn’t have full control but I partnered up with someone else. They ran the business and I learned from them, and mainly I learned what not to do as opposed to what to do.”
The MRV100 is equipped with a host of modern amenities, including a rooftop solar panel and a point-of-sale computer system to enable vendors to accept credit cards and better track sales and inventory, but the cart’s refrigerator is what impresses Peacock most. “You can actually keep your food fresh. My hot dogs are fresh until I cook them. My frozen food is frozen until you unthaw it and you’re ready to cook it.” As the scent of chicken over rice, Philly cheesesteaks and cheeseburgers lingered in the air, Peacock explained, “I like to make sure the food is fresh. I’m also the taste tester and I complain a lot. We’re not doing anything different, we’re just doing it better.”
But what’s the best thing about the cart? Well, as far as Peacock is concerned, it is the stainless steel finishes. “It looks so clean and the customer confidence (as a result) is great.”
He went on, “Clean air, clean energy, that’s also a major positive. It’s not smelly and just the whole ambience. It has a certain…je ne sais quoi. It’s a real pretty lady.”
On the question of how it feels to be the first in the City to operate the new MRV100 cart, Peacock conceded, “It does feel good. I am the crash test dummy. It’s actually great and I’m happy for the opportunity to work with MOVE Systems.”
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