Imagine this: a vehicle that runs on the vegetable oil that’s left over from the fryer. That’s exactly what Anna Peterson’s food truck, A La Plancha, does — allowing her to lessen her carbon footprint on this planet.
The chef is as passionate about her food as she is about the environment. Peterson grew up in Duluth, and over her lifespan has seen a dramatic change in the climate. She shares, “All of the birch trees are gone now, and those are the trees I grew up with.” Another example of the change in weather is Long Lost Lake. A stream feeds the lake, and it doesn’t have an out. All of the stream water comes in, and in the last 11 years, the water level has risen 22 feet — actually flooding out all of the houses that are there.” She continues, “It’s incredible to see, but it’s everywhere. All you have to do is look around; there are signs everywhere. We all have to partake in doing our part to be more environmentally conscious. It makes me incredibly sad that people don’t recognize global warming. Where do you live? Where do you travel? How do you not see? It’s right in front of our eyes. You blink, and something’s different. We no longer have tree frogs: there’s no bees. There’s so many things that are trying to grab our attention.”
Rather than hide her head in the sand, seeing situations like Long Lost Lake pushed Anna into action. To do her part at home, she and her husband have converted 98% of appliances and plumbing in their apartment building to higher efficiency models. She reasons, “They may cost a lot up front, but you can save that money from the start.”
Anna’s dedication is contagious, especially when she starts talking about her ideals. On the truck, Peterson integrates the use of biodegradable, recyclable utensils and packaging and also talks to her patrons about becoming greener. “I chat up the truck all of the time about biodiesel. I let the customers know that the containers we use are biodegradable and recyclable, and we can take of it all on the truck. I say it very light-heartedly — to inform rather than preach.” The truck itself runs on a mix of recycled vegetable oil and diesel — 10% of diesel to 90% oil in the summer, and a little more in the winter, because the oil will congeal at colder temperatures.
A La Plancha may be about saving the earth, but it’s also about delicious food. It all took off when Anna did some traveling and become captivated by the light, delicious flavors. She says, “I grew up in Minnesota, so I wasn’t used to those flavors. It was so exciting to discover this food, and it’s fairly easy to make — as far as food-making goes. I’m not a huge casserole fan, so I love fresh food and the flavors and colors. I love everything about it.”
It’s evident that Peterson has found her passion in food and being able to incorporate a greener ideal into the mix is the icing on the cake.