Every true New Yorker knows that more than the yellow taxicabs, the skyscrapers, or the Yankees (yeah, we said it), the umbrella-d food carts peppering the sidewalks and parks are as New York as you can get.
Is there anything more wonderful than the aroma of roasted peanuts wafting your way from down the block, or more nauseating than the lingering stench of hot dog water when it's dumped out for the night?
Ah, New York.
If you fall into the latter group of people who could maybe do without walking through a cloud of grease on the way to the office (blasphemer!), you might be unsurprised to hear that street meat doesn't only do damage to your nostrils, but also to the environment.
As reported by Gothamist, the charcoal grills that cook the delicious (albeit questionable) meats cause an alarming level of pollution.
For reference, one cart charcoal grilling meat for one day sends as much particulate matter into the air as a diesel truck that drives 3,500 miles, which is about the distance from NY to Denver, roundtrip.
You might remember that the city is considering nearly doubling the number of street vendor permits, a whole other complicated issue in itself, but where it stands, this would definitely raise the number of charcoal grills fired up.
Not to mention, as pointed out by senior attorney at the Street Vendor Project, Matthew Shapiro, the lung health of people working those grills are much more severely impacted than those of us who quickly walk by a couple times a day.
They are "eager to work" with the Department of Health to find cleaner solutions; apparently, many vendors already use alternative heat methods like propane, but certain purists would rather use charcoal.
So next time you step out to the cart on the corner for lunch, remember that your carbon footprint might be higher than refilling your eco-friendly water bottle can help.