Implications for Research, Planning, and Policy
The ultimate goals of the Street Food Project were from the beginning focused on both the micro and macro levels. At the city level, our objective was to utilize the findings of the studies to identify interventions that would improve the economics of the trade and the safety of the food the vendors sold. These interventions were to recognize and support the critical role women, as well as men, play in each city's trade. At the international level, our objective was to influence the organizations and debates that shape food policies. Chapter 9 illustrates how these twin goals played out in the food arena. At the local level, training programs in food handling replaced sporadic enforcement of unrealistic health standards in many cities. At the macro policy level, the EPOC studies helped reorient public health experts, particularly at the Food and Agricultural Organization, away from the support of stringent laws restricting the sale of food on the streets, toward a recognition of the value of the trade.
This chapter focuses on the institutions and policies that shape the business climate of street food vending. At the conclusion of each study, participants in final briefing seminars proposed a range of interventions to help vendors as microentrepreneurs. These included measures specific to the street food trade, such as ideas for improved vending carts, or for providing better-serviced locations, or for setting up mini food centers. Most other suggestions for local initiatives reflected the development community's contemporary approach to helping microenterprise more generally: creating organizations of vendors in order to better provide services, particularly credit, as well as to facilitate communication between vendors, their middle-class advocates, and government.
At the time of the street food studies, two broad debates were shaping both research and aid policies for microenterprise. Both originated from the fact that neither neoclassical nor Marxist economic theory could satisfactorily explain why apparently premodern artisanal and trade activities were not disappearing with the advent of urbanization and industrialization, but in fact appeared to be proliferating. Within the development community, debate revolved around the definition of economic