This is a really good read from the The New York Times:
"Food Vendors: A Thai Tradition with a Twist of Innovation" by Brian Mertens
I love street food in Thailand and miss having ready cooked snacks or filling meals available 24 hours a day. You can hop on your car even at midnight or 5am to get something to eat. In my opinion, the variety and choices of food we get on Bangkok streets beats any offered by other street vendors around the world. Come to think of it, Thailand street food vendors seems to be a much more sustainable and equitable business model than 7-11s. The city authority can do a lot to give them support, such as has been done by checking on their health standards. Maybe more can be done for finding them good sanitary locations.
In the story linked to above, Brian writes about some Thai designers have shown/researched about traditional packaging, such as banana leaves. This is a good trend for the development of biodegradable food containers, something Thailand is pretty much up front. What made my eyes pop in the said article was the quoted annual sales of these vendors amounting to a whopping $1.6 billion. That's not peanuts at all. The writer also reports that a successful food vendor can earn substantially more than an upper middle class income.
It's really cool that an old tradition can be remade to be sexy and hip (with a foreignor's new eyes and his creative writing based on equally creative researching by young forward thinking Thais who have not overlooked humble traditions).