Making ‘The Apple Pushers,’ a Film About New York’s Street Vendors

Laurie told me about an initiative she was helping to fund in a public-private partnership with the city of New York called the Green Carts Program, in which hundreds of street vendors (“micro-entrepreneurs,” as economists like to call them) were rolling carts of fruits and vegetables into poor neighborhoods, where finding a ripe apple was almost impossible and where obesity rates were skyrocketing. Green Cart vendors were a newly legislated class of street vendor, permitted to sell only fresh fruits and vegetables and only in certain areas. She paused. “What do you know about food deserts?”

“Um,” I replied, instantly monosyllabic. She then laid out her wild idea — a documentary film that would highlight the issue of food deserts, but also chronicle the lives and livelihoods of these street vendors. Laurie’s vision was that such a film might help other cities think creatively about out-of-the-box ways to solve the obesity and food desert crisis.