It was underwritten by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, which in 2008 provided $1.5 million to get the Green Cart program started.
New York authorized permits to put 1,000 more vending carts on the streets, stipulating that these carts had to sell produce. The idea was to make fruits and vegetables more available in food desert areas of N.Y.C.
Green Carts started rolling in 2009.
The documentary is really two stories rolled into one film. Both are worthy stories, and I wonder if they would be better served by being the focus of separate documentaries.
One storyline was the creation of the Green Cart program.
There were plenty of pictures of guts and butts that seem to have put “big” in Big Apple. That got tiresome long before the montage was done.
Then there was a series of talking heads. For as contentious as the process seemed to have been, it seems there could have been something more fiery to show.
Some good issues were laid out, such as established storefronts not wanting competition from food carts. I just thought it was too polite.
Five immigrants who took up the Green Cart challenge made up the second storyline.
Each had an interesting story that could have been expanded.
However, it was footage shot at Hunts Point Terminal Market that woke me out of my documentary torpor.
The hustle and bustle was a welcome change of pace.
I saw an A&J Produce Corp. sign and Hunts Point Tropicals.
Baldor Specialty Produce, not at Hunts Point, was also prominently featured.
One of the wholesalers said his Green Cart customer was valuable to his company.
“Shall I tell you why? He comes every day. He can buy, and he can sell quick. He’s important to us,” he said.
One thing of note came from “Produce Pete” Napolitano, former street cart peddler and owner of Napolitano’s Produce, Bergenfield, N.J., in addition to a regional TV personality.
He said in the short term, the carts were a form of competition for storefronts.
“In the longer term, (Green Cart operators) are educating your customer. With supermarkets, they are always understaffed, as opposed to a one-on-one situation where the guy with a Green Cart — he wants you to buy something,” Napolitano said.
It would be nice to have more Green Cart-operator salesmanship in produce retailing.
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