Tiffin Project

“The Apple Pushers” – A Farm to Cart Event

by Hunter Moyes on November 14, 2012

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Late last week I had the pleasure of seeing a documentary at The Ridge Theater up on Arbutus, care of a team of organizations who make up part of the usual suspects in Vancouver’s food security scene. Farm Folk City Folk, whose history and members make up a few of the pillars of this scene – combining with The World In A Garden, came together for the second in a series of events that you should be more aware of. Vancity – just in case you didn’t already wonder or guess – also plays a supporting role behind the scenes, in order to make these events happen. Each of these events has been, and will be, themed – the theme of last week’s: apples.

A documentary was screened called “The Apple Pushers” – a film about New York’s Green Cart initiative to bring affordable local fruits and vegetables to the city’s poorer neighbourhoods – which have been characteristically dominated by fast food and other less-than sustaining ghetto dietary crutches.

On the surface, the film touched on the lives of a handful of immigrants with challengingly colourful pasts, and how they’ve had to “turn the other cheek” in order to become members of a positive food movement in New York. In depth, the film pointed to the troublesome state of North America’s food system, as well how income inequality affects diets. Of course it touched on obesity, which is being considered an epidemic now in the United States of America – without even touching more than momentarily on the social costs of improper nutrition or the current healthcare debacle that Canada’s Southern neighbour is engaged in. I’d watch it again.

Without over-reliance on statistics, telling the story of New York’s “Green Cart Initiative” via stories from its trench-level workers – The Apple Pushers succeeds in painting a picture of America’s “food deserts”. A food desert, as the documentary explains, is a place in a developed society where very few options for sustenance are available.

The examples that the film gives exist in New York City. Apparently -23,500,000 people in America live outside of a mile of a supermarket where they can get fruits and vegetables. “Food deserts” exist, in large numbers. But, where these deserts exist, opportunity also exists – as The Apple Pushers points out.

The “Green Cart Initiative” in New York City endeavours to change the landscape of the city’s food deserts by permitting “micro-entrepreneurs” (as the film calls them) to sell fresh fruits and vegetables in areas that otherwise would only be able to offer unhealthy antipodes. I’d welcome the focal characters of The Apple Pushers in my neighbourhood any time, and I’d recommend the film.

I’d also recommend following the path that Farm Folk City Folk has committed to continuing in the local food community. These events are worth the price of admission. The World In A Garden is also something you should poke your head into – an urban farm initiative that’s paying dividends to those investing in it. These events are just starting to earn steam too! Happy Planet was there serving cups of its new soups. Earnest Ice Cream was giving up ample samples on top of that, and a couple fine food carts pumped short orders into The Ridge Theater just to make sure that no one starved. The whole thing was well-organized and fun. Obviously – read my Bio – I’m a sucker for this sort of thing, but I think that anyone could have a good time at these events. I’ll be looking forward to “Farm To Cart” events from now on.

All that said – I must say that my heart goes out to those in New York right now. I wish them good luck in the years ahead, swift aid unto them in their time of need, and only the best for the future.

~ HM

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