The American Dream (03:26)
The Apple Pushers is about five immigrants--Jake, Sarahi, Shaheen, Gloria, and Bardo--who are trying to make their way in the United States. It is also the story of food deserts in low-income communities, where it can be a struggle to find fresh, healthy food. New York City increased food vendor permits for those selling only fresh food.
Jake, from Russia (02:01)
Jake's parents were engineers in Russia, but as Jews, they faced persecution. They came to the United States seeking a better life for their children.
Bardo, from Mexico (00:47)
Bardo walked through the desert from Mexico to the United States as a teenager.
Gloria, from Ecuador (01:12)
Gloria came from Ecuador, seeking work to support her two young children.
Shaheen, from Bangladesh (00:56)
Shaheen's father sent him to the United States to earn money to support his brothers and sisters.
Hassan, from Pakistan (00:40)
Hassan immigrated from Pakistan to find work and to get an education for his children.
Ezzine, from Morocco (00:28)
Ezzine emigrated from Morocco because the United States is the land of opportunity.
Sarahi, from Mexico (02:27)
Sarahi emigrated from Mexico as a teenager with her father's encouragement. The trip was dangerous, and the coyotes attacked her and the other immigrants.
The Land of Milk and Honey (03:56)
Immigrants discuss their expectations about America: nice houses, big cars, money in the streets, fast food, and more. But fast food is a nightmare for many low-income Americans, who have limited access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Food Deserts in New York City (02:27)
New York City developed food deserts as white, middle-class residents fled the city in the early to mid-1970s. Fearing crime and seeing demographic change, grocers followed. Immigrants also face disillusionment and struggle as they come to the United States.
Jake's Parents (02:15)
Jake's parents cannot find work due to the language barrier. After Jake was bullied, his father wants to confront the kid responsible. But he can't speak English, so he threatens the bully's father with an axe.
Harsh Realities (03:44)
Sarahi, Jake, Bardo, and Gloria talk about their struggles to find their path in the United States, working long hours at difficult jobs, serving in the army, and sending money home.
Opportunity in Adversity (03:39)
The advent of big box retailers squeezed smaller stores out of existence. But the big boxes found it easier to build and function in the suburbs, where there were few zoning laws and much open space. The Green Cart initiative saw food carts that sold only fresh fruits and vegetables as a way to quickly and inexpensively counter the food deserts.
American Identity (01:18)
For Jake, serving in the Army solved his identity crisis. He felt 100% American.
Green Cart Proposal (04:58)
Proponents of the green cart initiative thought it would be a simple, easy-to-win proposition. But it was extremely controversial. Opponents said poor people were too ignorant to want fresh produce, then said the carts would take away their business.
Getting a Permit (02:16)
Once the controversial initiative passes, thousands turn out to apply for the permits. It can take several tries to get approved.
Challenges: Location, Competition (04:41)
Street vendors face several challenges: finding a location with tolerant neighbors, competing against established businesses, loading and moving product every day, and working outside in all weather.
Challenge: Animosity (03:23)
Animosity against street vendors has been long-standing, with anti-immigrant sentiment making vendors a target since the early 20th century.
Challenge: Rules (02:59)
New York City laws regulating street vendors are confusing and can impose harsh fines. Opponents says that in such hard economic times, the city should not be targeting people who are just trying to make a living.
Challenge: Product (02:27)
Many of the street vendors select and purchase the produce for their carts at Hunts Point Terminal wholesaler.
Others buy through smaller distributors, like Baldor Specialty Foods. Jeffrey Aldana, of Baldor, knows what it is like to be an immigrant. His father emigrated from Guatemala after being kidnapped by guerillas, moving first to Mexico, then the United States.
Hard Work (03:11)
Gradually the vendors begin to learn what works for them. Shaheen institutes uniforms and deodorant for his crew. Gloria builds relationships. Bardo has specialty vegetables.
If You Build it, They Will Come (03:32)
Green cart customers talk about what they like about the carts. In addition to offering fresh produce, the vendors create community, bring jobs and money into an area, support public safety ... one even spotted a terrorist preparing to set a bomb in Time Square.
New York City Tradition (04:46)
The green cart vendors all hope to build a better life for themselves and their children, just like generations of immigrants in New York City.
Credits: The Apple Pushers (03:58)
Credits: The Apple Pushers
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