Fresh Vegetables and Fruits - Fruits and Vegetables

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

Vegetables, that is. positively on Wednesday , an urgent line formed at a cheery new produce cart that had materialize at the place of East Fordham Road and Decatur Avenue near Fordham University in the Bronx.“These strawberries look great, and they’re a bargain,” said Michelle Cruz, a 38-year-old graphic designer who lives nearby and found herself jostling other produce hounds under the cart’s jaunty green umbrellas.The cart’s debut was the centerpiece of the first public celebration of a new citywide effort to encourage street vendors to bring fresh vegetables and fruit to low-income neighborhoods that have been called “food deserts” because of the predominance of fast-food outlets offering high-fat, high-sugar fare and the dearth of healthful culinary fare.The city has approved 1,000 new mobile food carts for neighborhoods in the five boroughs that have long been isolated from traditional supermarkets, grocery stores and farmers’ markets offering fresh produce at reasonable prices.“There is an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among those who are poor,” said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services. So far, 200 Green Carts, as they are officially called, are now on the streets. “Already, people are telling us they’re glad we’re here,” said Michael Bracho, the 42-year-old proprietor of the Decatur Avenue cart, a downsized former Office Depot manager who describes his new occupation as “lucrative if you do it right.”Some of the vendors who hit the streets last year complained about low-traffic locations, and it will take a while to determine whether there is enough demand to keep all the vendors in business in neighborhoods where processed foods are dominant. And some local merchants could see the carts as competition. The carts do not accept food stamps, though a government-financed pilot program will soon provide $1,000 all-weather wireless terminals so 15 vendors can accept food-stamp debit cards.The cart permits restrict operators to designated impoverished neighborhoods in the five boroughs and limit sales to raw fruits and vegetables.


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