Make half your plate fruits and vegetables!

“Make half your plate fruits and vegetables!” So says the US Department of Health and the US Department of Agriculture. And what could be easier than stopping by your local Green Cart vendor and picking up a snack on your way to and from work? These places are convenient, fast, and inexpensive ways to add super-fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. On my way walking to the Kingston-Throop C train stop on Fulton Street, I always pass by the Green Cart on the corner without so much as a nod of the head. But today, the weather was nice and I was not in a rush, so I decided to say hello. 


Mohammad Shahjahn has been selling scrumptious and healthy treats on the corner of Throop and Fulton for three years now, after the vendor company he worked for in Queens had a series of layoffs in 2008. Around the same time, Mayor Bloomberg initiated the NYC Green Cart program and Mohammad was quick to sign up for one of the 1,000 available permits. Originally from Bangladesh, Mohammad has been working here in the US for about 11 years and is happy to have relocated his cart to Bed-Stuy: “I am here 9am to 8pm, six days a week” he says (that is an 11 hour day, if you are counting). On a busy day, he makes about $300-$400, but as of right now, that barely covers his expenses. Since vendors are required to be on side-streets, his customer base is mainly residents walking to the subway stop for a few minor groceries or snacks. Mohammad says his business’s success is intrinsically tied to the success of Fulton Street – a bigger, stronger commercial corridor will “provide an anchor of shopping and more customers from outside the neighborhood,” something he said is desperately needed to keep businesses thriving in the area.

The NYC Green Carts program provides financial assistance and technical training to vendors interested in setting up raw and unprocessed vegetable and fruit carts. To receive this assistance, Green Cart vendors are required to set up in neighborhoods that tend to have lower access to fresh foods and have higher than average rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other food-related illnesses (see map below):

Mohammed gets fresh vegetables and fruit delivered every morning, and at cut-rate prices, you can be assured that you are getting a great (and healthy) deal; the day I swung by, he was selling mangoes at 3 / $5, cherries for $3/lb., and pears at 2 / $1. He also regularly carries okra, grapes, bananas, tangerines, apples, tomatoes, and onions, as well. You can friend the NYC Green Cart program on Facebook, or find a Green Cart near you anywhere in the city using this nifty mapping website call Locarto here (although it could use a little bit of updating).

If you are interested in reading more about food access in central Brooklyn, check out this report from 2008.

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Categories: Bed Stuy, Fresh Food, Fulton Street, Green Market, Natural Products

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