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Wellesley Filmmaker Examines 'Apple Pushing' in NYC

Mary Mazzio presents her film “The Apple Pushers” at a film festival in Boston this weekend.

In New York City there is no shortage of street food. There’s everything from kabobs to hot dogs, sausages and chicken. Mostly, it’s delicious, but is any of it healthy?

This is the question asked in Wellesley filmmaker Mary Mazzio’s documentary “The Apple Pushers,” which takes an active approach to the issue. Her film follows five street cart vendors taking part of New York City’s Green Cart Initiative, which offers fresh fruits and vegetables in New York’s low-income populations. These city areas – known as “food deserts” – have the least amount of access to healthy food.

“They have all kinds of food but nothing healthy,” Mazzio said in a phone interview.

She said a high-ranking health commissioner in New York calls them “food swamps” due to the massive amounts of fast-food places in those neighborhoods.

Mazzio, who is the CEO and founder of 50 Eggs Films based at , said healthy eating even became problematic for her crew during filming.

“We were roaming around these neighborhoods looking for something where the crew is not going to feel sick an hour later,” she said. “It’s just mind boggling how little access there is.”

There have been numerous articles written on the initiative and whether it’s working, or whether there is even a link between obesity and food deserts at all, but “The Apple Pushers” examines first-hand these gastronomic wastelands and a possible link to obesity and diabetes.

The film also tells the tale of street vendor culture in New York, which has roots as far back as the city’s beginnings.

“We really tell the story through the lens of these street vendors,” she said. “They’re all first-generation Americans, and it’s about how they got here and why they got here.”

The film has a bit of star power as well: Edward Norton lends his talents as the narrator.

The screening is at Regal Fenway Stadium 13, 201 Brookline Ave., Boston, April 22 at 6 p.m as part of the Do Something Reel Film Festival. Tickets are $10. Proceeds benefit The Food Project.

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