Q&A: Avis Richards, Producer, LunchNYC

Avis_GreenRealEstateDailyOn October 3, the 12-part LunchNYC series launched on the NYC Life channel-giving New Yorkers a good look at the way they “do lunch,” whether it involves fast food on-the-go or sustainable, organic, and healthy food produced locally or regionally. MetroGreenBusiness.com caught up with LunchNYC producer Avis Richards for a behind-the-scenes look.

Q: How did this series come into being?

A: We had our documentary “Lunch,” which focused solely on school lunches in Baltimore. The idea was brought to NYC Media and, in expanding it to a series, we really wanted to focus on all the positive things happening in New York when it comes to food and healthy initiatives in general. New York is really the forbearer for changes in food culture in a lot of ways-with many other cities looking to us-so it made sense to try and cover the entire spectrum of all the good work going on in New York.

avis-richardsQ: What is the predominant audience you’re trying to reach? People whose work lives are intense, and for whom everything-including eating and exercising-takes a back seat to their jobs? Parents? Kids?

A: The show is really for the whole family. While episodes and segments are informative and contain lots of information, we try to make the show fun and engaging for kids as well. We have everything from informative segments on city health policy, to a doctor that sings songs about eating healthy for kids. The hope is that the show will start a dialogue between parents and their kids, which is one of the most important aspects of learning to live a healthy lifestyle.

Q: What’s the one thing that you’d like your New York viewers to take away from the show?

A: That there are tons of ways to get involved and seek out healthy options in this city. We’ve found that in every neighborhood, something positive is going on, and it’s important for all New Yorkers to know that healthy options are out there for them.

Q: The series features visits to rooftop gardens and a Brooklyn. Do you think such places are well known? Will they be surprising to viewers?

A: The most surprising aspect of the Urban Farming episode isn’t the fact that farms and community gardens exist in New York, it’s the amount and variety of what they can produce. I think, for many, the idea of growing and creating a sustainable ecosystem for food in New York is a lark, but there are people out there [doing it]. It’s happening right now.

Q: How did producing the series impact the way that you do lunch in New York-both in general and while you were shooting? Was take-out ordered more mindfully at all? Has it made you work out differently?

A: Well, it’s funny. One of the benefits-perks, I guess you would call it-in shooting at all these fresh, organic, healthy restaurants is that the owners, chefs, everybody [is] just so happy to get the message out, that we’ve been able to sample food everywhere we go. It gets to a point where, after shooting four locations in a day, it’s like, “I’m full, no more food.” But it’s so good. And amazing how good for you it is.

Q: When you were looking for subjects to feature on the show, did you find more or less or exactly what you expected in number and quality and commitment?

A: A lot of that was through research, but there’s so much out there in New York. When people heard about what we were doing, they immediately wanted to get involved. And they all had connections to more and more organizations and people. It’s really like this support network of healthy initiatives. Everyone’s aware of what everyone is doing, and they’re all willing to help each other out. We’re all on the same team.