They set up shop on the corners of almost every major intersection in South L.A. – shiny metal carts parked under bright rainbow-colored umbrellas, packed with a variety of fruits on ice. Offering a healthier snack alternative, fruit vendors sell big bags of peeled and sliced fruits with the option of adding lime juice, salt and chili powder.
Cristoban Castillo, 27, has been working as a fruit vendor for the past three months. He prepares and sells the fruit from a cart on the sidewalk outside the post office on Central Avenue and 70th Street, working nine hours a day – every day.
Castillo immigrated to the United States from Guatemala, where his family still lives, four years ago to earn money. Castillo, who doesn't live far from where he sells his fruit, said that he earns less than $100 a day.
The fruit vendors in South LA, do not usually own their carts, as is the case with Castillo. The carts are typically owned by a company or an individual, who then hires people to man them. Each morning, Castillo picks up his cart and his fruit, peels and preps the fruit, packs the cart full of ice and heads out to his station.
Castillo, who is not married and has no family in the United States, said he more or less makes enough money to survive but that he wants to earn enough money to help out back home.
“Right now,” he said, “I am able to send a little money to my family in Guatemala, but it’s not enough.”