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LaGuardia College event hosts first CUNY greenmarket

Cheryl Rogowski (l.) says her W. Rogowski Farm's greenmarket at LaGuardia Community College did well during the college's Food Day. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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Fruits and vegetables for sale straight from upstate farms have become common sights in many Queens neighborhoods, but last month marked the first time a greenmarket has come to a CUNY institution.

Hundreds of students poured into the atrium of LaGuardia Community College Oct. 24 to buy fresh food from W. Rogowski Farm in Pine Island, N.Y. The greenmarket was just one part of the Food Celebration Day at the college at 31-10 Thomson Ave.

Cyndi Pierce, clinical coordinator for the college’s food and nutrition programs, said LaGuardia’s food and nutrition club as well as the dietetic technician and food service management programs hosted the event, which is also held on campuses nationwide.

Aimed at encouraging students to eat natural over processed or packaged food, LaGuardia’s Food Day included the greenmarket, student visits to classrooms, cooking demonstrations and a table set up with illustrations of the tremendous amount of sugar and fat in popular sodas, candy and fast food meals.

“The focus of our event today is just trying to get people to eat new food,” Pierce said.

Kim Campbell, an Astoria resident and president of the college’s food and nutrition club, said students on the campus often come to the club with questions about healthy eating and recipes, eager to wade through sometimes contradictory information in the media.

“Nutrition is very confusing,” Campbell said. “It’s not common, everyday talk.”

The college’s enthusiasm for healthy food came as a pleasant surprise to Cheryl Rogowski, owner of W. Rogowski Farm, which sold goods in the college’s atrium. Rogowski said she had easily hundreds of customers Oct. 24.

“This is amazing,” Rogowski said. “The outpouring and support is just incredible.”

Bette Cohen, director of the college’s food nutrition programs, said this was the first time a greenmarket had ever been in a City University of New York college.

Rogowski said the fruit, sweet potatoes, honey and greens were the biggest sellers of the day.

“I think it shows that people really appreciate what good food smells, feels and tastes like,” she said.

Also in the atrium, students used a Yonanas machine to blend fruits into a smoothie-like dessert with no dairy, which were offered as free samples. Visitors were also challenged to write a list of all the spices they could name or put the foods that came from their home country on a map of the world.

Cohen said the event was not promoting a specific diet, but it encouraged the students to eat foods with single ingredients or to make recipes on their own so that they could monitor how much sugar or fat was going into them.

“Hamburger doesn’t need any help,” Cohen said. “You can make meatloaf all by yourself.”

Pierce said while fresh food can sometimes be more expensive than processed food and can go bad more quickly, LaGuardia’s programs and club have information on how to best keep food. She also said frozen vegetables are as healthy as fresh.

“We understand the challenges. People have concerns,” Pierce said. “But there are resources.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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