Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Young & Green: Hassaballah's Food Diary

You’re reading Young & Green, the new group blog written by participants of GrowNYC’s Youthmarket. This network of urban farm stands is operated by neighborhood youth, supplied by local farmers, and supplies communities throughout NYC with fresh fruits and veggies. Pretty cool, huh?


THIS WEEK'S MARKET SUPERSTAR: Hassaballah Yaya, age 21 


We asked Hassaballah Yaya, a college student majoring in biology and a three-year vet of the Learn It Grow It Eat It Youthmarket, to share how working for a farmers market changed his life—and his diet.


Regarding that first part, he says: “I’ve learned how to give presentations, prepare healthy dishes, and prepare workshops. I’ve learned to put a smile on my face when speaking to people or even just passing them. This plays a big role in my life, since I come across lots of different people, from patients in hospital waiting rooms to kids around the Bronx. Cooking and presentations are the perfect way to reach out to our community and educate them about their health.


“I also learned that promoting things like eating healthy and recycling helps maintain a healthy environment.”


And what about part 2, his diet? “I had never kept a food diary until two weeks ago,” he told us. “I don’t usually pay attention to what I eat, so I had to be careful and try not to overeat. I was surprised to see I sometimes eat more than three meals a day!”


Read more of Hassaballah’s thoughts about the market then check out his two-week food diary.


How long have you worked for Youthmarket?

I worked for Learn It Grow It Eat It Youthmarket for 3 years.


Has the market changed what you eat? In what ways?

Before I started working at the market, I did not know the consequences of what I eat daily. After joining GrowNYC, I learned to pay attention to what I eat and stay healthy.


Do you cook at home? What? And for whom?

My mom usually cooks, but when I cook, it’s for my mom and brothers. My favorite meal to cook is rice with vegetable sauce. It takes only a little over 45 minutes.


What do they think about your cooking?

Well, they have a say when I try to cook something I’m not really good at it. But I only cook what I know, so they like it.


Has the market affected your job or school plans? How?

I’ve learned a lot about public health and nutrition. I’m a human biology major, but I’m considering a minor in the public health field. Part of my job at GrowNYC is to host nutritional presentations at the market and a nearby hospital. 


Has it affected how you interact with your classmates?

Maybe, yes. I always eat with my friends in the university dining hall, so they see what I eat every day. They ask me about my diet and why I pay so much attention to what I eat.


What have you learned about dealing with tough customers?

Every day is tough customers’ day. But like everybody says, a customer is always right. So I always try to be gentle and kind, and try to help them however I can.


What’s your favorite fruit or veggie that you tried for the first time while working at the market?

I enjoyed tasting blueberries at the market—so different from the ones I get at the supermarket.


What’s one you’re not crazy about?

I’m crazy about all of them, but if I have pick a least favorite, it would be apples.


What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about working for Youthmarket?

I would say enjoy every minute of it. It is an experience that will last forever. I’ve come to eat healthier and live a friendlier life.

HASSABALLAH'S FOOD DIARY (Click the image below for a larger version.)


• Meet Danny

• and read his food diary

• Also say hi to Dekendra

• and Phylisha


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