For generations, parents and children have battled at the dinner table over vegetables. The common notion that children dislike vegetables can be summed up in this funny commercial from Visit Las Vegas.
The commercial is cute, but the sad reality is Americans do not eat enough vegetables daily or weekly. Most eat none.
How to tackle this problem?
Grow your own food and make sure children participate in the process.
Research shows when children help in the garden, they eat more vegetables.
Since early March, the students at Andrew Cooke Magnet School in Waukegan have been growing salad greens in the Tower Gardens in the school greenhouse, along with trays of microgreens. They learned about seeds and roots plus enjoyed planting hydroponic cubes with lettuce, kale, and herb seeds. Take a look at how well everything grew!
Another way to increase vegetable consumption is to have programs at schools that allow children to explore new foods in a fun and instructive way.
In late April, Plant Based Nutrition Movement led classes of students through a lesson called “Eat the Rainbow.” Younger students focused on the colors, while higher grades explored eating plant parts (seeds, stems, roots, leaves, and flowers). Each table had fresh vegetables and beans for the students to sample. Students would be instructed to find a yellow vegetable, for example, and look at it, smell it, and touch it. Is it smooth or bumpy? Will it be sweet or sour? Then after tasting it, they discussed the flavors and voted. Older students were asked which was a root, leaf, or flower, which can be challenging because students don’t always know all the vegetables. Yellow and purple carrots were exciting because they did not know if they tasted like orange ones. To their amazement, they do!
One third-grade class was exceptionally enthusiastic. When the countdown was given to sample a vegetable, they raised their piece in the air and yelled “CHEERS” together before eating. If you want to get your children to eat vegetables, turning it into a fun tasting experiment with their friends might be the most genius way ever.
Every class voted on the vegetables, and the winner was…..
Many thanks to Meryl Fury and Carrie Bruno of Plant Based Nutrition Movement for your incredible vegetable tasting lessons and for partnering with Greentown Grows to enrich and expand children’s experiences in Waukegan. And a massive shout out to all the outstanding teachers and staff at Andrew Cooke Magnet School for working with us to make this program successful.