Gardening influences a child's views on eating veggies

November 12, 2002 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Gardening influences a child's views on eating veggies

Researchers at Texas A&M University in College Station discovered that when 4- and 5-year-olds spent around 30 minutes per week planting and tending to a garden, they became less likely to refuse vegetables when offered them. The children also increased their preference for green beans over other vegetables after spending 8 weeks in a garden that included green beans.

Young children often think that food comes from a grocery store. Letting them work in a garden and watch edible things grow allows them to make a connection to their food source, perhaps rendering it more appealing. Beyond seeing where vegetables come from, working in a garden lets kids become attached to the foods, the researcher say, which may render the vegetables they grew themselves even more appealing than those they buy.

During the study, the researchers brought 22 children, age 4 and 5 years, to gardening plots for 30 minutes per week for 8 weeks. The children planted green beans, bell peppers, radishes and cherry tomatoes. After planting the vegetables, the children watered the gardens each week, weeded the land and got involved in composting.

Bringing young children to gardens may be an easy way to get them to like vegetables, and they may also become more willing to try unfamiliar types. Involving parents in the process--perhaps by starting a garden at home--may help kids like vegetables even more.

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