Many parents agonize over how to get their children to eat vegetables. We’ve all heard stories of the kindergartener who will eat anything, as long as it’s white. How about the child who would rather go hungry than eat green beans or broccoli? Working in the schools, I hear it over and over again, ‘Kids don’t like vegetables!’ My experience working with school aged children tells me a different story.
Kids Like Growing Veggies!
I have had the privilege of working with five different schools and after-school programs, where I provided nutrition education and/or garden education. In all of the programs I coordinate, we include multiple opportunities for the students to eat what they are growing. They get the chance to
taste bell peppers that they have grown, perhaps make a stir-fry with their own onions and swiss chard or create a simple salad of mixed greens. They are asked to critique what they have prepared and tried. There are always a few students who do not care for one of the dishes or who don’t care for a particular ingredient. Never, not once, have I had any students refuse to try what we have made. Never, not once, have there been any leftovers. They ask for more! They tell me they don’t normally like ‘fill in the blank’, but will try it. They tell me they love to cook! They scold each other for forgetting to use ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘excuse me’ in the kitchen!
And, They’ll Eat What They Grow!
What gives?! I really believe it’s quite simple; if they grow it, they will eat it. There is ownership, pride and intrigue when they have had a hand in growing their own food. The same magic that entrances back-yard gardeners and local farmers captivates our children. People have many different reasons for gardening, some simply enjoy it while others do it to reduce their grocery bill and others do it to feel more secure about the food they are eating. Whatever the reason for having a garden, there is something rejuvenating and regenerating about growing your own food that the kids experience too. So, bring your picky eater into the garden and watch their inquisitiveness and enthusiasm skyrocket.