: Gardening gets kids to try new fruits & veggies?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Getting kids to help in the garden can improve their eating habits because gardening itself increases their interest in trying new fruits and vegetables.
WHAT WE KNOW
Hoeing, watering, harvesting … there are so many ways kids can help in the garden! Gardens are outdoor classrooms that engage children in learning about where their food comes from and how it’s grown, while also introducing them to an expanded variety of fruits and vegetables. Simultaneously, gardens get kids excited about fruits, and vegetables and cooking, cultivating lifelong healthy habits. A great way to decrease the epidemic of chronic health problems in children is to change their attitudes toward foods and exercise, and to make healthy foods more available: a garden is a great way to do this!
Garden-based learning is an educational strategy that can be used by parents and teachers. It not only promotes healthy eating habits, but it also incorporates another life essential—exercise! Some studies are even finding that garden-based learning improves test scores, self-esteem, social interaction and behavior in children!
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A review published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association analyzed 11 studies on the effects of gardening on children’s eating habits. Overall, the review stated that garden-based nutrition intervention programs may have the potential to promote increased fruit and vegetable intake among children and adolescents as well as increase the willingness to taste fruits and vegetables among younger children.¹
Another gardening study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 98% of the children studied enjoyed tasting new fruits and vegetables, 96% enjoyed working in the garden, and 91% enjoyed learning about fruits and vegetables through a gardening project. The study also found that gardening significantly increased the number of new fruits and vegetables children tried. It also showed an increase in asking behaviors for fruits and vegetables.²
Regardless of these findings, the most important thing about garden-based learning is that it’s fun for kids! Plus, since they’re putting a lot of hard work into growing their fruits and veggies, they‘re more likely to eat them! Your kids will be so excited about what they’ve created they’ll want to gobble up all the goodies! Gardening is also beneficial to health because it promotes exercise, encourages family time, and makes fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with health-promoting qualities, more available!
Visit our Kid’s Gardening Guide for easy gardening projects you and your kids can enjoy together. Also check out our kid-friendly recipes or our general recipe database for tasty ways to use all your gardening creations!
¹ Robinson-O’Brien, R., M. Story, and S. Heim. “Impact of Garden-Based Youth Nutrition Intervention Programs: A Review.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association
(2009); 109; 273-80.
² Heim, S., J. Stang, and M. Ireland. “A Garden Pilot Project Enhances Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Children.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association (2009); 109; 1220-26.