Did you know that refusing to try new foods, or a fear of new foods, is a normal childhood developmental stage?
According to an Australian study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, getting kids into a school gardening program may help them push through this “picky eater” phase.
Australian researchers found that elementary school children had an increased willingness to try new foods after they had grown and cooked them in a school-based kitchen and gardening program.
“A combined cooking and gardening program can have a dramatic impact on children’s attitudes to food in a relatively short space of time,” said study author Lisa Gibbs, Ph.D., an associate director at the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program at the University of Melbourne.
Not only did these children spend time in the garden, but they prepped and cooked foods to share with their classmates weekly. Other subjects were also incorporated into the program to round out their gardening education.
… children would measure plants and track their growth as part of their math lessons; write about their time in the garden for an English assignment; or learn to identify plants in science class.
While the researchers didn’t find quantitative evidence of healthier eating due to participation in the program, the day-to-day observations were encouraging.
The educators observed that the children had been introduced to new ingredients and tastes; kids were bringing healthier snacks and bag lunches to school; and parents were reporting that their children had become more adventurous eaters at home.
School-based kitchen and gardening programs are a great way to help children understand where their food comes from and gain life skills in gardening and cooking at an early age…
Want to learn more about Edible Education? Check out this video by The Edible Schoolyard Project: