Get your kids to become vegetable adventurers

 It’s scary to think only six percent of primary school aged children eat the recommended amount of vegetables.

But a new program by the CSIRO is using science to encourage them to try them out and enjoy them.

The free program, Taste & Learn, provides primary school teachers with simple, hands-on lesson plans aligned with the Australian curriculum.

It draws on research that shows what works best with kids is repeatedly offering a variety of vegetables, objectively describing vegetables, and making vegetables fun.

CSIRO’s Dr Astrid Poelman, sensory and consumer scientist, said Taste & Learn was based on research over many years into why we like the foods we like, including vegetables.

“Luckily, liking and eating vegetables is a learned behaviour. Research shows the number one way to get kids to enjoy vegetables is to repeatedly offer a variety of them,” Dr Poelman said.

“Making veggies fun in a positive, interactive environment is also critical.”

With the Taste & Learn program, children get to explore vegetables and all their senses through fun activities and science experiments.

“The program encourages them to become ‘food adventurers’,” she said.

“It might seem counter-intuitive to adults but avoiding explicit health messages works better with kids.”

Set over five weeks, the Taste & Learn program supports student academic learning by boosting literacy and science skills, amongst others.

Primary schools can download the Taste & Learn resources today HERE and start teaching when ready.

With many parents being teachers for the immediate future, they can also download materials.

FUN FACTS

  • Humans are born to like sweet foods and dislike bitter foods. Vegetables do not align very well to being liked from an early age. Many of our food preferences are learned in childhood and teaching kids to enjoy vegetables has lifelong benefits.
  • Research shows that the key ways to get kids to enjoy vegetables are repeatedly offering a variety. And to make veggies fun in a positive, interactive environment, and to de-emphasise health messages.
  • A recently published CSIRO study shows that the Taste & Learn program increases children’s knowledge of vegetables and the senses. It also boosts their ability to verbalise their sensations, vegetable acceptance, intentions and willingness to eat vegetables as well as number of new vegetables tried.
  • Parents take heart! CSIRO research shows that persevering with offering small amounts of at least three vegetables to kids at the dinner table increases their overall vegetable intake.