By Emily Hulse, MS
The child care centers we work with on our Little Voices for Healthy Choices program are encouraged to use a garden-based nutrition education kit from the USDA Team Nutrition called “Grow It, Try It, Like It.” Children are encouraged to try new fruits and vegetables again and again throughout this resource. Children touch, smell, and taste new fruits and vegetables. Children also learn that fruits and vegetables are grown from plants or trees in the ground. Planting activities help children connect the delicious food choices at the table with the different growing conditions and plants that produce fruits and vegetables.
In an earlier blog post this summer, I shared about different tips to help get your children to eat more fruits and vegetables. One of those tips was to Grow them! I wrote of my daughter’s excitement in caring for the garden and watching them grow. Well later this summer when the garden started producing fruits and vegetables and they were ready to eat, this idea of “Grow It, Try It, Like It” was proven to be a success in our household. Below, you’ll see a picture of Mya holding a green bell pepper from our garden. I love peppers and buy them pretty much every week from the store so Mya has definitely been exposed a lot to this vegetable before and it’s been offered for her to try. She normally refers to them as mom’s peppers and isn’t really willing to try them. Well, when the pepper was ready to pick from our garden she was very excited and after I told her she could go pick it, she says mom I want to try the pepper. She excitedly tried and ate some pepper strips for snack and then again at dinner when it was passed around to her, she put a couple of them on her plate. I was shocked! I’m sure if she wouldn’t have grown this vegetable in her own garden she would have not willingly and excitedly tried it.
This concept of “Grow It, Try It, Like It” wasn’t just proven a success in my house but also many of the child care centers this summer that had a garden at their facility. I stopped by Little Stars Child Care Center earlier this summer and the older children happened to be out caring for their garden (picture below). They were so excited to show me their garden and tell me all about what they were growing and how they had been able to eat some of the vegetables already. They liked using their own lettuce for the tacos they had at lunch one day. One of the teachers commented how she was encouraged because some of the children that probably normally wouldn’t have ate it did willingly try it from their garden.
Did you grow something in your garden this summer that your kids ate that they normally wouldn’t have if you had just bought it from the grocery store? We would love to hear about it!