On June 27, 2012, a study from the University of Alberta reported something that I already knew. Yen Li Chu from the School of Public Health stated, “These data show that encouraging kids to get involved in the meal preparation could be an effective health promotion strategy for schools and parents.”
The main lesson learned in this new study published on Public Health Nutrition? Getting kids involved in their food preparation increases the chances that they will make and enjoy healthy choices.
Now, to me, this wasn’t news. This was something that I learned as a child and, as a parent, have seen with my own children. This is the main basis behind Healthy Kids Grow. Getting kids involved in their food production makes all the difference. But that is not limited to the kitchen and cooking. It can also make a difference when children learn how to grow their own foods in their own garden.
This has been my belief for a very long time. Recently I saw proof of this once again with my own children. My youngest son has never been a nig fan of green veggies. However, we went out for a day of picking strawberries and peas at a local u-pick farm. My son had a great time with the strawberries as expected but he fell in love with the snow peas. He had eaten half of what he picked before we even got home.
And then again in the kitchen…that same son has learned that even with 2 cups of spinach (something he does not like) added to our smoothies, he still loves them.
So, given this published study and my own thoughts on the topic, I decided to ask some of my Facebook and Twitter followers if they thought getting kids involved really made a difference. Here are some of the responses I received:
My friend Cathy said, “It’s been my experience that little kids, just learning where everything comes from, are fascinated by the fact that plants get flowers and those flowers turn into things you can eat. Any child old enough to toddle around can and will water plants, and this simple activity seems to get them invested in the whole growing cycle. Honestly, I don’t know who is more into it, more amazed; the child or me.”
My friend Millie shared, “Absolutely. It’s the only way my 3 year old will eat any veggies. If they just show up on his plate, no way will he eat them. If he picks them from our garden himself, he will eat lots of any vegetable. He also adores planting a seed in a pot and will take care with watering and watching it grow. He will tell me his plants are “sad” when they get wilty and are in need of water and are “happy” when they are thriving. My 10 year old can recognize vegetable plants and gets concerned by their quality when visiting garden centers. He will say “Mama, look at those tomato plants; they are all stunted! They should take better care of these plants!” He also knows how to tell when the beans are just ready for harvest and loves to bring in enough for dinner first thing in the morning.”
Even my own father, John, jumped in to say, “My daughter spent much of her teen years in a big mid-western vegetable garden – growing some of the best beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers and cantaloupe ever! Now she’s raising healthy kids of her own and starting a farm to teach new kids about fruits and vegetables – and to help make healthy kids grow!”
Our Twitter friend @daydreamymama tweeted, “Kids need to garden & cook in order to feel a connection with their food beyond the lowest common denominator of taste.”
Twitter friend @cshepherdkktm had this to say, “Our children need to understand the steps needed to get our food on our plate, The Garden is a great place to start. The Kitchen; what a great place to connect with your child , laugh, learn, love and make a great meal for your family.”
This is the goal of our little farm and the Healthy Kids Grow program. We want to get kids out there learning how to grow their own food, learn where their food really comes from and how to get in the kitchen and make some amazing and healthy meals.
Together we can all help to make a more knowledgeable and healthier generation that is no longer dependent on fast and processed foods. We are working on getting the farm ready to open, but we need your help and support.
Please visit out campaign support page HERE and share it with your friends. Together, we can make a difference.