Everyone knows that the trick to getting your kids to eat right is drowning vegetables in cheese sauce. Or, better yet, “cleverly” hiding them in brownies.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) actually has another idea — and it doesn’t involve disguising vegetables or duping kids. (What’s so scary about vegetables, anyway?) The Department recently released three curriculums to help teach children about nutrition and healthy eating choices at a young age.
The Great Garden Detective Adventure curriculum, designed for third and fourth grades, features activities such as growing, harvesting, and tasting fruits and vegetables, as well as preparing basic recipes. “Garden-based learning opportunities are a promising way to boost academic achievement,” writes the Team Nutrition initiative of the USDA, which organized these programs. “Helping to increase children’s acceptance of fruits and vegetables can also improve their overall diets.”
The Dig In! curriculum was created for fifth and sixth grades. It includes a gardening guide, as well as home booklets for parents and posters that creatively personify vegetables as the kind of foods as “fun.” (Though it seems somewhat questionable why one poster riffs off a LMFAO song, for a ten to eleven year-old audience.)
The final curriculum is an updated version of Grow It, Try It, Like It!, a nutrition education kit made for preschool aged children. The program familiarizes kids with fresh fruits and vegetables, encouraging them to touch, taste, and smell the ingredients.
So the “trick” to getting kids to eat right may be as simple as showing them what’s behind the cheese sauce curtain. The free educational materials provided by the USDA can be found here.