Adapted from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab:
If kids grow vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them, according to a new study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, “A Plant to Plate Pilot: A Cold Climate High School Garden Increased Vegetable Selection but Also Waste” by Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. Drew Hanks.
This pilot study shows that when garden grown vegetables were slipped into school salads, kids were over four times as likely to take a salad. “This is a small study, but it suggests gardens can help children’s diets – even in the snow belt,” said lead author Dr. Wansink Director of the Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design.
The study, conducted in upstate New York, measured the change in vegetable selection and plate waste when school grown salad greens were incorporated in the cafeteria school lunch. The researchers measured the selections and plate waste of a total of 370 enrolled high school students over three separate days.
When the salad bar contained produce grown by students, the percentage of students who selected salads with their meals increased from 2% to 10% and, on average, students ate two-thirds of their salads. Unfortunately, in addition to increased salad selection, the amount of plate waste also increased. Yet, overall salad consumption for the entire student body increased from approximately 5 to 12 servings per day.
This study implies the larger potential benefits of the school garden programs. “We see great promise with this research. The first hurdle in increasing vegetable consumption is simply getting kids to put them on their plate,” concluded co-author Dr. Hanks.
Image credit: Photo by Alison Fromme