This is Rob.
Rob is one of the 2%.
Of 13,000 teenagers surveyed in 2017, only 2% ate the recommended amount of vegetables, and 7% ate enough fruit. Surprised? In 2021, the picture has worsened. Teenagers have sat steady at 2%, but in the past 15 years, children from the ages of 1-19 have dropped their fresh vegetable consumption by 50%. And adults? Don’t get cocky just because you are older- 90% of adults don’t eat enough vegetables.
Vegetable intake is low across all socio-economic levels and across all groups- including boys and girls, of all shades of skin.
Why don’t kids eat more vegetables?
The two most important reasons are that parents are not eating enough veggies (remember that 90% of adults not eating enough veggies), and veggies aren’t branded. There is a reason that food companies spend a lot of money on advertising their brand- it works. What was the last food you saw advertised? Most likely not microgreens or carrots. Advertising is powerful. It affects what we eat- and by extension, what we do not eat. When was the last time you saw fresh vegetables advertised? What do we need to do to counteract that lack of advertising and encourage the young people under our care to become one of the 2%?
To become one of the 2%, children must be exposed to plenty of fruits and vegetables early in life. “Exposure, and repeated exposure even after they reject a food, is important,” says Angela Lemond, a registered dietitian, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Just because they don’t like a food once doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.” As parents, not only do we need to model eating vegetables, we must not be quitters.
Including children in choosing not only the vegetables at the supermarket but choosing recipes to use them in helps them feel ownership in their meals.
But, the best way to encourage vegetable-loving children is to let them grow their own.
Now, I know what you are thinking- “I don’t have time or space to grow a garden and my kid won’t spend his summer working in the dirt”. A garden plot and weekends are not necessary to grow vegetables. You can do this!
Microgreens are tiny, tasty, nutritious veggies that are grown indoors in a space as small as a windowsill and are ready to harvest in 10 days. Because they are up to 40% more nutritious than full-grown veggies, children do not need to eat as much to get the micronutrients that they need for their growing bodies and minds. Plus, children as young as three can grow microgreens with 5 minutes a day of help. Microgreens can change a 98-percenter into one of the healthy 2%.
This is why I do what I do. Why I am building a resource for parents and families to grow, learn, and explore with microgreens. Because the health of a generation of children is at stake.