There is a sure way for moms and dads to get their kids more fresh fruits and vegetables. The answer: don’t have anything else in the house. No cookies, no chips, no pop and no ice cream sandwiches. Absolutely nothing.
Of course, but drastic times call for drastic measures.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report from 2009 titled “Younger Consumers Exhibit Less Demand for Fresh Vegetables” revealed that “people born more recently are found to spend less money for fresh vegetables than older Americans do.” And unless something happens to alter how the young people make food choices, the report warns, those kids of today will likely eat less fresh vegetables in their later years than today’s older generations currently do. The typical household, the authors concluded, could spend about 10% less for fresh vegetables for home consumption in 2020 than it did in 2000, after adjusting for inflation.
Why is this so? It is probably because young folks don’t know how cook with fresh veggies, they eat out a ton and they eat the wrong things at home.
How can this troubling trend be reversed?
Excluding bad options is the approach taken by the USDA to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by kids at school. Take away all other tempting options and leave students with only healthy options of fruits and vegetables. Take away the barbecue chips, take away the Butterfinger bar, take away the M&Ms.
The kids will eat more produce, over time.
Although some districts complain that kids are shunning the supersized fruits and vegetables in school meals and abandoning the lunch program altogether, one wonders if those school districts have been diligent enough about moving toward more healthy options for kids.
One produce wholesaler who is a big provider of fresh produce to school districts in Western U.S. states told me that the idea that kids can’t get enough calories from school lunches is bogus. With many kids enjoying salad bars at schools, he said that kids can go back to the salad bar as often as they want.
If they are hungry enough, they will go back and eat more produce.
Provide only good options and there is no way to make a wrong choice.
This principle of exclusion of bad choices - making “no provision for the flesh” in Biblical parlance - makes choosing the right path somewhat easier than it would otherwise be.
This is true in my own life. For example, if there is a package of Oreos in the cupboard, that will tend to be the “go to” snack item for any particular time I am in close proximity. If the Oreos are gone, I might check the cupboard for a box of Cheezits or Wheat Thins. If the salty snacks are not to be found, I may finally cast a furtive glance at the fruit bowl, ultimately drawn to that gala apple or banana. Gee, why didn’t I think of the apple first? I know better!