Most kids don't seem to like fruit & veg - they get really picky from a young age. Ever wondered why?
Well, the science suggests that it's an evolutionary survival strategy. Our ancestors millions of years ago needed to learn what was edible and what was poisonous. Still today we are surrounded by a lot of toxic plants in the wild. So early humans evolved a special gene that makes the toxins in these plants taste bitter. This gene is strong in children to trigger an aversion to eating any old leaf or tuber. For children, vegetables have a very bitter taste, but this diminishes as they grow older and the evolutionary gene starts to say "ok, I think I'm learning what isn't dangerous to it!" As we grow up, we lose half of our taste receptors by the time we reach our 20's, and so the veggiest start to taste less bitter over time, and we gradually develop a taste for what we really love to eat.
So no need to tell kids off or feel frustrated. It's evolution! But what we can do is what the evolution also intended - for adults to encourage children gently, making it fun and creating good memories about highly edible and nutritious "good food".
The other problem, of course, was when humans created junk food :) Pretty much everything is packed with sugars, and sugars are addictive. No wonder children prefer Heinz tomato ketchup than fresh tomatoes or fizzy drinks instead of a homemade fruit milkshake (and the list goes on!)
One extraordinary way this was made a brilliant example of, was with our good old national treasure - Jamie Oliver. Remember when he did his big School Meals project in 2005? And in 2008, Jamie returned in a big drive to get kids to grow veg in schools. But somehow so many schools just don't do it. Teachers are underpaid, overworked. Our government always cuts funding to everything.
But perhaps now is a good time, as we started this wonderful community project to make our streets green and flowery, filling our homes with free cut-flowers, and growing our own fruit & veg in our little gardens, to reach out to our neighbours with children and offer them seeds & seedlings? And help parents collect pots to plant up, making gifts if they are busy working.
If you are family reading this, come on board and lets all have fun together! There are lots of things for your children to learn, they can even draw pictures of their progress or take photos for you to upload onto our Facebook group.
The key thing Jamie's experiment with his school veg-growing showed was that when kids feel they have ownership over a project, when parents trust them (with something safe, which gardening is), then they respond with tonnes of enthusiasm and happiness.
And with Spring and Summer coming, this is the perfect way to spend time out in the garden with the kids and help them take ownership of your Edible Kitchen Garden! This website is made to be child-friendly, so feel free to let them read all my posts if that helps them to feel part of our Big Jericho Community Science Project!
So join our Facebook group and get your kids super excited about growing AND EATING!! the fruit & veg that we'll encourage them to grow!! I'll be guiding anyone who needs advice & tips, so don't feel this is a lot of work. It's not, it's super easy! We'll be able to upload fun safe videos and info for kids to read for themselves about fruit and veg. And as the Jericho Kids 'n Green Club, parents will be able to chat on the Facebook page and share lots of fun info and resources.
Take a look at Jamie's website about food for kids as our starting point!