Involving children in a school gardening program may do more than cultivate a green thumb. It may also cultivate a greater interest in trying new foods, a new study suggests.
Australian researchers found that elementary school children had an increased willingness to try new foods after they had grown and cooked them in a school-based kitchen and gardening program.
"A combined cooking and gardening program can have a dramatic impact on children's attitudes to food in a relatively short space of time," said study author Lisa Gibbs, Ph.D., an associate director at the Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program at the University of Melbourne.
The study is published today (March 7) in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Researchers compared six schools with a kitchen garden program to six schools that had schoolyard gardens but lacked a structured program. They collected data from 764 children ages 8 to 12 and 562 parents at the 12 schools, and evaluated the program's impact over a two-and-a-half year period.