Eat your vegetables! It’s not a new message but one that is more urgent today given the soaring numbers of obese children. An innovative push in the United States focuses on Farm to School (F2S) activities where locally-grown fruits and vegetables (FV) find a place on cafeteria menus.
Great idea. Yet many millions of tons of food are wasted every year—much of it tossed in the trash from a student’s tray. (See the April 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times newspaper about $100,000 worth of food wasted in Los Angeles Schools every DAY).
Are student’s benefiting at all?
Research done at the University of Wisconsin in Madison asked if a F2S program would change knowledge, attitudes, or consumption of fruit and vegetables as well as short-term BMIs.
Third through fifth-grade pupils at 12 schools were tested. The researcher found:
- Small increases in dietary knowledge and attitudes toward eating fruits and vegetables
- Increased FV access and consumption in school lunch.
- No change in total energy intake.
- Increase in energy from fruits and vegetables, indicating calorie displacement.
- No change in BMIs.
The author concluded that F2S programs could play a part in supporting community health.
Lowering obesity rates will take a while. But putting more beans and berries in a child’s tummy has rewards far beyond weight loss.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, prebiotics, fibers both soluble and insoluble, antioxidants, flavonoids and of course vitamins and minerals. Potato chips and soda look bankrupt in comparison.