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Can Your Kids Pass the Test?

Ready for the latest IQ test for your kids?  It is an easy one; all you need are 10 items, presumably easily obtainable in grocery stores all across the country.  It is a simple quiz of identification: can your child correctly identify each of the 10 items?

* Sweet Potato
* Broccoli
* Eggplant
* Tomato
* Carrots
* Bell Pepper
* Brussels Sprouts
* Asparagus
* Onion
* Spinach

One point for each right answer.  Bonus points if your child can not only identify it, but eats it on even an occasional basis.  What do you feel would be an acceptable score?  Is it fair to say “failing” would be getting less than half right?

Guess what? Our kids are FAILING.  Across the country, they are FAILING.  If this was a math test, adults would be up in arms.  If this was a reading comprehension test, parents would be demanding more time allotted in school to study up.  But this is merely their health and well-being.  Why get alarmed?

The list above is considered by a variety of sources to be the top 10 most nutritious vegetables.  Some lists say “spinach” while others list “collard greens” but other than slight discrepancies like that, these vegetables are widely agreed upon as being the best ones to eat.  Hmmm, and yet our kids don’t even know what they are?  They can’t even recognize the LOOK of them??

Perhaps there are some households where the kids are eating these items, but just aren’t aware of what they are eating per se.  (Seriously?  You’ve got kids eating Brussels sprouts but they don’t know what they are called??)  For the most part though, I would argue that kids aren’t familiar with many of these vegetables because they aren’t exposed to many (any?) of these vegetables.  Hard to remember the name “asparagus” or what it looks like if it has never been put on your plate.

This Zen Mama Wannabe is as guilty as anyone.  Only 5 of the 10 vegetables listed above have I ever even attempted to serve to my children.  I keep meaning to get into the whole eggplant thing, even have a few recipes to try, but haven’t gotten there – yet.  The other night I sliced a couple cherry tomatoes in half (yep – 4 LITTLE pieces of tomato per child) and put them in each one’s serving of corn.  I was quite proud of myself – it made the corn much more colorful and I was putting 2 vegetables on their plate instead of the standard 1.  Talk about branching out!

You would have thought that I was poisoning my children:  the faces, the moans, the drama that came from having to eat 4 little bites of tomato!  It doesn’t matter that my son likes tomato sauce on his pizza.  “Tomatoes” are different – and if you don’t understand that logic, you obviously have never been around picky eaters.

But picky eaters or not, kids need to be exposed to more vegetables.  They need to know what a potato actually looks like BEFORE it is sliced and diced – or fried!  They need to see that carrots grow UNDER the ground and have greens coming from the top of them.

I got thinking about all this after seeing the recent TED speech with Jamie Oliver, who spoke on the importance of educating yourself and your children on healthy nutrition.  He was the one who showed how some kids he worked with couldn’t identify cauliflower or potatoes or even a tomato.  It got me thinking.  I researched to find the 10 healthiest vegetables, and with the help of some other moms, showed them to a bunch of kids.  Not one child got higher than the equivalent of a B- (and most got D’s and below).

One could argue kids are too busy doing other things these days to know the answers to a vegetable quiz.  They aren’t helping in the kitchen; they are too busy doing all their scheduled activities, and homework, and oh yes 8 hours of screen time a day.  But as the obesity numbers rise (as do the medical implications of that, such as Diabetes 2, etc which is also on the rise) it makes you wonder if maybe we shouldn’t do a little more to get our kids into the kitchen – and out of the cupboard!

I would be willing to bet if you showed kids 10 processed food items, such as goldfish crackers, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, etc. they would score close to 100 percent.  Not surprising when two thirds of the people in our country are considered overweight or obese.  Just recently it was reported that there are actually more obese people than overweight ones.  Our children are predicted to not live as long as the current generation – for the first time ever!

Something needs to be done.  One place to begin is to get kids in the kitchen, exposed to vegetables and healthy foods.  I am going to start tonight!  We’re having sweet potatoes – and not the ones that come seasoned and in a bag.  I’m buying the real deal – so my kids can see what one actually looks like, and how it differs from a regular potato (as Jamie Oliver says, EDUCATE).  To prepare, I think I’ll slice them up, toss with a little olive oil and roast in the oven.  Chances are my kids will hate them (they usually do) but at least I’ll be educating and exposing them – not only to healthy food, but to hopefully (someday) a new way of life.  One vegetable at a time.

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5 Responses to “Can Your Kids Pass the Test?”

  1. Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » Can Your Kids Pass the Test? | How to Deal With Fussy Eaters Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    […] Can Your Kids Pass the Test? […]

  2. Margot Says:
    February 24th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Hey Zen Mama,

    Check out this website – World’s Healthiest Foods – You can add it to your homepage and every week there is a featured food, with a 5 minute recipe, nutritional information and other interesting factoids. We play a game in our house where someone presents facts about a food and the rest of us have to guess what the food is the person is thinking of. It’s a fun way to introduce us to new foods (sometimes – baked goods are often on the list).

    Also, I know this is nitpicky, but tomatoes are a fruit, and one of the healthiest foods you can eat! A great place to start. Thanks for the info. I’m going to give my girls the test tonight..I’ll let you know how we do.

  3. kim/hormone-colored days Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    This is so interesting. I was talking with a group of moms about the lack of time kids spend outdoors (which I see you also covered). I think you could substitute “outdoor play” for food above and a lthe points about healthy living would still apply.

    Kim
    Chicago Moms Blog
    MomImpact.com

  4. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Kim – You’re so right about that (the outside play). Seems like so many of us (me anyway) grew up being outside so much of the time — so different now-a-days. Then again, my mom had a garden and grew her own swiss chard, etc. so I could actually name most if not all the list above from a very young age. Too bad MY kids can’t say the same!

    Margot – Thanks for the website recommendation. I love the idea of a “food of the week.” (And of course you’re right about tomatoes – though I never think of them that way – somehow they always seem very much a “vegetable” to me!).

  5. callieandbatido Says:
    February 27th, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    You are so right Zen Mamma. One vegetable at a time. I pride myself in not serving to much “junk” but know that much of what I serve as “healthy” are really processed foods. Granted, healthier than a lot that’s out there but not really “whole foods”. I find it a constant struggle to get fruits and veggies into our daily diet. Mine included and I LIKE veggies!

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