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Growing Future Gardeners?


Exposure to growing vegetables related to higher intake

Over the past decade or so, elementary school gardening programs have been on the rise and for good reason – they’ve been credited with increasing fruit and vegetable intake among school aged children! Today about one in four public elementary schools has one. The question remains, will these eating habits continue through adolescent and college years and beyond?

This study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, took a closer look at how past gardening experience may play a role in the food choices of over 1,100 college freshman from eight different U.S. universities. Participating students were asked a series of questions about their fruit and vegetable intake and gardening activities both currently and during childhood. Eleven percent of students reported gardening as a child, 19% reported only gardening within the last year, 20% reported both while the other half of students denied ever having gardened.

Results showed that the students who gardened through both childhood and through 8th grade consumed about 25% more fruits and vegetables compared to students who never gardened.  Significantly higher! In the March DNN, we learned that nutrition knowledge has limited effects on food choices in the university population, but the hands-on gardening experience can really make a difference in food choices in this impressionable population.

As Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” and with results like these we believe it’ll be a healthier tomorrow too. This year Dole is a proud sponsor of three new school gardens near our research facility in Kannapolis, NC.

Published June 1, 2018

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