95% of the elementary kids in our program gleefully taste new
fruits and vegetables! They tell us it’s one of their favorite
parts of our program.
What’s the secret to our success?! Parents
and caregivers, this one is for you!
Over the years, we have perfected a tried-and-true model that
works every time. It’s been proprietary–until now. With COVID
affecting the health of so many of us, it’s more important than
ever to protect our health by eating well. We want everyone to
have access to our model, because it works!
Starting today, we will share 1 tip per day from our
proprietary Broccoli Boundaries & Radish
Routines methodology. Follow us on social media
(Facebook & Instagram) to learn more and try these
at home with your kids.
These are a set of rules meant to create an environment where
kids can succeed at eating their veggies. It’s important to build
this healthy space, because when you’re trying to change a
child’s behavior, you have to start by changing knowledge and
attitude first. Knowledge is easy. It’s the attitude that causes
so many hurdles! Once we set up an environment to change our
children’s mindset (and our own!), the road to eating veggies is
Once we’ve created a healthy environment for successful veggie
eating, we must repeat healthy behaviors over and over again
until they become habits. That’s where our Radish Routines come
in. Keep practicing these until they stick!
Want your child to be a Food Adventurer? Want them to get excited
to try new foods? We ask all our staff and volunteers to start
with this Broccoli Boundary: Check your diet at the door.
In our schools, we work with children who don’t have enough food
at home. We don’t want to shame anyone for the foods they eat.
This work isn’t about vegans or keto or any of that. It’s about
adding healthy, tasty fruits and veggies to kids’ lives. These
are foods kids don’t get enough of–in fact, only 4% of kids are
protecting their health by eating enough of them.
Most kids have an automatic response to new foods: “Eww! Gross!”
It’s up to us to create a healthy boundary to set kids up for
success. Our rule at Food Literacy Center: “Don’t Yuck My Yum!”
We’re trying to change kids’ attitudes towards new, healthy
foods. We tell them that something they don’t like may be their
friend’s very favorite thing. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s
Children are exposed to 4,000 food-related ads every year, nearly
all of them for “kids” products high in sugar, fat, and salt.
Meanwhile, a study in Scotland found that in 30% of households,
kids are getting separate meals from the adults. What if we just
eliminate the idea that kids have their own foods?
It’s time to stop hiding vegetables. It sends a message to our
kids that vegetables are the worst. We must hide them, because
having them out in plain sight is offensive. Who could bear to
eat their spinach without grinding it to oblivion and hiding it
behind bananas? Adults love to “trick” their kids into eating
their vegetables, which tells kids that vegetables are a cruel
joke being played on them rather than a delicious favor being
bestowed upon them.
When we cook with new foods, kids aren’t always ready for every
new ingredient in the recipe. That’s okay. At Food Literacy
Center, most of our recipes are made to taste great even if one
or two items are omitted. However, we’re trying to get kids to
explore and taste before they form an opinion about what they do
or don’t like. So, it’s important for kids to make the whole
Practice makes perfect! This simple mantra is easy to repeat and
helps kids develop the habit of eating healthy. It’s hard to
measure how many servings of vegetables are in a soup, or to
track what your child ate all day. Did they eat two servings? Two
cups? How can you keep up?
If you aren’t in the habit of eating vegetables (and only four
percent of American children are!), the thought of dining on
daikon for dinner might make a child quiver. So, we’re going to
take baby steps to get there. Rather than starting with a brown
rice and kale salad, our program starts simply with a peanut
While Radish Routine #2,
Positive Affirmation, tenderly targets the start of a child’s
food journey, Produce of the Day seeks to knock their socks off
with new, wild exploration. At Food Literacy Center, we use these
approaches simultaneously. While the recipes in our curriculum
are gradually building from familiar to daring, our Produce of
the Day jumps straight to the bold end of the line. The stakes
are smaller with Produce of the Day, because it’s a tasting
program, rather than a whole meal or snack.
We live in food paradise! Sacramento, California has a
four-season growing year, so we’re spoiled with freshly harvested
produce year-round. We believe that eating seasonally, as often
as possible, changes people’s experiences with food.
Have you ever eaten a tomato in the middle of winter? You know
the ones—they’re more orange than red and they bounce without
cracking. They also lack flavor. But what about eating a tomato
in summer? They burst with juices, and their aroma intoxicates.
Which tomato would you rather eat?
By now, you might have picked up on a uniting thread to our
approach: kids choose! When possible, we let them pick the
Produce of the Day. We build
Broccoli Boundaries to prevent kids from yucking someone else’s yum, but
we don’t take away their choice to refuse a taste. If children
have a negative experience with a food, they’re less likely to
ever give it another try. So, let them choose.
Some kids are stubborn. Despite your cheerleading and positive
affirmation, they might just be in a bad mushroom mood. When all
else fails, try offering rewards for healthy behaviors. At Food
Literacy Center, we discovered that few kids can resist a
sticker. It’s a rare child who will turn down the offer of an
exchange for a bite of beetroot.
Studies show that kids are more likely to eat a meal that they’ve
helped cook. So, get them engaged in the kitchen. Our recipe
instructions provide specific directions for kids and cooking demo videos with step by step instructions.
We also have a video of our favorite kitchen
tools for kids and we show you how each one is used!
Kids are great imitators, so give them something great to
imitate! When kids see their parents eating healthy, they are
more likely to eat healthy, too. If you want to protect your
child’s health, you need to make a lifelong commitment to eat
your veggies. Do it for the kids!