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Brighter veggies could lead to brighter futures

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Brighter veggies could lead to brighter futures Brighter veggies could lead to brighter futures

Vegetable shaming. We’ve all seen it. Whether it was on television, or directly in front of our eyes. The shoving of those extra peas under our mashed potatoes. The laser stare at the spinach, expecting it to crawl off the plate. Every family, it would seem, has their featured picky eater.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, four out of five children do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. They go on to say that parents often find it difficult to get their children interested in eating fruits and vegetables. So what could be the key to making vegetables more appealing to children?

Kelly Koss, a student at the University of Maine pursuing a master's degree in food science and human nutrition, may have the answer. She wants to know if children would eat more vegetables if they were more vibrant and colorful.

“I have always been interested in childhood nutrition, and my thesis advisor, Dr. Camire, came up with the idea of testing children's liking of different colored vegetables,” Koss said. “Many people are unaware that there are multiple colors available of the same vegetable, but you can find purple and yellow carrots, purple, orange and green cauliflower, and purple potatoes at farmers' markets and in some grocery stores.”

Koss is conducting a study over February break, from the 17th through the 21st. She is seeking 100 children who are 8 to 10 years old to participate in the study. Children who take part will be asked to sample different vegetables that vary in color. Cooked potatoes, for example, will be sampled in white and purple. They will also be asked to sample raw cauliflower and carrots that vary in shades. Volunteers will also be asked a few questions after the study.

Koss says that all of the vegetables are grown naturally, and that none of them have been artificially colored.

After the study, Koss says that they will analyze the results to see if children are more willing to try the more novel colored vegetables.

“The results may provide useful information for parents, educators, or anyone working to encourage healthy eating habits for kids,” Koss said.

The study will be held on the UMaine campus in the Consumer Testing Center in Hitchner Hall. It will take around 50 minutes, and volunteers who complete the study will earn $10. Children who are allergic to cooked potatoes, raw cauliflower, raw carrots, dairy, eggs or ranch dressing are not permitted to participate. If you are interested in the study, or would like more information, you can contact Koss by calling (207) 581-1733 or emailing  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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