How Could Vegetables Be the New “It” Food and Still Be Largely Ignored?

The big trend in food:  vegetables.

Yes, vegetables are the new meat, declares New York Magazine.

At serious restaurants all over town, carrots, peas, and the like are no longer just the supporting cast—they’re the stars. Move over locavores, here come the vegivores…a term that connotes fervid vegetable love rather than ardent meat hate. It’s a subtle but important distinction.  For the vegivore, a vegetable can occupy the center of the plate, with meat adding flavor or functioning as a condiment.


The cover of November’s Food & Wine exclaims “Vegetables: the next big trend.”  Vegetables are featured in the magazine’s Trendspotting column that highlights the growing number of vegetable-centric restaurants, including upscale eateries that have embraced Meatless Mondays such as Dovetail in New York City and Nage Bistro in Washington, DC.

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La Tartine Gourmande on flickr.com

Famed chef Mario Batali has been a major champion of Meatless Monday and a visible vegetable supporter.   He introduced the world to a “vegetable butcher” at his Italian mega-market Eataly and has plans to write a vegetarian cookbook.

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Eataly in NYC by Sam 86 on flickr.com

Certainly the vegetable movement got a major boost with the groundbreaking of the White House garden.  Now we’ve seen the Iron Chef’s  first vegetarian competition and Sotheby’s held its first heirloom-vegetable auction.

Indeed, vegetables have become devotional objects.  But why do so many people not eat them…or certainly not enough of them.

CARROT STILL LIFE

Sidious sid on flickr.com

Just this week a new report released by the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance reveals how bad the situation really is.  Only 6% of individuals in this country meet daily recommendations  for vegetables.  Teenage and adult vegetable consumption even went down over the past 5 years.  The report gives both groups a grade of F.  Children under age 6 aren’t doing much better.  Vegetable consumption grew 3%; yet despite this small increase, 92% of children fail to eat enough vegetables.

Yes, that’s alarming.  It’s even more alarming when you think about the health implications of a veggie-poor diet.  The new report estimates that the economic cost of not eating vegetables is about $56 million — attributed to the health care cost of treating diet-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Maybe making vegetables trendy will help adults eat more. But what’s the solution for raising veggie-loving kids?  How do we get a new generation excited about vegetables?

I think one way NOT to do it is to hide or sneak them in.

What are your tips for helping your kids like their veggies?  I’ll do a follow-up post featuring your advice.

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14 Comments

  • I agree that sneaking in the veggies is not the answer. Although I don’t have kids yet, I think getting the kids involved in the kitchen at as early an age as possible helps them to try new foods and embrace vegetables and fruits. Kids can wash veggies, tear lettuce leaves for a salad, mash ingredients, and as they get older they can help slice vegetables too. They’ll be more interested in trying what they helped make because they feel they took part in it.

  • I believe so strongly in empowering and educating children about vegetables by giving them an opportunity to share their opinion of new foods and personalizing how veggies will strengthen their bodies. I call this method “Veggiecation” Just this week we took this concept and made it available not only to schools but to smaller communities and individual homes as well. I invite you to check it out and let me know what you think. http://www.veggiecation.com/program-materials/program-packages

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  • Mary Lynn Farivari

    There are several ways to help get kids to eat their vegetables and fruits. One is cut them in pieces that are able to pick up and eat with their hands. If your kids are dippers try humus (which is made from garbanzo beans – another vegetable). Next time you have a pizza let the kids decorate it with vegetables into a smiley face for example. Let the kids have a few vegetables to chose such as broccoli, pepper strips, tomato slices, artichoke hearts and defrosted frozen spinach. They may suprise you and try something new. While they are making this why not grab a piece of broccoli from their bowl. Let them see you get excited about eating vegetables, also make sure you say a positve comment about how good the vegetable tastes.

  • LBC

    My mother insists that there were never any major vegetable battles at our house. There were vegetables we didn’t like–I will never touch frozen peas or Veg-All again, as long as I live–but we didn’t reject vegetables wholesale.

    There weren’t any options: You were served vegetables and you ate them. Mom might ask us if we wanted broccoli or green beans, but “neither” wasn’t one of the choices. There was no expectation that vegetables didn’t taste good; Mom and Dad ate them in piles. And there was no bribing. We almost never had desserts, anyway, but there was certainly no promise of sweets if we ate our vegetables, so we didn’t have the mindset that the two are opposites.

    I actually loved Brussels sprouts because I thought they were cute. It never occurred to me that I might not like them because I thought they were fun to eat.

  • Parents who LOVE vegetables, (in general) raise children who LOVE vegetables. By this I mean that an example of true enjoyment will be followed by your child. There is no way to fake it, so don’t try to “sell” a veggie that you are ambivalent toward (or detest).

    Children love crunch and finger foods, so raw vegetables make great snacks. Variety in shapes and colors are appealing to children, but beware of too much mixing: peas and carrots vs a mush of leftovers.

    The advice from LBC is right on target, respect the individuality of each child. Discover what they enjoy and WHY they dislike a particular one.

  • Joy

    My comments echo those of LBC’s. Growing up (in the 70’s and 80’s) we helped plant, raise, weed, and process our huge family garden (because we were poor country kids), and never complained about eating veggies that we put so much work into. As kids my mom would let both my brother and me go to the chest freezer or cellar and each choose a vegetable to serve with dinner, so having MORE than one type of vegetable at meals became commonplace. Sure, there were some vegetables that were not my favorite (and I knew that if I complained, I got dished up an extra helping), but NOT having a vegetable with meals was just unthinkable.
    I realize that not all kids have an opportunity like I did to know my food so intimately. But this is a place to start.

  • Thanks. I am always looking for ways to better grow or better prepare the food from my garden. Eating healthier has really helped me keep my waistline in check.

  • Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  • Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  • This is especially alarming when the news is replete with information about how eating vegetables both lengthens our lives as well as protects us from death from disease – one of the new kids on the promotional block is beta carotene – researches observed after following 15,000 for 14 years that having high levels of beta carotene could mean up to a 39% increase in prevention of a wide variety of diseases and conditions that lead to death.

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  • Paul

    Great post! i really loved vegetables all the time..Thanks a lot..

    zerona san antonio tx

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