April 20, 2009

Children are willing to try produce

Children in rural parts of the lower Mississippi Delta are willing to try fruits and vegetables, but those foods are often in short supply, researchers say.

Dr. Beverly McCabe-Sellers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service in Little Rock, Ark., said resh fruit and vegetables are often in short supply in the Mississippi Delta, where gas stations and convenience stores are the primary sources to buy food and where tending family gardens has given way to long work commutes by parents.

Using data from a five-week summer day camp in Marvell, Ark., the researchers looked specifically at the willingness to try fruits and vegetables of 84 African-American children, ages 5-12.

McCabe-Sellers and colleagues had been told repeatedly by parents that children would not try unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.

The usual camp snack of potato chips or cookies was replaced by foods such as raw carrots, celery with dip, broccoli, apricots, honey melon, mandarin oranges and plums.

More than half of the children tried at least 75 percent of the 16 different fruits and vegetables offered, the study found.

The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2009 meeting in New Orleans.