Did you ever wonder — possibly about your own kids — how and why two children in the same family were so different from one another?

But there is no disputing the facts.

In the fresh produce family, cabbage is the bespectacled younger brother to the sassy teen clementine.

Strawberry is the precocious 8-year old and rutabaga is the socially awkward preteen. Blueberry is headed off to Princeton to study law and celery is headed to community college with undefined plans.

Yes, fruits and vegetables are in the same family, but they run with different sets of friends. Rather, fruits have lots of friends and vegetables seem to stay at home with mom and dad.

This perception must be changed, correct? In the interest of family fairness, we can’t have one sibling be the favorite and the other overlooked. Not in our happy fresh produce family.

But a recent Centers for Disease Control study found that fresh fruit consumption is increasing among children, while vegetable intake is largely unchanged.

According to a study tracking consumption of 2 year old to 18 year old children from 2003 to 2010, whole fruit consumption increased 12% per year, while there was no change in vegetable consumption over the seven year study period.

The authors of the CDC study suggested that schools and early care and education providers can help increase fruit and vegetable intake by:

  • meeting or exceeding nutrition standards for meals and snacks;
  • serving fruits and vegetables whenever food is offered;
  • training staff members to make fruits and vegetables more appealing and ready to eat, and:
  • providing nutrition education and hands-on learning opportunities such as growing and preparing fruits and vegetables.


Still, the answers are always framed fruits “and” vegetables, as if both will respond the same way. That clearly isn’t the case. In the family setting, the Honeycrisp complains: “I’m not the one who needs to see the counselor; cauliflower can go but I’m not going!”

If we were to focus on just increasing the profile of vegetables, what would we do?

Is the answer a heavier lean on character marketing, such as using Sesame Street personalities to “sell” kids on the veggies? Perhaps that will help.

One recent study  published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that spelling out the health message to preschoolers is the last thing marketers may want to do.

The study, called “If It’s Useful and You Know It, Do You Eat? Preschoolers Refrain from Instrumental Food” states that trying to pitch “good for you” messages at preschoolers makes them suspect the food isn’t tasty. While it doesn’t hurt for adults to know that a certain commodity packs a powerful nutrient punch, children under the age of five have already started to see through the ways parents cajole them about food choices.

Better to say nothing about nutrition then try to convince Johnny that carrots will help you see better.

We love our kids the same, but vegetables need help. Where to start?