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ERIC Number: EJ868182
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1538-6619
"Early Sprouts" Establishing Healthy Food Choices for Young Children
Kalich, Karrie A.; Bauer, Dottie; McPartlin, Deirdre
Young Children, v64 n4 p49-55 Jul 2009
The preschool years are a critical period for the development of food preferences and lifelong eating habits. Between the ages of 2 and 5, children become increasingly responsive to external cues, such as television commercials that use popular cartoon characters to advertise foods, candy in supermarket checkout aisles, and fast-food restaurants offering a free toy with the purchase of a kid's meal. These environmental messages influence children's decisions about what and how much they should eat. By the age of 5, most children have lost their innate ability to eat primarily in response to hunger and have learned to prefer calorie-rich foods (high fat and high sugar)--foods often used as a reward or for comfort in American society. Early childhood educators have the opportunity to improve children's food choices because they interact with children daily. Family members and teachers can influence the food preferences of young children by providing healthy food choices, offering multiple opportunities to prepare and eat new foods, and serving as positive role models through their own food choices. Children's gardens provide an ideal setting for nutrition education by allowing children to observe and care for plants and develop a connection to the natural world. Children exposed to homegrown produce tend to prefer those vegetables. This article discusses Early Sprouts, a research-based nutrition and gardening curriculum for the preschool years, which was created by Karrie Kalich and developed in collaboration with the Child Development Center at Keene State College in New Hampshire. The authors designed the curriculum to encourage children's food preferences for six selected vegetables (bell peppers, butternut squash, carrots, green beans, Swiss rainbow chard, and tomatoes) and increase their consumption of these vegetables. The program's scope includes planting raised organic garden beds, sensory and cooking lessons focused on the six vegetables, training and support for classroom teachers, and family involvement. Through the curriculum the authors help children overcome an innate food neophobia ("fear of new foods") through multiple exposures to the six vegetables. Additionally, the Early Sprouts model provides a "seed to table" experience by following the lifespan of the vegetables. The garden features six vegetables that represent a variety of colors and plant parts and are easy to grow in the region (New England), available at farmers' markets, and affordable and available year-round in supermarkets.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. 1313 L Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 22205-4101. Tel: 800-424-2460; Tel: 202-232-8777; Fax: 202-328-2649; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Hampshire