Through the Learn, Grow, Eat & Go! curriculum, teachers, school cafeteria personnel, and volunteers can expose kids to new foods by conducting raw vegetable tastings and recipe demonstrations. These demos and tastings can provide hands-on experiences that encourage students to try new foods. For some students, these tastings or recipes may give them their first experiences with different varieties of vegetables.
Schools have found several ways to offer these opportunities:
* School nutrition and cafeteria personnel lead the tastings and demonstrations for the students to sample and view during class time.
* These personnel include fresh vegetables or recipes as a part of the lunch program.
* The students prepare recipes along with the school personnel.
* The tastings or recipes are prepared during classroom time by trained school volunteers, teachers, Extension volunteers, or Extension nutrition education assistants (all under the direction of an individual
with appropriate food handler certification). The county Extension office can also train teachers, cafeteria workers, and volunteers on the best
methods for conducting tastings. Contact information for your local Extension agent is available at www.jmgkids.us/MyCounty.
Follow these best practices from www.foodsafety.gov for handling raw vegetables:
* Refrigerate perishable fresh vegetables and all produce that has been cut or peeled.
* Wash your hands before preparing fresh produce for the tasting or demonstration.
* Before cooking or eating any produce, wash it under running water, unless it has been bagged and labeled as pre-washed.
* Have the students wash their hands before handling or tasting food.
During the tastings, the students will evaluate the look, smell, sound, texture, and taste of the foods. The evaluation process can help the students avoid automatically dismissing a vegetable or recipe before trying it.
Teachers can encourage students to try new vegetables by:
* Modeling the tasting of raw vegetables
* Modeling the tasting of new recipes
* Encouraging students to avoid saying “yuck” or “ew” during tastings or demonstrations
* Leading classroom discussions on how a food looks, tastes, feels, sounds, and smells. As the students taste more fresh vegetables and
new recipes, their excitement level and willingness to try new foods will grow.