Making vegetables more appealing
As a child, I was always told to 'eat my greens'. These were the unappealing vegetables that sat on the edge of my plate. Peas, broccoli and green beans, all looked and tasted disgusting. Let's face it, when there were so many other edible treats to enjoy, why eat boring veg?
Since then my taste buds have developed and I'm also fully aware of the health benefits of eating fresh vegetables. But we still need reminding of the amazing goodness these green superfoods give us. In the UK, a campaign based on advice from the World Health Organization has been running for several years to encourage us to eat our '5 A Day' - five portions of fruit and vegetables. That's because evidence has shown there are significant health benefits to getting at least five 80g portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
But I struggle trying to fit these five portions into my daily diet, partly because I have a sweet tooth and vegetables are, well, tasteless. Researchers have been looking at how to make eating vegetables more attractive. They analysed the psychology behind our food choices and found that most of us are motivated by taste. Brad Turnwald from Stanford University says that "studies show that people tend to think of healthier options as less tasty for some reason."
His team carried out an experiment in the university cafeteria where they gave vegetables seductive names and found sales increased by 25 per cent. They got rid of healthy labels such as 'wholesome' and gave identical dishes names like 'sizzlin' beans', 'dynamite beets' and 'twisted citrus-glazed carrots'. It seems that these indulgent names tempted diners to fill their plates. Brad Turnwald says that "labels really can influence our sensory experience, affecting how tasty and filling we think food will be."
In Europe, a project called VeggieEAT has also been trying to find ways to get people to eat more veg. Project leader, Professor Heather Hartwell believes in "health by stealth", subtly nudging people into eating the right things. One idea has been to put a picture of a tasty looking fruit on a supermarket trolley as a hint about buying something from the fruit aisle. She says, "Choice is a really complex thing. But this study suggests that giving vegetables an indulgent tag can help raise their hierarchy."
Certainly, eating 'twisted citrus-glazed carrots' does sound tempting, even if it just tastes like a carrot, but if it makes us eat more vegetables then that can only be a good thing for our health.
5 A Day'