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Hate it or Love it
The Vegetable Dilemma
Author: Adrian Ponce





Many kids choose a double-scoop strawberry ice cream 
cone instead of a healthy carrot. But why is that? Why 
do kids beg until they get some ice cream and turn 
their noses away when they are served vegetables for 
dinner? What I thought was that kids got the idea 
vegetables were bad because they would see on 
television programs that vegetables were bad. The 
characters would always say “EWW,” when the character 
had to eat vegetables.

I asked Tony, a 15 year-old, why kids don’t like 
vegetables. “I think kids don’t like vegetables 
because kids just find them icky,” he said. I also 
asked 6-year-old Max. “I don’t like vegetables because 
they don’t taste like candy or chocolate or other 
stuff I like to eat,” Max said. “They taste all 
vegetably.” Well they are vegetables and they all 
taste vegetably.  

A study done at the Monell Chemical Senses Lab in 
Philadelphia shows that a gene in the body called 
TAS2R38 may create an aversion to bitter tastes. Every 
person carries two or three versions of this gene, but 
one version of this gene is more sensitive to bitter 
tastes than the other genes. If this bitter dominant 
gene is present, people are more likely to not like 
bitter tastes.

“First of all there is some research showing that 
perhaps up to 70% of children are born with genes to 
dislike bitter foods and vegetables are basically 
bitter,” said Shereen Jegtvig, a certified 
nutritionist. “As we grow up, we learn to like the 
taste, however. Secondly, children tend to love sweet 
things and most vegetables aren’t sweet,” she said.  

Jeptvig says that vegetables provide a variety of 
vitamins and minerals plus fiber. Carrots provide 
vitamin A, which we need for healthy vision. Potatoes 
have vitamin C, which we need for a healthy immune 
system and connective tissue. Some vegetables have 
substances like antioxidants that prevent 
diseases. “Broccoli is being studied for prevention of 
cancer, some types of mushrooms can stimulate your 
immune system and carrots have a substance that may 
prevent cancer,” Jeptvig said.  Vegetables also 
provide fiber, which is the part of the food our 
bodies can’t digest.  This helps to keep us regular 
and to keep our digestive systems healthy.

Even so, of the 20 percent of kids who eat vegetables, 
many of them may not get the benefits because 
vegetables are often cooked in the microwave. Research 
shows that microwaving vegetables destroys up to 97% 
of important nutrients like antioxidants, which are 
the healing phytochemicals that are the most important 
reason to be eating vegetables like broccoli in the 
first place.

For those kids wanting to bypass those crunchy green 
things, scientists have now created a juice called 
Kagome that is intended to allow kids to “drink” their 
vegetables. Kagome is full of the daily requirements 
of vegetables and it has no added sugar. From this 
information, you might think this drink is 100% 
healthy, but it is not. If you ask a dietician, they 
will say, “this drink lacks fiber and fiber is one of 
the things that makes vegetables food a healthier 
choice.” A 30-ounce bottle contains about 350 
calories, and it can be used for a healthy drink but 
it can’t be used as a substitute. So as soon as 
possible, parents should try to show kids that 
vegetables are healthy and each one has a good reason 
to be eaten.

I think everybody has heard, “eat your vegetables or 
you’re not leaving the table.” I know I have hundreds 
of times. That was 3 years ago, now I just eat them. 
Kids have always thought of ways to get rid of their 
vegetables without actually eating them. For example, 
the put it in the fake plant, pass it to the person’s 
plate next to them, give it to the dog under the table 
or just put them in a napkin and throw it away while 
nobody was looking. 

The fact of the matter is children and adults are 
supposed to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables every day. 
But it isn’t always easy to make kids eat vegetables. 
Perhaps parents should teach their children about the 
risks of getting cancer or heart disease if they don’t 
eat vegetables regularly. If kids eat vegetables when 
they’re young, they will be healthy when they get 
older.