Power Peas and Dinosaur Broccoli Trees

Scientists have long appreciated the importance of consistent scientific names for plants. Now they’re beginning to appreciate the power of common names, too — at least over vegetable-averse preschoolers.

Anyone who’s tried to get a preschooler (or any kid, or adult for that matter) to down the recommended five fresh fruits and vegetables a day by resorting to playing airplane, reciting “this little piggy went to market,” bribery, and other choice tactics will certainly appreciate a new Cornell study that was presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association in Washington,  DC. The researchers found that veggies with snazzy names had the little ones begging for more. When 186 four-year-olds were given carrots called “X-ray Vision Carrots,” for example, they ate nearly twice as much as they did on the days when they were offered plain old “carrots.” And the magic spell persisted—the kids continued to eat about 50 percent more even on the days when the carrots were no longer labeled.

Memo to plant breeders and parents: Remember Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Name them so fresh vegetables will not seem so atrocious….

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