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Making kitchen a classroom for kids

September 3, 2009 |  9:14 am

Gardening500 In the movie "Ratatouille," the terrifying food critic, Anton Ego, transforms into a lovable human with one glorious taste of a Provençal tian, or casserole, from his childhood — zucchini, eggplant, tomato, thyme and cheese.

Good food, Ego discovers, excites our taste buds and our hearts.

For most American children, the equivalent taste memory will be grease-soaked chicken nuggets and French fries. New York-based registered dietitian Elisa Zied understands this. Her own childhood memories are connected to fast food as a treat — including her grandmother sneaking Whoppers with cheese to Zied while she was at sleep-away camp.

"You have to teach children from very early on to enjoy healthy food," says Zied, who changed her own eating habits as an adult and has written several books about healthy eating for families. "Changing a culture is not an easy thing to do."

But due in part to an alarming increase in childhood obesity, diabetes and other junk-food-related illnesses, healthy food movements targeting kids are sprouting all over the United States. From kids’ cooking classes to angry mothers demanding healthier food in cafeterias to vegetable gardens at schools, more people are looking to improve their families’ eating habits. Read more here:

Photo credit: Ariel Skelley / PR Newswire