What is TastEd?
Helping Children to Love New Foods (and Talk About Them Too).
What do we do?
We offer teachers support, training and resources to deliver a range of simple taste education lessons tailored to U.K. curriculum. In a typical TastEd lesson – which requires no kitchen or fancy equipment to teach – a teacher brings fresh vegetables or fruits into the classroom. The children talk and write about what they see, smell, touch, hear and taste and whether they enjoy it or not.
TastEd lessons are based on the Sapere method, which has been used with great success in many European countries for decades. Taste education is food education pared down to its simplest form, but the impact on the way children relate to food can be huge.
What is TastEd’s Aim?
We’re a charity aiming to revolutionise the way Food Education is taught in the UK, so that taste education becomes a basic aspect of every child’s knowledge. Just as children are taught how to read and write, they need to learn the ‘food literacy’ that will help them become more confident, adventurous and healthy eaters.
Why is TastEd Needed?
We are living through an unprecedented crisis in child health across the world, largely caused by the food that children eat. One in five U.K. children arrive at school aged four already overweight or obese and by the time they move to secondary school, it’s one in three. Child tooth decay is also on the rise, with 45 000 British children admitted to hospital to have teeth extracted in 2017-8.
This crisis has many causes. Fresh vegetables and other nutritious foods can be expensive and many households do not have adequate cooking facilities. Meanwhile, we live in a world flooded with aggressively marketed sugary foods, whereas fresh home-made foods do not feature in ad campaigns.
A Child Who Enjoys Vegetables Will Eat More of Them
One of the reasons that children don’t tend to eat many vegetables is simply that they don’t like them. Many children do not enjoy vegetables and refuse to eat them even when they are available.
Yet it’s perfectly possible for children to learn to love vegetables.
This is where TastEd can help. As every parent knows, it isn’t always easy to get children to enjoy vegetables. Over the years we’ve cajoled, we’ve offered reward charts, we’ve talked about 5-a-day – all to no avail. The average U.K. child eats just over one portion of vegetables a day. In many cases, the problem is that children just don’t know vegetables very well. It’s not unusual to meet British 11 year-olds who never tried a raw tomato or 8 year-olds who can’t recognise an onion when they see one.
“It’s an amazing way to teach literacy because the children are so engaged and they produce great descriptions”
Reception teacher, St Matthew’s School Cambridge
How Can TastEd Help?
- We provide a full programme that is designed to give children the opportunity to experience a range of vegetables and fruits in a fun, no-pressure environment.
- A course of TastEd lessons equips children with the skills they need for developing a taste for healthy foods as well as the confidence to talk about their own preferences.
- We offer lessons that are tailored to the UK National Curriculum. As well as covering the core primary D & T requirements for food, our lessons can engage children with English, History, Science and more.
- Schools report that our lessons can help children become more adventurous eaters when eating their school lunches.
- TastEd is a tool for teachers that requires very few resources or specialist knowledge to teach, making the lessons easy for any teacher to run.
Does it Work?
Evidence from Finland suggests that children who have received taste education are more likely to taste and enjoy new vegetables, fruits and berries.
Over time, we know that positive exposure to fruit and vegetables leads to children becoming more willing to try a range of healthy foods. But it can be a struggle for parents to give children this positive exposure at home, especially with children who are ‘picky eaters’. In TastEd lessons, surrounded by their friends and teachers, children will often surprise themselves by trying and enjoying foods they never imagined they could like.