Greenhouse Canada

Study finds too few veggies on the dinner table

July 4, 2013  By University of Guelph

July 4, 2013, Guelph, Ont. — A study by the University of Guelph shows
continued challenges in getting Ontarians to eat more vegetables.

July 4, 2013, Guelph, Ont. — A study by the University of Guelph shows continued challenges in getting Ontarians to eat more vegetables.

The study looked at consumer perceptions, purchasing and consumption of vegetables through a series of interviews and a survey.


Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) and the University of Guelph, the three-year project, which includes a field research component currently underway, is intended to help growers and OMAF find ways to boost vegetable consumption.

Co-authors Profs. Sunghwan Yi, Marketing and Consumer Studies (MCS), and Paula Brauer, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, spoke at the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) conference in Ottawa June 10. They also participated in a health summit organized by the CPHA and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association on June 11.


Yi told the conference that only one out of 10 consumers is committed to incorporating vegetables in their family’s diet, according to the survey of 756 food preparers.

Thirty-one per cent choose frozen vegetables, such as french fries, and half of respondents eat vegetables occasionally but not enthusiastically.

The team interviewed 60 main food preparers in southern Ontario households. They found that only a small number of “vegetable-committed moms” willingly cooked unfamiliar produce and often searched for vegetable-rich diets for their families.

Most respondents either cooked vegetables only reluctantly, as their families preferred not to eat them, or used frozen options irregularly.

“It’s not that consumers don’t know that vegetables are good for them; they all know that they should be eating more,” said co-author Prof. Vinay Kanetkar, MCS.

“But we found that many people aren’t aware of how to cook vegetables, and they don’t want to take the time to make something when they aren’t certain that they can make it taste good enough that their families will want to eat it.”


The study arose from research showing that just eight per cent of Canadians eat the recommended amount of vegetables in the Canada Food Guide. A 2009 Statistics Canada study showed vegetable consumption in Canada had fallen during the preceding three years.

Kanetkar said the survey found most people preferred only certain vegetables, such as potatoes and tomatoes, and few liked less common cruciferous produce, such as broccoli and asparagus.

“The main challenge for average buyers is the perception that vegetable dishes are not easy to prepare,” said Yi, lead author of the study.

“People also believe that healthy foods like vegetables are not very tasty. As a result, they don’t buy vegetables.”


Yi said this lack of interest can cause financial problems for government. “Eating vegetables is a good way to stay healthy,” he said.

“When people don’t eat them, they end up needing to access health care more frequently, and this can result in higher costs for treatment.”

The study looks at ways to increase vegetable consumption, including providing samples in supermarkets along with simple recipes.

The team hopes to publish final results in 2014.

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