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JoAnne Green

Vegetables Can Make You Look Like a Hero, and a Better Cook

Smart preparation and presentation of a vegetable entree not only enhances enjoyment of a meal – it also boosts a diner’s perception of the person who prepared it, according to Cornell University researchers.

“Simply put, vegetables make people feel more positive about the main course and the cook who prepared it,” said Brian Wansink, professor of marketing at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and lead author of the study, “How vegetables make the meal: their hedonic and heroic impact on perceptions of the meal and of the preparer.” The study is posted online in the current issue of the journal Public Health Nutrition.

According to Wansink and his co-authors, Cornell researchers Mitsuru Shimizu and Adam Brumberg, “More vegetables are likely to be served with a meal if preparers know that the addition of vegetables makes them appear to be both a better cook and a better person.”

This appeal presents a potential nutritional benefit in the U.S., where vegetables are served in only 23 percent of evening meals.

“While they certainly contribute to making the meal healthier, vegetables can contribute in other ways,” Wansink said. “For example, knowing how and why parents and their children perceive vegetables as contributing to the enjoyment of the meal – other than simply for their nutritional value – could hold a key to increasing vegetable intake.”

With widespread recommendations to increase vegetable consumption among Americans, and in particular among children, any tool that can increase servings is welcome, the authors note. “So if you want to be a hero in your own kitchen, just add veggies to your meals and enjoy the nutritional and emotional benefits they will provide.”

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