Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify whether or not there are associations between frequency of eating homegrown produce among rural parents and their preschool children and overall intake. Study Design: A cross-sectional study, including parents (n=1,658) and their preschool children (aged 2 to 5 years) enrolled in a parent education program, in eight rural Southeast Missouri counties was conducted. Main Outcome Measures: Parents completed a telephone interview answering questions for themselves and their preschool child about their fruit and vegetable intake during the past 7 days using a 29-item food frequency questionnaire (82% response rate). Statistical Analysis Performed: Frequency of eating homegrown fruits and vegetables was examined and categorized as almost always/always (n=226), sometimes (n=871), and rarely/never (n=546). Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals, independent sample t tests (two-sided) analyses, and analysis of covariance (with post hoc tests) were conducted. Results: Significant differences were found in the overall fruit and vegetable diets and nutrient quality between all three groups for both parents and their preschool children. Furthermore, frequency of eating homegrown fruits and vegetables promoted a positive home environment with increased availability of produce (rarely/never=4.3 items, sometimes=4.7 items, almost always/always=5.2 items), preschooler's preference for them (rarely/never=3.5 favorites, sometimes=3.7 favorites, almost always/always=4.8 favorites) and parental role modeling (rarely/never=5.3 fruit and vegetable eating observations, sometimes=6.2 fruit and vegetable eating observations, almost always/always=6.3 fruit and vegetable eating observations). Interactions within the larger community food environment were not significantly affected as measured by weekly food dollars spent (rarely/never=$136, sometimes=$117, almost always/always=$137) or eating out the previous month (rarely/never=7.7 times, sometimes=7.2 times, almost always/always=7.0 times). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that educational programs promoting awareness of local produce sources and facilitating the development of gardening programs may be a worthwhile investment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by the National Cancer Institute (grant No. 5 R01 CA68398).