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Despite that fact that major American food companies are thriving by offering pizza with hot dogs stuffed in the crust and french fries loaded with pepperoni and cheese, this country really believes vegetables are a good thing. A recent study conducted by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab finds that vegetables on the dinner plate make entrees taste better and home cooks more heroic.

The study consists of two surveys given to a group of 500 American mothers. In the first, the participants were asked to comment on five hypothetical meal scenarios, some featuring vegetables and some without. In the second, they commented on a story of a woman who spends her day working, running errands, preparing a family dinner, and watching TV with her husband. The dinner included a vegetable in only some of the respondents' story. Among the study's findings:

  • "Nearly all mothers believed vegetables made the meal. ... Additionally, respondents generally agreed that the addition of vegetables make the main course taste better."
  • "When the mother was described as having served vegetables, the average percentage who used positive attributes to describe her was significantly higher, and the average percentage using negative attributes was significantly lower."
  • "Given that the significant descriptors (thoughtful and attentive vs. lazy and self-absorbed) are impacted either positively (thoughtful and attentive) or negatively (lazy and self-absorbed) by the addition of frozen green beans to the meal, a connection between being a caring meal preparer and serving vegetables is suggested."
  • "A notable finding is that the four vegetables that most frequently appeared in these favorite meals were broccoli (75.8 percent), green beans (52.9), carrots (39.8), and tomatoes (34.8)."
  • "Most of the vegetables consumed in America — nearly 70 percent — are eaten during the evening meal. Unfortunately, vegetables are served with only 23 percent of all American dinners."

So, it appears that vegetables hold the key to happiness for American mothers at the dinner table. There's no study yet on just how much picky children might disagree.

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