Getting kids to eat their vegetables has been one of the age-old frustrations of modern parenting. While much has been said about causality – from the enormous advertising budgets poured into junk food to the treat-based negotiation and reward systems many parents implement – little has been done in terms of solutions. Veggie Bots offers one – a set of tools that transform vegetables into building blocks that kids can play with.
Veggie Bots is the brainchild of comedian Lee Bayless, who has filed a number of patents over the past two decades, most famously the Lazy Dude hammock-and-ice-chest combo of the 90s.
What makes Veggie Bots particularly compelling is the notion of introducing playfulness and creativity into something associated with boredom, something kids should do rather than want to do. And while there are certainly exceptions, this perception of vegetables is deeply culturally wired by decades of commercial communication and the general loss of touch with nature that comes with urbanization. A solution would require an equally long-term rewiring of associations and framing and while Veggie Bots is certainly not a holistic one – how about getting kids involved in some hands-on urban gardening or introducing real, engaging nutrition education into education curricula? – it's a promising one: Changing the perceptional relationship kids have with vegetables and, in the process, rewiring this relationship on a cultural level over time.
Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine, Design Observer and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.