Green Leafy Vegetables

Children and youthCrop productionHealth

Notes to broadcasters

Part A “Green Leafy Vegetables Keep You Healthy”

¬†Part B “Green Leafy Vegetables for Healthy Eyes”

Information on this topic was requested by DCFRN Participants in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Fiji, India, Liberia, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Zambia.

Please read before using the informaiton in this item.

1. The content of this item is related to human nutrition. If it is not relevant in the context of your work, perhaps you could pass it on to someone who is able to use it.

2. Please take care to adapt the information in this item to the local conditions of the people you serve. It would be helpful to give examples of the green leafy vegetables common in your area.

3. To effectively communicate the messages contained in this item, it would be helpful to cooperate with any health or nutrition clinic in your area. The copies of posters at the end of this item may give you or your associates some ideas for creating your own.

4. Although the information in this item comes to you in English, it should be interpreted in the local language that is used in your region so that it will be understood by those to whom it is directed.

Additional Notes:

1. For maximum benefit to your audience, you might consider re-using information from other DCFRN items in association with this one. The information in this item is related to the following:

“More Food From Native Plants” — Package 2, item 9.

“More Vegetables from Your Garden” — Package 3, item 9.

“Protein, a Basic Food and Where it Comes From” — Package 5, Item 2.

“Feeding Different Foods to Your Baby” — Package 6, Item 10.

2. Usually green leafy vegetables are available only during the rainy season, or when gardens can be irrigated. However, because of the importance of eating greens regularly, many people store them by drying them in solar driers. Dried green leafy vegetables can be used throughout the dry season, cooked in soups, sauces, or in other ways.

If anyone would like information on the construction of a solar drier for green leafy vegetables (or other foods), we would be pleased to send it to you upon request.

Also, we would be pleased to hear of simple methods that you know of for preserving green leafy vegetables and recipes for cooking dried greens.


: Jan Tennant

We at this radio station are part of a world-wide information network that gathers farming information from developing countries all over the world. It’s the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency, Massey-Ferguson and the University of Guelph.

Through this Network we bring you information on ways to help people stay healthy. Today, let’s talk about a very special kind of food that many people who are strong and helthy eat every day. Here’s Jan Tennant.

Part A
“Green Leafy Vegetables Keep You Healthy”

Just because a perosn eats a lot of food doesn’t mean that they’ll stay healthy. No. To stay healthy we must eat the right kinds of food.

Vegetables of all types are good for us to eat. They keep us healthy and strong. Tomatoes, yams, beans, cabbage, potatoes, cassava, vegetables like that, are all good for you.

But did you know that the green leaves of many vegetables are a very special food? The green leaves of some trees are also good. When we eat them, they help our bodies grow strong and they keep us healthy. Yes, they make us strong and healthy, and they give us energy, too.

Most children who eat plenty of green leafy vegetables have beautiful, clear and healthy eyes. Many children who don’t get enough of these greens to eat lose their eyesight. They become blind.

So, if we and our children want to stay healthy and have healthy eyes, we must eat lots of green leafy vegetables and feed them to our children — every day if we can.

Some people grow vegetables with good green leaves in gardens close to their homes. Some people know about wild plants with green leaves that are good to eat.

Not all green leaves are good to eat, of course. Some are bitter and taste bad. Some will even make you sick because they are poisonous. But the green leaves of many, many plants are good to eat.

If you don’t know which green leaves are a good, healthy food, maybe your neighbours know. Or you could ask at a health centre. Many older people know the wild plants with leaves that are good to eat.

We should all know some of the green leafy vegetables that are good to eat – and we should eat them often – every day if we can.

Remember, people who eat lots of green leafy vegetables are healthier and stronger. They have more energy, too. Children who don’t eat enough green leafy vegetables may begin to have trouble with their eyes, they may not be able to see well, and then they could even go blind.

Green leafy vegetables are good for you and your family to eat. Eat them every day if you can.

Serving “Agriculture, the Basic Industry”, this is Jan Tennant.

Part B
“Green Leafy Vegetables for Healthy Eyes”

Did you know that children who don’t eat enough of the right kind of food can easily become blind?

Well, not long ago, on the island of Tarawa in the South Pacific, many children were beginning to go blind. They were beginning to have trouble seeing in the early morning and the evenings, when there wasn’t good light. This is one of the first signs of blindness. It’s called night blindness.

The reason they were becoming blind was because they were not eating enough of certain kinds of food. The foods they needed were those that had something special in them that some people call vitamin A. This special vitamin is also called the “eyesight vitamin” because people need it to keep their eyes healthy.

It’s important to know what kinds of food have the eyesight vitamin in them because you can’t really see this vitamin, or taste it, or smell it. The eyesight vitamin is right inside the food — it’s part of it.

One kind of food that has lots of the eyesight vitamin in it is green leafy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are good for the eyes. Children who eat lots of green leafy vegetables get lots of the eyesight vitamin. These children don’t have trouble seeing in dim light.

But as I said before, on the island of Tarawa the children were beginning to go blind. Their night blindness was the first sign of trouble. If they didn’t soon start to eat lots of the eyesight vitamin their eyes would become dry and damaged and they would be completely blind — they would never see again.

Luckily, someone knew that these children’s eyes would be all right again if they ate lots of food with the eyesight vitamin in it, and there was a tree that grew on the island whose leaves were rich in this vitamin.

For many days the green leaves from this tree were fed to these children, mixed in with the other food they ate. This gave them lots of the special eyesight vitamin. And this was just what they needed. Aften ten days the children could see normally once again. They ate those special leaves, but if they had eaten green leafy vegetables they would also have been able to see normally once again.

One of the best ways to keep our children’s eyes healthy is to be sure that they eat green leafy vegetables often — every day if possible.

There are some other foods that contain the eyesight vitamin too. Among them are mangoes, carrots and other yellow fruits and vegetables and palm oil; also milk, eggs and liver. So they’re good for your children, too. Green leafy vegetables are just as good though, and can be grown easily in the home gardens; also the green leaves of many wild plants are good to eat, and contain the eyesight vitamin.

Babies and children who are nursing get plenty of the eyesight vitamin in breastmilk from their mothers. It’s when they stop nursing and begin to eat solid foods that you must be sure that they get enough of the eyesight vitamin. This is when you should begin to feed them green leafy vegetables.

* Remember, children who don’t eat enough of the eyesight vitamin can quickly become blind.

* If a child has trouble seeing in dim light then he or she probably has night blindness.

* Nightblindness is a warning that the child needs food with the eyesight vitamin in it – and lots of it, right away! If he doesn’t get it soon, then he could quickly become blind and never be able to see.

Don’t let your children go blind. Feed them lots of green leafy vegetables.

Serving “Agriculture, the Basic Industry”, this is Jan Tennant.

Information sources

1. Tropical Leaf Vegetables in Human Nutrition, by H.A.P.C. Oomen and G.J.H. Grubben, Communication 69, Department of Agricultural Research, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, Amsterdam, Netherlands (1978).

2. The BBC Topical Tapes series “Hello Tomorrow”, tape 25/84. Transcripts are available form BBC Topical Tapes, P.O. Box 76, Bush House Strand, London, WC2B 4PH, United Kingdom.

3. “Good Food, Good Health, Good Eyes”, transcript (illustrated) of a World Neighbors filmstrip, and “World Neighbors in Action: Green Leafy Plants”, Volume 11, Number 4E. These are available from World Neighbors, 5116 North Portland Avenue, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, U.S.A.

4. “Sunshine or Darkness”, by Jim McDowell in UNICEF NEWS, Issue 90/1976/4, available form Unicef Headquarters, United Nations, New York, New York 10017, U.S.A.