MORE than 800 children from different schools in Palma have been taking part over the past academic year in a fruit and vegetable market education project aimed at prompting interest in healthy eating from an early age.

Some 40 groups of both teachers and pupils from 14 different education centres have been comparing the produce and prices at the food sections of Palma's municipal markets.

During each visit, a monitor explains the commercial workings of the fruit and vegetable industry - the consumers, the stall holders, and the Mercapalma wholesalers and their suppliers. Advice was given on food handling hygiene and safety whilst children were interacting with the marketeers.

To mark the end of each visit for the schoolchildren, students at the Balearic Hostelry School which is linked to the Balearic University gave demonstrations of how to carve figures out of fruit and vegetables.

Throughout the year, research was carried out into the habits of nearly 1'800 schoolchildren in relation to their consumption of fruit and vegetables and how much they knew about the food markets.

Results showed that 43 percent of children eat fruit every day, 27 percent three times a week, 26 percent just one or two days a week, and 3 percent never. A quarter of those interviewed had vegetables every day, 28 percent three times a week, 37 percent one or two days a week, and 10 percent never ate vegetables at all.