When did zucchini become the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables?
Let’s face it: Those long green squash get no respect.
Bryn Bird of Bird’s Haven Farms in Granville surveyed the piles of zucchini on her farm’s
display at a recent New Albany Farmers Market and added her enthusiastic support to the theory.
“It’s definitely unpopular,” she said.
Bird has seen the downcast faces of her farm-share customers when they open their produce boxes
to find zucchini.
“I think people think it’s bland,” she said.
Even restaurants don’t want it, said Bird, noting how zucchini is the least-expensive item on
the farm’s list of wholesale produce yet still doesn’t sell.
“I’ll get their order forms back for everything but zucchini,” she said.
Making matters worse is her farm’s bumper crop of zucchini this year — so large that Bird’s
Haven recently donated 1,200 pounds to a food pantry.
The fact that zucchini plants are so prolific is another reason that the squash becomes the butt
Thanks to the high jinks of Tom and Ruth Roy of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Aug. 8 is now known as “
Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.”
The Roys started making up holidays and submitting them to “Chase’s Calendar of Events,” the
annual compendium that tracks special events, holidays, festivals and civic and holiday
Zucchini day became popular with gardeners, who often try to pawn the squash off on unsuspecting
Judy Hogan, who helps organize the zucchini contests at the Obetz Zucchini Festival, burst into
laughter when asked why zucchini don’t get the same respect as other vegetables.
“No, they don’t. They absolutely do not,” she agreed between chuckles. “Because they’re silly,
and (there are) so many of them. We have them everywhere, and we get tired of them by the end of
Hogan, manager of the village community center, leads the crew that bakes about 1,500 loaves of
zucchini bread to sell at the annual festival, which will take place Aug. 25-28.
She also helps run the contests, which include the popular dress-up-a-zucchini competition. Past
entries have included a Hawaiian zucchini, dressed for a luau; one painted like a goose; and one
dressed as an Ohio State University football player, complete with a little helmet.
Once, when someone donated a zucchini to Hogan’s baking effort that was too large for cooking,
the folks at the community center dressed it in a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and turned
it into a table centerpiece, Hogan recalled, laughing some more.
No one would put a cowboy hat on an heirloom tomato.
Stacey Boumis, community-services director for Obetz, agreed that zucchini might not be as easy
to promote as a tomato or a strawberry.
“Some people are uncertain about the taste,” she said.
What zucchini lacks in appeal, Boumis emphasized, it makes up for in versatility.
Zucchini can be used in sweet or savory dishes, she said. Festival vendors have used it in
dishes as different as fritters and ice cream.
To help convert her farm-share customers into zucchini lovers, Bird has begun including recipes
for the squash in their produce boxes.
Zucchini can be made into chips, similar to the popular kale chips; sliced into circles, it can
serve as a healthy alternative to pizza crust, she said.
Its myriad uses include salads; casseroles; frittatas; sautes; stir-frys; and, of course,
zucchini bread, cakes and muffins.
When all else fails, Bird said, she reminds customers that zucchini goes really well with