Finding Purpose: A Zucchini’s Perspective of Hopes and Aspirations in the Brainfood Kitchen

Typically at Brainfood we work with high school students, work that inevitably provides Brainfood staff with a bounty of hilarious and heartwarming stories to share on our blog. But in the lull between summer and fall programming, it seemed like a good time to share another story of growth and development that has happened on-site. What follows is a unique account of the path from seed-to-table by Zelda the Zucchini, born and raised in the Brainfood Youth Garden.

Photo credits to Aimee McLaughlin for the incredible portrait! Thanks Aimee!)

Hello there, my name is Zelda. I am a zucchini. What does being a zucchini mean to me? That’s a good question. I’ve been a zucchini all my life, so it’s hard for me to think outside my glossy green skin. But I will try.


In case you don’t know much about the developmental stages of zucchini growth, I’ll start from the beginning. My mother plant began as a large sleek seed, planted in soil rich with an extensive community of bacteria and fungi that provided my mother plant with all the nutrients she needed to grow deep roots and a strong body. Some busy buzzing bees spread pollen among my mother plant’s large yellow flowers. And then my siblings and I began to grow! A benevolent giant wrapped towels around us as young fruits to protect us from the sharp teeth of hungry squirrels. And eventually our giantess friend carried us in a big red basket to a gleaming, bustling space full of wonderful smells, swirling steam and laughter. It is in the Brainfood kitchen that I gradually learned my awesome destiny.


I’ve got to be honest, those first days spent in the kitchen were filled with uncertainty. Fluorescent lights replaced the bright sunlight that would come straight out of the sky and warm me. The chatter of crows and crickets was replaced with boisterous babble from youthful giants. I didn’t know how I fit in. But I began to understand.


Amidst the overstimulation of my new environment, I had hardly noticed one of my siblings had been plucked off the shelf next to me by one of the young giants. I saw her across the room, sliced in such beautiful uniform rounds, dressed in a citrusy sauce that caught the bits of light in such a way that she gleamed like dewdrops in the rising sun. It seemed like everyone knew their purpose. And I wanted to be a part of it!


I could feel myself aging. My skin was getting wrinkled, and I didn’t want to be relegated to the compost before I had my chance to shine! That’s when I remembered a piece of paper I had seen sitting on the shelf next to me when I first arrived in the kitchen. I’ve never been great at reading, but I think it said, “Mediterranean Barley Salad with Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini” along the top. I figured this might be my last shot at delicious dish glory. I nudged the recipe off the shelf, where it landed next to a pair of hands busy weighing onions for the garden harvest log. An excited exclamation (aha! this will be perfect for our Hungry Hungry Hippie Box!) and ninety minutes later, I was reveling in multigrain salad splendor. Marinated in a rich umami broth, the chewy barley added the perfect textural backdrop to my partially dehydrated dices, and a slightly sweet, zesty dressing abundant in lemon, cumin and cloves complimented the fresh parsley and mint perfectly. I found my place in the Brainfood kitchen, and it felt good.


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