Not long ago, the grocery store where I shop reconfigured the produce department and messed with the feng shui of the area. There is no flow. The new layout is more difficult to navigate resulting in many more shopping cart jams.
Recently, while waiting for one of these now regular cart jams to unjam itself so I could get on with my shopping, I pondered the plight of the zucchini. Most of the vegetables in this store’s produce area are displayed in bins and can be purchased individually. But not the poor zucchini, they are shrink wrapped to a styrofoam tray in groups of three or more. This is also the fate of yellow summer squash.
This is not the case with their cousins, winter squash. When in season, the acorn, butternut and spaghetti squashes are displayed in bins and may be purchased individually. So why are the zucchini treated like this?
Do they not play well with others of their kind? Would they try to get into bins with potatoes? Is this why they are in their styrofoam and shrink wrapped prison cells? Do they gaze through the plastic at the onions across the aisle and yearn to be free?
My inner liberal activist was starting to stir. The last time that happened was 1976. I was studying for a poli-sci exam and reached for a Tootsie Pop. Now I had consumed many Tootsie Pops in my life, but never gave much thought to the paper wrapper. For some reason, probably to avoid studying, I found myself staring at the wrapper and becoming a wee bit agitated.
Tootsie-Pop wrappers have always featured renderings of children at play. Way back in 1976, the drawings were a bit sexist. All the boys were depicted playing baseball or climbing trees or running a race while the girls stood on the sidelines holding a doll or sat on the ground playing jacks. I knew something had to be done.
I penned a letter to the Tootsie Roll Company complaining about the subliminal messages the Tootsie Pop wrappers were sending to girls. I said the wrappers should show girls riding bikes or playing baseball. I told them I would no longer buy their products until this was changed and I would encourage my friends not to buy their products.
A couple of weeks later, I received a reply from the Tootsie Roll Company. They stated that they had recently redesigned the wrapper to show girls being more active and would begin using it soon. They included a proof of the new design. (I was secretly hoping I would also get a bag of Tootsie Pops, but that didn’t happen.) The new design may have already been in the works, but I like to think I was part of that change.
Galvanized by the memory of that triumph, I decided to organize a protest on behalf of the poor zucchini. I figured I could make a few signs out of 3×5 cards and popsicle sticks and stick them in the bins of potatoes and peppers. The signs would have catchy slogans: Zucchini Are Veggies Too and Free The Zucchini.
Now, you might think this is all a bit silly. Perhaps you’re thinking I should just speak to the produce manager and ask him to display the zucchini in bulk bins so they could be purchased individually. You would be right, and that’s what a normal person might do. However, as an unemployed person, I have all kinds of time for silly.
I had a plan and index cards, I just needed popsicle sticks. This required another trip to the grocery store for popsicles or some other frozen concoction on a stick. I opted for fudgesicles because they’re chocolaty and contain calcium so they’re practically health food.
So now the fudgesicles have been consumed. Not all at once, of course, it took a few hours. The signs have been made. All that is left is to carry out the plan.
We strike at dawn!
Well, maybe not at dawn exactly, I’m not usually up that early. And I’m pretty sure the store doesn’t open until 7, though I’m not usually up then either. Unemployment does have its perks.
Will the protest be a success? Will the zucchini gain their freedom? How long will I have to stay on the treadmill to burn off those fudgesicle calories? All of these questions will be answered in an upcoming post, well, at least two of the questions will be answered. I don’t even want to think about the calorie thing.