Celia Dubin

reports on






My "Grotesque" Zucchini


The following piece was written when Celia's English teacher, Mr. Altshuler, made a comment to her as she walked into class carrying a zucchini she had just purchased at our garden's farm stand. When Mr. Altshuler felt that the zucchini was "grotesque" and not safe to eat, Celia felt complelled to write the following piece for an English class assignment.

Dictionary.com says this about zucchinis: “zuc·chi·ni (z-kn) n. pl. zucchini or zuc·chi·nis: A variety of squash having an elongated shape and a smooth, thin, dark green rind,” with “courgette” being it’s synonym. My zucchini comes from John F. Kennedy high school’s garden, “theEnchanted Garden.” People have asked typical questions to me about my zucchini and the other fruits of the “Enchanted Garden.”. Such questions are about, pollution, steroids, pesticides and insecticides, mutations, health of a big zucchini and if the taste differs. You are now going to learn a little about the Enchanted garden and about my Zucchini that I brought from the Garden’s fundraiser.

Does the size affect the health of the zucchini? If you don’t harvest a zucchini on time, it just keeps on growing until winter comes. The Garden Club picked the zucchinis late and it kept on growing until it was picked. A bigger vegetable is a bigger vegetable that doesn’t change anything else. The zucchini is a little over ripe. People everywhere always eat over ripe fruits. It isn’t strange to eat an overripe peach, apple, banana, tomato etc., so why should it be any different to eat an overripe zucchini?

Jerome Hamer with one of our large zuchinnis

“Some people are afraid to eat food from our garden. How can our food be safe with all the air pollution in our city? What about the soil? We can't speak for the air, but the soil in our lot has been tested twice, and both times was not found to contain any significant levels of toxins… We grow our vegetables above the general soil, and use soil that has been shipped from Long Island, which we know is clean, healthy, and safe. This is a sandy soil that drains well, and works well with most of our vegetables.” http://thomania.org/gardensite/education/student_work/webpage_abdus.html

Does the pollution effect the garden’s vegetables? The air pollution might be bad because a school is being built next to the school and garden, but those effects the vegetables only a little! Plants barely breathe oxygen. They need and breathe carbon dioxide during the day when photosynthesis occurs. If there is enough oxygen for humans to breathe, (there are children going to school there, so there must be enough,) the plants have enough oxygen to breathe in during the night when the plant’s respiration takes place. The dust that gets on the vegetables could be easily washed off so that part doesn’t effect the plants either.

Ms. Ruiz shares her zuchinni with Roland Rogers of Wave Hill

Is my zucchini mutated? Everything has mutations. If there were no mutations then everything would be the same and people wouldn’t be here. We are just mutations of simpler organisms. A few types of human mutations are eye color, hair color, skin complexion, etc. A few plant mutations are the different types of plants, the sizes, the color, the shape, etc. I accept that my zucchini may have a mutation or a few mutations, but that is correct for anything. It doesn’t change the fact that it is a zucchini with all the properties of a regular zucchini. The size of this zucchini isn’t a mutation.

Does the Enchanted Garden add any steroids, pesticides or insecticides? The keepers of the Enchanted Garden, (the students of JFK”s Environmental Club, and the teacher, Mr. Thoman,) try to keep the garden as natural as they could, and they only use organic stuff. They don’t want the steroids, pesticides and insecticides to get into the soil and affect the rest of the garden as well as the fruit. They only use miracle growth, that just helps the vegetables grow.

I really like the taste. My father cooked a piece of the zucchini on the stove, (the whole thing cannot fit in one pot.) He put some cheese with it and it was soft and delicious. I took out the seeds and I put them in a napkin to dry. If you ever made pumpkin seeds, you could make zucchini seeds. They will taste basically the same because both fruits are squashes. I like pumpkin seeds and I will like zucchini seeds. Zucchinis are usually described as “hard and seedy,” when big. You just have to know how to cook it.

In conclusion, my zucchini is healthy and there is nothing wrong with it. My English teacher thinks that my zucchini is “grotesque.” The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Basic English describes grotesque as “very strange and unexpected: Fantastic.” People who say a zucchini that is about 20in by 5in is grotesque just aren’t used to seeing fruit that is big. All over the world there is fruit that is strange. If people think that the fruit of the Enchanted Garden is unhealthy and that they won’t eat it, they probably shouldn’t eat any fruits or vegetables, especially store-brought. Where did the store purchase their fruits and vegetables? For all anyone knows, the farm in which the food was grown could have been in the middle of a landfill. Most farms use pesticides, insecticides, steroids and whatever else that might effect the health of the environment and vegetables.


This web page was completed by Celia Dubin on September 30, 2002

All photos, with noted exceptions, were taken by Anthony Thoman with a digital camera.

This is a student Web page. Opinions expressed on this page shall not be attributed to the New York City Board of Education or the student's school.