The annual bonanza/surfeit/ridiculous overproduction (your choice) of the typical home gardener’s zucchini patch has begun. Zucchini bread, zucchini pudding, zucchini fritters: green squash is coming out of our ears.
I have laughed at the many silly ways proposed for getting rid of the cylindrical veggie, such as the one in which a gardener leaves a basket of zukes on a neighbor’s porch, rings the doorbell, and runs like hell.
On the other hand, I always got a sick feeling at the former local Zucchini Festival where, at one booth, fair-goers catapulted hundreds of the green squashes at a target — for fun.
Now, in a few weeks, thousands of people will make their way from the four corners of the globe to Spain to fight in this year’s “World’s Biggest Food Fight.” At the annual Tomatina tomato festival held in Bunel, participants hurl one hundred metric tons of tomatoes at one another. For fun.
And, modeled after La Tomatina — in seven cities in our own country, from Boston to Seattle, Dallas to Miami — is the Tomato Battle. At this also-annual event, “soldiers” don bathing suits, safety goggles, and shoes to immerse themselves in piles of overripe tomatoes and “set about pelting people with fruits like sentient apple trees avenging the initial-carving of amorous teenagers.”
According to Feeding America’s most recently published report, over 49 million Americans live in food insecure households, almost 16 million children. The organization’s network of 58,000 — 58,000! — food banks, parties, and meal service programs provides service to 46.5 million people in every community across the U.S.
Yet, people throw food at each other for fun.
Many of the people served by Feeding America live in what are known as “food deserts,” defined as a part of the country lacking access to “fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods.” In other words, no grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or other healthy food providers.
And — surprise, surprise — food deserts are usually found in impoverished areas.
Battle organizers claim that the Tomato Battle is “an efficient and entertaining use of non-edible waste.”
Efficient? Non-edible? Has nobody figured out a way to process these fruits into soup, juice, or sauce to feed the hungry?