Hissy Fit - April 2018

What’s Yellow with a Crookneck? Don’t Squash My Intelligence


As I was checking out at the grocery store, the young cashier held up one of my items and asked me what it was. “It’s a yellow squash,” I said. She proceeded to search for the item number so she could ring it up.

“Is it butternut squash,” she asked?

“No. It is yellow squash. It may be under summer squash or crookneck squash,” I replied.

As she continued to peruse the sheet of paper for the item code, it dawned on me she must not eat vegetables—a sign of the times—at least not any form of squash. I understood how this girl could make it to her 20s and not have ever eaten squash, but to never be in an environment to even be able to identify it is beyond pathetic. Am I the only one who ever purchased squash through her register line? Even more puzzling: How does one get through 12 grades of school in America and not know what squash is?

It seems as though the majority of the latest generation has gotten to an adulthood where convenience is more important than health and test scores are more important than general, common sense knowledge. Here is why I say that:

Convenience is a wonderful thing as long as it doesn’t have diminishing returns. There will always be nights that are impossible to juggle everything going on. Your daughter has soccer and your son has tennis, neither at the same time or location. It’s crazy, not to mention the dog is out of food and you would like to fit your weekly yoga class in. A quick trip through the drive-thru at least solves getting everyone fed. Those are times when convenience is exactly that—convenient.

Then there are those nights where everyone is home but you opt for the drive-thru because it’s just easier than having to wash and cut broccoli and steam it for five minutes. This is where the convenience-over-health diminishing returns begin to take effect. Next thing you know, you have picky eaters who won’t eat anything but chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Yes, 3-year-olds telling you what they will and will not eat. Then, not so suddenly, we have 20-somethings who don’t know what squash is. The next time you pull through the drive-thru for no good reason, except that you don’t feel like cooking, consider this nutritional information:

10 piece Chicken McNuggets® (

440 calories  |  27g fat  |  4.5g saturated fat  |  0 trans fat
75mg cholesterol  |  840mg sodium  |  26g carbohydrates
2g fiber  |  0g sugar  |  24g protein  |  2mg vitamin C
15mg calcium

1 1/3 cups of Broccoli (Birds Eye Steamfresh Broccoli Florets)
30 calories  |  0g fat  |  0g saturated fat  |  0 cholesterol
20mg sodium  |  4g carbohydrates  |  2g fiber  |  2g sugar
1g protein  |  30mg vitamin C  |  20mg calcium

If this nutritional information happens to come to mind as you pull in for another night of fast-food, ask yourself if you feel like feeding you and your kids healthy or not. You may suddenly perk up for an easier-than-you-actually-think meal at home for a change. Seriously, that is what it’s all about—putting in the perceived hard work it takes to cook and eat fruits and vegetables. My daughter tells me all the time she LOVES fruit, but it just takes too much time to prepare it. It’s easier to open a bag of chips than to cut an apple. She’s right; it is, but only by about 12 seconds.

I have to praise MacDonald’s for looking into and adopting healthier options. The problem is going to be getting children and parents to change their mindsets and taste buds. Unfortunately, once we get a taste of fat-filled, fried, sugar and carbohydrate-laden foods, our brains like them and don’t want to change. It’s called addiction.

The main reason children these days don’t like vegetables is because parents have not offered them as part of their regular diet. (Dirty little secret: Parents aren’t eating their veggies, either.) My son had a friend who would not eat any vegetables. Hardly any of us like ALL vegetables, but to not find ONE you like is not vegetables’ fault. I asked him once if he had ever tried broccoli, and of course, the answer was no. My kids aren’t the best veggie eaters in the world, but they will eat broccoli, squash, green beans (their favorite), corn, okra, sweet potatoes, raw celery (with peanut butter), Caesar salad and peas. Some beans, as well. You know why they don’t like carrots? Because I don’t like carrots, so I never cooked them. See how that works?

It’s a warped expectation when we want our children to excel and be the best in everything—from grades to sports—yet not give them the nutrition to support it. If nothing else, know this: Nutrition makes a huge difference in how one performs life. There was a poster in my elementary school cafeteria back in the ‘70s that touted: “You are what you eat,” which is truth.

If we really are what we eat, I have to ask, “What are you?” And to take that a step further, “What are your children?” Hopefully, you’ll like your answer. If not, start now to make a change. Eventually, after the initial squabbles and complaints about what’s for dinner, you will see a tremendous, positive, life-changing difference. Everyone will have more energy, less headaches, more smiles and more brainpower. And, chances are, they might even know what a squash is before they reach their 20s.