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What I Learned From a Cartoon Cucumber

Japanese vegetables helped me pick better ones in the U.S.

Illustration of a hanging basket with 3 tomatoes and 3 cucumbers in it, surrounded by plants.
A still from ‘My Neighbor Totoro.’ Credit: Studio Ghibli

hen I was young and lived in the U.S., I really disliked vegetables. I thought they were either bitter, sour, or bland, and compared their consumption to taking medicine. I would always force them down by covering them in ranch, or refusing them unless they were steamed into mush and covered with…