Season 4, Episode 13

Fruit Or Vegetable?!

Return to Episode: Fruit Or Vegetable?!

Donna Sanders headshot and byline.

Sometimes there is not a cutesy way or shock factor to lead into a Behind-The-Scenes — not every story’s like that and this, my friends, is one of those. The adjectives I will use are beautiful, a bit mind-blowing, and a surprise ending doesn’t hurt either. I know, kind of a strange combination but trust me, you’ll soon understand.

Where The Food Comes From visited the University of Georgia (UGA) Horticulture Research Farm in Watkinsville, GA, just a few minutes off the main campus in Athens, July 13 and it is beautiful. Massive Hibiscus bushes, huge evergreen trees, and so so many beehives made it all picture perfect.

But it was summertime in Georgia. With a heat index of 105 degrees, an open field, and a blistering sun we were in for a hot and sweaty shoot. Not my favorite kind. As the saying goes, “The show must go on!” And it was here we met the Professor of Horticulture and UGA Extension Vegetable Specialist Tim Coolong. I might add he looked as cool as a cucumber.

If you’re not a farmer understanding – ready for this? – plant classification, like what’s a fruit and what’s a vegetable, can be more confusing than you thought. And it is important, though it’s initially hard to understand why. This was the first topic of conversation between Chip and Tim amongst the beautiful Hibiscus bushes.

So how does plant classification work? It’s based on the characteristics or taxonomy of the fruit or vegetable. I really wish I could use a flowchart to attempt to explain this.

Classification starts with the family. In this case the family is determined by flowers or reproductive parts. Not bad so far.

Things are going to get a bit dicier. Next up the word genus. Genus is the second to the lowest level in the classification system and is determined based on looks. They share similar types of fruits, flowers, roots, stems, buds and leaves. Finally, species means being able to breed or exchange genes because of their similar qualities.

Can you tell I am no horticulturist? I am so glad Tim is and he can totally bail me out. Let’s move on to something a little simpler. Our friend the bumble bee.

Like most farms, UGA’s Horticulture Research Farm keeps their own beehives to help with plant pollination. I asked Tim about the hives and found out some interesting information. The research farm has approximately 100 beehives at any given time. But unlike most farms UGA has its own bee lab and bee program. The lab builds and maintains all the hives.

But they do something even better. In 2015, the University of Georgia Bee Program along with the Georgia Beekeepers Association created the Georgia Prison Beekeeping Program.

The goal of the program is to educate inmates regarding the skill of bee keeping. What they have discovered is that prisoners in this program have a 33% less chance of winding up back in jail after their release. They also learn skills that will potentially gain them employment. GO DAWGS!

It was time to leave the beautiful Hibiscus fields and move to the pecan groves. Remember I said the heat index was 105 degrees? Well on our walk back to the pecan groves we found a little hut and went in. It was on the darker side and because of a small built in air conditioner just a little cool. Chip saw that and jumped at the chance to dry the sweat running down his face ruining his makeup. Did I say that out loud?!? Yeah – I think I have a few times. But it still cracks me up. Especially the way he stood on a chair to get his face in front of the window unit. 

We caught up with Tim under the much-needed shade of the pecan trees. As you can see Tim has an assortment of fruits OR vegetables on the tailgate of his truck. Well, he was in a bit of a teasing mood and challenged Chip to guess if each were a fruit or a vegetable. Challenge accepted.

Eggplant Not Included

Why don’t you play along and try to identify each fruit or vegetable before I give you the answer. Trust me, it is not as easy as you would think and all of us where more than a little surprised at the outcome.

Watermelon: Fruit OR Vegetable?

Corn: Fruit OR Vegetable?

Peppers: Fruit OR Vegetable?

Tomatoes: Fruit OR Vegetable?

Onions: Fruit OR Vegetable?

Just Because - Eggplant Fruit OR Vegetable?

By the way the answers are at the bottom of this article. How did you do? Hopefully better than we did. There is a little trick to it. If something has seeds, it’s usually a fruit. 

Well, the sun was at high noon and it was getting hotter. Thank goodness it was time to get back in the cars and go to our next location The University of Georgia! I was super excited. I have watched so much Georgia football that I have kind of developed a relationship with university. Honestly, after seeing it wished I went there. Sorry Cincinnati and for the digression. Fun fact: Per Trip Advisor UGA is one of the most beautiful, well-maintained and landscaped campuses anywhere. But there is always a rival and Notre Dame comes close.

University of Georgia Logo

Chip was so impressed with Tim’s game of fruit OR vegetable that he took the them from the back of Tim’s truck. What was he up to now? He wanted to find students, faculty and anybody else on the grounds of UGA to play the game. The question became where to go and the answer was the on-campus Chick-fil-A. Good choice right?

I knew this was going to be harder than it sounded — after all we had to find people who would want to play. Chip offered to do it, but one of my jobs as Field Producer is to find such people. So off I went.

And hard it was. Let’s face it, when you see a strange woman carrying a clipboard and walking around from one table to another what do you think? Survey, selling something, a religious or political fanatic – who knows? But they couldn’t run away, remember they were eating and nobody’s leaving Chick-fil-A on the table. But amazingly I did get two out of three different groups of people to step outside in the heat and play. Chip found our third.

Up first was beautiful 15-year-old Lily Hufstetler. Lily and her parents were visiting the campus, from somewhere in the Midwest. Her mom was a bit hesitant, but Lily really wanted to do it. Thank you Lily. You were fantastic. 

Our second group consisted of the Clark Family – Robyn, Jacob, and 12-year-old Levi. Ah, but here is the catch that Chip did not know about. Jacob is a farmer. How great is that! He still got a lot of answers wrong, which is not surprising and kind of the point of the episode.

Last up Brian Forschler and his 9-year-old granddaughter Ione. Ironically, Brian is a professor at UGA.

The game was absolutely hysterical and everyone had a total blast. I really can’t tell you how well they did. I was too busy being our Vanna White, handing the fruits OR vegetables to the host of the show. I am so happy you will see it in the episode. 

Lily Hufstetler

The Clark family: Jacob, Robyn, and Levi

The Forchler Family: Brian and Ione

What about the surprise ending I mentioned? A man named Weaver D.

Not being from Athens, GA you may not understand the significance of this. I know I didn’t, but Chip was super excited. Weaver D’s, established in 1986, is a soul-food restaurant located close to UGA. What put this place on the map was in 1992 the band R.E.M. named their eighth album Automatic For The People after a phrase that Weaver D uses to say “you’re welcome.” You will hear a bit more about Weaver D in another Behind-The-Scenes.

Weaver D

Weaver Dexter — he just goes by Weaver D. — has to be one of the most unique men I have met. Lord knows the man is a riot but at the same time emanates such a warm and passionate soul. Being a music writer and musician Chip was super pumped. So much so that we actually put Weaver in another UGA episode we’re bringing you in Season 5 — and don’t be surprised if down the road there’s an entire episode dedicated to Weaver D and his amazing soul food that’s fed generations of UGA students. Knowing Chip, that show will probably be called Automatic For The People — unless of course there are copyright laws that get in the way. But I am sure Chip will find a way.

What About Those Answers?

Three watermelons in a watermelon patch.


Shucked corn in a pot.


Three peppers, green, red, and yellow.


Bundle of tomatoes.


Bundel of onions.


Seven eggplants in a basket.


So How Did You Do?