Behind-the-Scenes with WTFCF s4, e13: Fruit or Vegetable?

If you’re not a farmer, understanding plant classification, like what’s a fruit and what’s a vegetable, can be more confusing than you thought.

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.


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