Camp Garbology

Share this post

I’m a chaperone on my son’s 3-day, 5th grade outdoor education trip. We’re on a bus heading back from a camp in Santa Cruz. As my head bobs against the cool glass window I’m jarred out of a twilight sleep when the coach lurches and downshifts while descending Route 17. Kids in the front are singing in rounds, boys in the back are being separated for getting too rough. I’m just checking that I haven’t been drooling against the seat when a 5th grade girl in front of me leans around and stares at my flickering eyelids. “Wha-cha-do-in?” she chimes. Before I can answer in more than mumbles she notes: “You have really dark circles under your eyes.”  She takes a bite of apple. She’s eaten it from the top – core and all. “I’m part of the hard-core-apple-club” she beams. “Red Tail showed me how.”


Red Tail was the nature name for the camp counselor who led the garbology exercise. After each meal the kids scraped leftovers onto a scale and weighed them. Then they talked about how what remained affected the energy cycle. Sure I enjoyed Guinea Pig’s acoustic guitar version of the camp song “FBI:  Fungus, Bacteria, Invertebrates” and wiggling with kids while singing the Santa Cruz Banana-Slug song to the tune of “Twist and Shout.” I also really appreciated the cabin rules my student group laid down such as “no using big words” and “absolutely no gambling,” but it was the garbology experiment that really caught my attention.

In three days our group of 60 kids went from producing 9 pounds of leftover food at the end of their meals to 3 pounds. A pretty good change just because they were conscious of it. Taking what you need and not more is a good lesson for kids (and adults). What I really liked about the experiment was that it taught conservation and in my book—whether you’re a business owner looking for efficiencies, a farmer hoping to reduce waste and increase yield, an individual looking to lessen your carbon or energy footprint, or a city looking to reduce waste—conservation is an important lifelong lesson that has only positive implications for everyone. No doubt that good habits start young but we all can create new habits at any age.

If you aren’t yet in the habit of checking out our weekly mixes – give it a try at Please read about fruits and veggies and find recipes in our growing Almanac section. On the west coast I really recommend picking up a Tahoe Gold mandarin from the box; out of the Midwest check out the last of Lehman’s Orchards farm-direct Empire and Jonagold apples, and on the east coast take a taste of the Macoun apples from New York.

Enjoy and be fruitful!Ӭ


Subscribe to the WEEKLY BITE

* indicates required


Recent The FruitLife articles:

Summer fruit varieties and when you’ll be seeing them
July 9, 2019
Beehives, swales, and vermicomposting, oh my!
April 29, 2019
Spring fruit varieties and how to enjoy them
April 16, 2019
A tribute to the “Lemon Lady” of Redwood City
March 11, 2019
The FruitGuys New Year’s poem
January 8, 2019
Sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship
October 31, 2018
Give the delicious gift of farm-fresh fruit and healthy snacks
October 4, 2018
Summer to fall transition brings new fruit into the rotation
October 2, 2018
Bring some fruitful fun to your workplace on Tuesday, October 2
September 27, 2018
Farmer suicide is a public health threat and could hurt our food supply
August 14, 2018

More recent articles:

Assumptions can harm both recruiters and job seekers
July 16, 2019
Simple summer salad dressing recipes
July 11, 2019
Easy summer pasta recipe
July 4, 2019
How to create a dress code that works all year
July 2, 2019
More employers are getting serious about time off
June 27, 2019
Two Easy Recipes for Canning Stone Fruit
June 25, 2019
The health benefits of honeydew melon
June 20, 2019
The delicate flavors of white peaches and nectarines
June 13, 2019
Don’t let plantar fasciitis pain break your stride
June 11, 2019
How to make stone fruit jams and butters
June 6, 2019

About Us

Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.