Is Your Produce Genetically Modified?

These apples have PLU stickers with the number...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever stopped to wonder what those stickers on all the fruits and veggies you buy mean?
Until recently I assumed it was the simply a PLU (product look up number) so the cashier can quickly scan the produce.

Turns out there’s a whole lot more info in those tiny little stickers. And understanding what to look for can mean the difference between healthy organic fruits and veggies and genetically modified junk! Here’s what you need to know about

  1. What is it?
    While most of us can tell an apple from an orange, identifying the variety of fruit or vegetable in your hands can be a little trickier.  With nearly 2,000 varities out there it’s sometimes helpful to know you’re holding a Fuji Apple versus a Pink Lady.  The sticker will often list the variety of fruit or vegetable so you don’t have to guess.
  2. Where is your food from? 
    The sticker will usually tell you where the produce is from. If the produce is Canadian or American it will list the country or the province/state. If from outside North America it will simply list the country. Knowing where your food is from not only helps you support local agriculture but helps you pick from fresher options when produce is in season.
  3. How is your food grown? 
    How your produce is grown is displayed right on the sticker as well.  The 4 or 5 digit code will tell you if the food you’re about to eat is grown conventionally (i.e. with chemicals or fertilizers) organically, or genetically modified (how did this make it past the FDA anyway).  Here’s how to read the label:
    • 4 – digits codes: ranging from 3000 to 4961, represent your average run-of-the-mill conventionally grown food.  These are not organic or have not been certified organic (some small farms may not have the capacity or capital to get certified but may in fact grown chemical and pesticide free food)
    • 5 – digit codes beginning with 9:  This sequence is reserved for organically grown produce.  For example a banana may carry PLU4011, whereas an organically grown banana of the same variety would be labelled PLU 94011. Where ever possible, this is what I look for when filling my grocery basket
    • 5 – digit codes beginning with 8:  This sequence represent food that has been genetically modified or genetically engineered.  In other words, it’s a lab experiment.  I avoid these at pretty much all costs.

If you’re interested in what PLU stands for which fruits and veggies there’s a handy resource at www.plucodes.com.

If you’d rather take back control of the fruits and veggies you eat may we be so bold as to suggest growing your own? Our backyard harvest is sticker free.

Was this post helpful? Will it help you the next time you go to the market?

Eat drink and be merry.

The At Home Organic

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www.athomeorganicfarms.com

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Hey, just found this page from reddit. It is not blog post I would regularly read, but I liked your spin on it. Thank you for making a piece worth reading!

    Reply

  2. Excellent post – been having a hard time finding organic versions of many of the fruits I regularly consume and have simply not been buying them for fear of getting a genetically modified version. The 9- vs. 8- bit on the PLU was something I did not know but which I found extremely valuable.

    Thanks!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Lindsay Hawk on June 21, 2013 at 18:21

    Very helpful 🙂 I have always wondered about the codes on fruits and vegetables. I avoid GMO at all costs!!!
    Thank You!

    Reply

  4. That is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very accurate info… Manny thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

    Reply

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