Saturday, May 1, 2010

Deciphering Produce Codes

I just posted a link to the new list of pesticides in produce. So, how do you know if a fruit or vegetable is organic. There is actually a very easy way to determine that just by looking at it. The price look-up (PLU) code. The PLU code is an international numbering system that identifies each produce item so that cash registers can ring them up automatically.

A 4-digit number indicates CONVENTIONALLY GROWN produce. These products use regular pesticides approved by the FDA, but not necessarily the best thing for you. (That is my opinion).

A 5-digit number beginning with a 9 indicates ORGANIC produce.

A 5-digit number beginning with an 8 indicates GENETICALLY MODIFIED produce. In a nutshell, STAY AWAY from this type of produce. I will go into more detail about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in another post, but basically STAY AWAY.

For example, Pink Lady Apples (one of my favs) have the PLU code 4128. An organic Pink Lady apple would be 94128 (these are the ones I buy). A genetically modified Pink Lady apple would be 84128. Got it? Good.

Why is this important? I have been in stores that have a big sign reading ORGANIC PRODUCE. Then I look at it and it has a 4-digit number. This means it is conventionally grown. Is it harmful to you? Maybe, maybe not. But if your intention is to purchase organic, don't you want to make sure that is what you are buying?

I do. And from knowing these 3 simple rules I can always decipher the code.

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