Maybe look like a nuisance, but the stickers or labels attached to fruit and some vegetables have more of a function than helping scan the price at the checkout stand.

The PLU code, or price lookup number printed on the sticker, also tells you how the fruit was grown. By reading the PLU code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified GMO's, organically grown or produced traditional with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides.

1. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9”, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified.
 But what exactly it means for something to be organic?

 Organic means that the soil that the product is grown in has been untouched by pesticides, chemically contaminated fertilizers, pesticides and antibiotics. Organic food not only tastes better, but it has been scientifically proven to have healthier benefits inside the body. To learn more about why organic is the way to go, click here. Here are a few of my favorites to always buy organic when possible:
An organic banana would be: 94011
Bell Peppers

2. If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides. The last four letters of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit. An example is that all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011.

Anything starting with a “3” or “4” means that it is grown conventionally. Conventional farming is when chemicals and pesticides are used in different methods to allow for bigger, faster and longer lasting crops. If you are shopping on a budget, here are a few items that are okay to buy conventionally grown:

Sweet Potatoes

3. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8”, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit GMO's or vegetable. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables trump being organic. So, it is impossible to eat organic produce that are grown from genetically modified seeds. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011

If number starting with an “8” means your food has been genetically engineered. Try to stay away from this produce at all costs. GMO's food makes you sterile and develops a lot of diseases like developing cancer, autism and diabetes.

Here is the full list from the Environmental Working Groups of fruits and vegetables with the least to most pesticides. When shopping, the most important produce to buy organic are those at the bottom of this list .


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