Are You Reading Those PLU Codes?
You’ve probably mumbled a few choice words under your breath when you’ve attempted to peel those little PLU code stickers off of your apple or other items of produce, but have you ever really looked at that sticker and do you know all of the reasons why it’s there? From a super market’s standpoint, those codes, which are typically 4 or 5 digits long, are there to make inventory and check-out faster and more accurate. They basically help the cashier know exactly what you’re purchasing without having to look up your item and type a code (possibly the wrong one) into the cash register.
But these codes can help you make better and healthier purchasing decisions as well. Besides identifying the type of produce and the variety (Fuji apple as opposed to Red Delicious), the code will also tell you how it was grown – ie – organically, or produced with fungicides, herbicides, and other toxic chemical fertilizers.
Here’s the gist of those codes:
Only 4 Numbers
Produce marked with a PLU sticker that contains only 4 numbers means that fruit or vegetable was grown conventionally or traditionally by using pesticides and other chemicals. So, for example, all bananas in this country are labeled as 4011. Because it’s only 4 numbers you know some kind of chemicals were used in the process. (You don’t have to pay attention to the last four letters of a PLU code as that simply signifies the type of fruit or veggie.)
Here’s a tip to wash off those chemicals: simply wash your produce in a solution of 1 cup water, 1 cup white vinegar or cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. You can either spray this solution on your produce or let your fruits and veggies soak in it for a few minutes then rinse off and prepare as usual.
You can check out the this website to see a full list of fruits and vegetables with the least to most pesticides. Also, check out for the dirty dozen.
5 Numbers That Start with a 9
You want to look for these codes because a 5 digit PLU code beginning with a 9 means your fruit or veggie was organically grown and not genetically modified in any way. Yay! These are what we want to put into our body. Using our banana again, an organic banana would have a PLU code of 94011.
5 Numbers That Start with an 8
Theoretically if there are 5 numbers in the code and that code starts with an 8 then this tells you the fruit or vegetable has been genetically modified, and you NEVER want to eat those. So, going back to our banana, a genetically modified banana would have the number 84011.
Now I say theoretically because although a 5 digit code was technically created to identify modified fruits and vegetables, supplying these codes is optional. Yes, you read that correctly. Most of us would avoid these foods if they were labeled correctly so who on earth would the powers that be want to tip us off to the truth?
Here’s what you should know – so far the only real GMO produce in the U.S. are Hawaiian papayas, some corn on the cob and some zucchini and yellow squash. If you buy these and they are NOT organic, you are taking a gamble as to whether they are GMO or not.
As far as other GMO foods that aren’t produce, check out this website which lists GMO and non-GMO brands by category. You can choose to download a copy of the 2 page list, order their pocket guide, or get the ‘ShopNoGMO’ app for your iPhone.
After reading this I hope you will pay more attention in the produce section. Always opt for organic if you can and don’t just trust the signs that say organic – look for that code and make sure there is a 5 digit number that begins with a 9!
We had some great feed back last week about our March Forth blog. Hope you found a G.I. to hug! I am so appreciative and grateful for your inspiring comments, helps keep us on track. A big thanks for being on our journey.
p.s. If you want to become a nutter like me, you’ll want to download the app so you can keep up-to-date on this evil take over of our food supply. Please pay attention and be mindful out there.
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