Did you know that you can learn a great deal about your produce simply by looking at the PLU code? Let us be your guide!
The PLU code, or the price lookup number on the sticker can help you determine if the product is genetically modified, organic or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides or herbicides.
1. A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means the produce is probably conventionally grown. The last digits of the code represent the kind of the fruit or vegetable you are buying. For example, bananas are always labeled with the code of 4011.
2. If there are five numbers, and the first is “8″, then the product is genetically modified. The label on genetically modified banana (GE-genetically engineered of GMO) would contain the numbers 84011.
3. A five-digit number that starts with a 9 means the item is organic. Organic bananas are labeled with 94011.
EWG ( The Environmental Working Group) analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with rankings for these popular fresh produce items.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns that the consumption of pesticides can lead to health problems such as “birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.” Children are especially at risk of harm from pesticides.
The Dirty Dozen
These foods have very high pesticide loads and should always be purchased organic or grown yourself!
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
The following foods were found by EWG to be relatively low in pesticide residue. They may be good conventional options for those on a budget.
- Sweet Corn*
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
* Beware of GMO varieties, especially for corn and papaya
Many thanks to Real Farmacy for the heads-up!
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