Have you ever taken the time to read the stickers on the fruit and vegetables you buy? Chances are you probably haven’t, and even if you have noticed them, you probably don’t know what they actually mean.
Those stickers, or Price Lookup (PLU) codes have a bigger significance other than helping cashiers scan the price at the checkout stand. By reading the PLU code, you can learn if your produce was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides or herbicides.
Below is a simple guide on how to read PLU codes so you know what kind of produce you are buying.
- 4-digit PLU codes starting with 3 or 4: produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides.
- I.e (3XXX or 4XXX)
- 5-digit PLU codes starting with 8: produce is a genetically modified, or genetically engineered (GE or GMO).
- I.e (8XXXX)
- 5-digit PLU codes starting with 9: produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified.
- I.e (9XXXX)
It is also not commonly known that the adhesive used to attached the PLU codes is considered food grade - but the stickers themselves are not edible.
Health Tip Takeaways:
Look for products that are USDA certified Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.
Visit your local farmers markets so you can meet your farmers and are ensured the food you are buying is fresh, organic and non-GMO.
Read this list from EWG of fruits and vegetables to find out which has the least to most pesticides. Shop produce that is toward the bottom of the list :-)