Many people believe that the stickers on the fruits and vegetables we buy only serve as bar codes for price scanning. However, this code which is known as the PLU code can tell you a lot about the product. Namely, with the help of this code you can find out if the product is organic, genetically modified, whether it was produced with chemical fertilizers etc.
- A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means the produce is probably conventionally grown. The last four letters 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Fruits and Vegetables to Always Buy Organic. These foods have really high pesticide loads and should always be purchased organic.
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
These foods are relatively safe and do not have to be purchased organic if you are on a budget.
- Sweet Corn (not to be confused with potentially GMO canned corn)
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
The EWG also notes that 99 percent of apples, 98 percent of peaches and 97 percent of nectarines all tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, while the average (white) potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce!