Produce Labels

 We live in a world where buying food for our families can be confusing – GMO, BHT, MSG, preservatives, organic, cage free – we almost need a course on how to grocery shop!


Today we’re going to focus on produce.  There are basically three types of produce available:

Genetically Modified – this means scientists altered the DNA of the seed.  They may have crossed two types of types of plants (broccoli and cauliflower, for example).  Or they may have added pesticides directly into the DNA of the plant to make crops more resistant to insects and produce a higher yield.

Conventional – the produce has not been modified, but may have been sprayed (sometimes with 40+) pesticides.  For example 47 pesticide residues were found on apples by the USDA pesticide data program.  Pesticides have been linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility, and are known endocrine disrupters.

Organic – synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers have not been used to treat the crop.  Producers are required to obtain a certification to be labeled as “organic”.  Additionally, organic food cannot be genetically modified.

So, how can you tell if that orange is genetically modified or conventional?  Each fruit has a PLU label, that little sticker that is sometimes a pain to peel off (especially tomatoes!).  Whatever the set of numbers that label starts with will tell you what it is.

5 digit number that starts with an 8 – genetically modified

4 digit number that starts with 3 or 4 – conventional

5 digit number that starts with a – organic



Obviously organic is best.  But buying 100% organic is not feasible for most people.  On my next post I’ll tell you which foods to buy organic and which conventional produce to buy.  Plus, we’ll chat about ways to buy organic produce for less!

Please take a moment to comment below and let me know your thoughts!  Was this information helpful?  Will it change the way you shop for produce?

Thanks for reading and happy shopping!


Tagged: ,

Comments: 2

  1. Victoria Scott June 6, 2014 at 11:20 PM Reply

    Super helpful!! Next post will be too… I always forget the Dirty Dozen!

    • Christi June 7, 2014 at 12:16 AM Reply

      And the Clean 15! Glad you found it helpful, Victoria. Thanks for commenting! – Christi

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

%d bloggers like this: