It’s getting more and more difficult to eat healthy as convenience replaces good nutrition as a priority for many Americans, with families opting for fast food instead of a home-cooked meal several nights a week. In addition, grocery shopping isn’t what it used to be, and what you thought was good for you, might not be. That’s why, if you see one certain label on your fruit, you need to put it back right away.
With the onslaught of genetically modified foods, it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying, because the long-term consequences could be serious. While most people don’t pay much attention to the stickers attached to produce, they can provide more information to the consumer than you might think. The PLU code, or the price lookup number on the sticker, can help you determine if the product you’re interested in is genetically modified, organic, or produced with chemical fertilizers.
GrazeMe had three excellent tips for deciphering these codes:
1. 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.
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.
While it’s best to buy organic foods that haven’t been dangerously modified, the added cost means that’s simply out of the question for many people. However, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) analyzed pesticide residue testing data in order to provide a ranking of popularly-consumed fruits and vegetables that you should try to buy organic if at all possible.
Here are the “Dirty Dozen,” or the twelve fruits and vegetables which are most important to buy organic, due to the high risk of consuming pesticides that are otherwise used to grow them:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
According to the EWG, 99 percent of apples, 98 percent of peaches, and 97 percent of nectarines all test positive for at least one pesticide, but the foods listed below are relatively safe if you are on a budget and cannot buy them organically grown:
- Sweet Corn (not to be confused with potentially GMO canned corn)
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
Healthy eating habits are a major commitment. Buying organic groceries is more expensive, and preparing meals at home takes some extra time that you might otherwise be able to save by eating fast food. However, the extra effort it takes to eat healthy pays off massively in the long run. It’s definitely worth the added time and money. Don’t forget to SHARE this information if you found it helpful!