Most of us don’t know that the stickers attached to the fruits and vegetables, are there for more than just scanning the price.
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.
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 labeled with the code of 4-0-1-1.
A five-digit code that starts with a "8", means the product is genetically modified.
The label on genetically modified tomato would contain the number 8-4-8-0-5.
A five-digit code that starts with a "9", means the product is organic. Organic bananas are labeled as 9-4-0-1-1.
EWG, the Environmental Working Group, analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FDA, to come up with rankings for these popular fresh produce items.
The EWG notes that 99% of apples, 98% of peaches, and 97% 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!
The following foods have very high pesticide loads, and should always be purchased organic, or grow yourself!
Apples, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes, Hot Peppers, Nectarines, Peaches, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet Bell Peppers, Kale or Collard Greens, and 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.
Asparagus, Avocados, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Non-GMO Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Mangoes, Mushrooms, Onions, Non-GMO Papayas, Pineapples, Sweet Peas and Sweet Potatoes.
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.
Therefore, please consume organic or conventional grown or self-grown fruits and vegetables.