Produce label codes can significantly help you navigate your grocery shopping. I know that you try to eat healthily and make the right choices for your dinner table. You’ve heard of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) and pesticides and the dangers they pose. When you buy fresh produce, you strive for the best and to do your body good. But how do you know (I mean really know) which produce is organic? Well, I’m here to help. Did you know that there is a fruit code? Yes, if you know where to look, you can find a GMO Produce Code, and Conventional Produce Code, and even an Organic Produce Code.

The Produce Label Codes

One good place to start is to look for the USDA Organic seal, but that isn’t always displayed. So, I’m sharing the code to help you know for sure what it is that you’re adding to your cart. Produce always has a numerical code under the barcode scanner. These little numbers (PLU code) hold the answer to this riddle; they are the fruit code and vegetable codes you should be looking for. These codes will help you steer clear of the chemicals and feel confident in your purchasing power. Curious about which fruits and veggies should always be purchased organic? I’ve got that answer for you. I even have my recipe for homemade produce wash to ensure that you reduce your exposure to pesticides, bacteria, and toxins in your kitchen.

GMO Produce Code

A 5-digit produce label code starting with the number 8 means that it is a Genetically Modified Organism a.k.a. GMO (for example 83510). Which also means pesticides (lots of pesticides). It also means that the tomato you are holding is not just all tomato…there’s some other genetic info mixed in, usually so that the plant can stand harsher pesticides = more poison. This added genetic info might not seem like a big deal but think about people with food sensitivities or allergies. Eating foods with unknown modifications & additions could have serious consequences. In the U.S. there is currently no law that forces Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled as such.

Conventional Produce Code

A 4-digit produce label code starting with a 4 means it is ‘conventionally’ grown. (these can also start with a 3 but mostly 4’s are used.) (For example 4931). This was grown with the use of pesticides and chemicals and could be genetically modified. Unfortunately, there are no laws forcing GMO products to show themselves with an 8 PLU code here in the US. So while an 8 absolutely tells you it is GMO, a GMO product does NOT have to label itself with an 8. So a lot of these ‘starting with a 4 or 3’ Conventional Produce Code Fruits and Veggies could also be GMO.

Organic Produce Code

A 5-digit produce label code starting with the number 9 is organically grown produce (for example 95632). This means it is grown without the use of pesticides, and to the standards of the USDA’s organic label. This is your best bet for avoiding chemicals, pesticides, and genetically modified foods. This organic produce code is what I try to go for whenever possible.

My 3 easy tips to help you remember this 

“8 I hate” – For the GMO products that start with the number 8 that you do not want in your body.

“4 is a bore” – For the conventionally grown produce that I’d like to avoid but could settle for. With certain vegetables and fruits, it’s alright to buy conventional if organic isn’t an option for you.

“9 is mine” (Could also go for “9 is Divine”, depending on how fancy you’re feeling). This is the organically grown produce that I want in my cart and on my dinner table.

So there you have it, no more grocery store guessing. You are now armed to shop for your produce fully informed.

Cleaning your Produce

Even with organic produce, it’s important to clean it properly. For one, there can easily be cross-contamination between the conventional and organic stuff. This is my recipe for my DIY produce wash. It is my hope that all this helps to keep your food clean and your family healthy and happy.

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