Produce by the Numbers

Produce by the Numbers

Are you tuned in to how your produce is grown? Here are some quick, easy-to-remember tips on how to tell if your produce is organic or has been altered. 


Remember these quick tips on your next shopping trip:

1. Four numbers on the PLU code means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally”.

  • "Traditional" growth means with the use of pesticides. An example would be a banana labeled 4011. Some feel that fruits with tougher peels like bananas and oranges  may not be as susceptible to in regards to pesticides since we do not normally consume the peels. 

2. Five numbers on the PLU & the number starts with “8” tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable.

  • Genetically modified fruits and vegetables have been tampered with in an unnatural way; essentially, produce that has been genetically modified was created in a lab or over decades of artificial selection, and cannot be found in nature. This can include many varieties of commonly eaten fruits such as apples and grapes. Ex: sticker reads 84011

3.  Five numbers in the PLU code & the number starts with “9” means that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. 

  • An organic banana would be: 94011. These produce items fall under the standards created by the FDA for organic foods. You can read more about USDA Organic Guidelines here

You can afford to eat more organic foods and keep the budget under wraps.

Organic produce can cost more so many people will stick to buying only "The Dirty Dozen" in organic form. These 12 foods require higher levels of pesticides to flourish and includes:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
You can start with buying just a few or all  these 12 items in organic form. Also be sure to wash all of your produce before eating, this can eliminate many pesticides and reduce the risk of contamination from food-borne diseases such as e.coli and listeria.