What’s the difference between these apples?
These apples have different labels. Do you know why? What do the codes mean? Have you ever noticed them? The bar codes have 4 and 5 digit numbers. These numbers are called PLU codes (price look up). Did you know these PLU codes can tell you how your produce was grown?
A 5 digit code starting with 9 means your apple is organic. A good way to remember this is to think that organic produce is 9 times healthier. A 4 digit code starting with 3 or 4 means your apple was conventionally grown.
In the future these numbers will be added as well. For example 83000-83999 will designate conventionally grown produce and 84000-84999 will be organically grown items. For more information you can refer to the ifps global website.
Why eat organic? Isn’t it just more expensive? Why is it so much more expensive? Organic produce more accurately reflects the true cost of growing the food. The following all contribute to higher prices for consumers:
- Substituting labor
- Intensive management
- Crop rotation
- Environmental and health costs for chemicals
Farmers who grow conventional produce are subsidized for faster production. Organic produce grows more slowly because chemicals and growth hormones are not added.
How about these apples?
Eating organic produce minimizes our exposure to toxic chemicals found in pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs. All of these have been found to contribute to obesity and disease. Organic produce also contains more nutrients.
Living in Southern California it is very easy and fairly inexpensive to find organic produce. But what if you live elsewhere and organic produce is not as readily available?
There are a few things you can do. First, buy locally. Second, eat what’s in season. Transportation, exposure to artificial light and air and temperature all have an effect on nutrient and vitamin loss. One of my favorite ways to buy fresh local produce is at farmer’s markets. Find your nearest farmers market through Local Harvest. Another great way to get fresh organic produce is through a delivery service such as Farm Fresh to You or Green Chef.
Most importantly, how do you know which fruits and vegetables are the most heavily laden with pesticides, herbicides and may be GMO?
The Environmental Working Group compiles a list every year of most and least important fruits and vegetables to eat organically. The dirty dozen and clean fifteen can be seen here. Check it out and let me know what you think. Is eating organic important to you? Will you look at the dirty dozen list the next time you go shopping?
Down to Earth
The Daily Meal
Organic Farming Research Foundation
The Environmental Working Group
International Federation for Produce Standards
Farm Fresh to You
Carol Coyne says
Great post! Thank you for explaining the number labeling system Wendra…this has always confused me but now I understand it (without being overwhelmed).
Thanks Carol! Glad I was able to clarify.
Juan Carlos says
OMG! I never had this explain to me in such a simple manor. Now I know what is best for my health. Thank you and I look forward to your future articles.
Thanks Juan! Happy this explanation helped you!