How can I tell if a fruit or vegetable is organic, or has GMOs?

A woman asked me this as she gazed at my bag of pears a couple of weeks ago.

You can tell by looking at the PLU or Product Look-Up code on that sticker with the Kung-fu grip.  Look for a 4 digit number beginning with the number 3 or 4 if the variety was grown conventionally, and the same number with a 9 in front of it if the variety was grown organically.  For example, the PLU code for a banana is 4011, and an organic one is 94011.

Because it’s voluntary, you never really see it, but if the code begins with an 8, it means it’s genetically modified.  Organically-grown produce cannot be genetically modified so if the prospect of GMOs in your food keeps you up at night, go organic.

Those absurdly sticky stickers are good for another thing: Spotting the country where the produce was grown.  If the produce was grown half a world away, it’s an indication that you are eating something that is out of season in your part of the world.  On the other hand, if you are consuming something that came from closer to home, you will likely pay less for it, and it will likely taste better too, because it will have been picked closer to being ripe.

Now go peel off the stupid things and get eating!

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One response to “How can I tell if a fruit or vegetable is organic, or has GMOs?

  1. Steven Rosenberg

    So it can be genetically modified and still have a 3 or 4 code? Nice …

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