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Decode the Code

Updated: Apr 19

Have you ever wondered what those numbers on the plastic labels on your fruit and vegetables mean?

They are called PLU (Price Lookup) Codes and they have been used by grocery stores since 1990. But here is the catch, they don’t only tell the cashier what the price is but they also tell a consumer whether the product is organic and conventionally grown. The PLU codes are 4 or 5 -digit numbers and are on every fruit and vegetable.

4 digit codes are used for conventionally grown produce.

5 digit codes are used for organic produce starting with the number 9.

What is conventionally grown produce?

This type of produce has far more chemical pesticides applied to it to fight off pests and weeds as well as provide nutrition for the plant. Could that be why that red delicious apple is so shiny?

It is recommended that you wash conventional produce with a solution of soap and water to prevent you from ingesting pesticides. I personally love to combine doTerra lemon essential oil (therapeutic grade) with water in a spray bottle and I spray my fruit and vegetables after every grocery visit.

What is organic produce?

Organic produce has a different growing method that utilizes composting as a means of nutrition and pest control. Composting is a natural process that included certain foods that decompose to provide fertilizer for plants, fruits, and vegetables.

Next time you venture to the grocery store, take a look at the PLU number and if it starts with a four-digit number you know it’s a conventional fruit or vegetable. If the five-digit number starts with a 9, then it’s an organic fruit or vegetable.

I challenge you to download the Dirty Dozen List to find out which vegetables and fruits are considered good options for you and your family. This list helped me decide which organic produce I should spend extra money on while I was at the grocery store. I decided that I would never purchase a conventional strawberry and grape ever again if I could help it. If the organic option is not available I won’t buy it. I urge you to make the commitment to consciously shop and try new things and redirect your money to better food options.

Happy shopping!


Additional Resources

Article- "Organic and Conventionally Grown Food."

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