3 Reasons Why You Should Learn to Read Produce Labels


My health journey has been interested to say the least. The more I learn, the more it feels like you have to belong to a secret society to learn how interpret complicated labels.

Why can’t you buy food with an understanding that it will not contain toxic chemicals that will cause disease. Unfortunately the food industry doesn’t follow the same logic. As consumers we can not trust labels that proclaim that foods are safe. We cannot simply take a company at its word. We need to look past the descriptions and focus on the ingredient lists. If a product has complicated chemical ingredients you can assume that it contains toxic artificial ingredients.

As for fruit and vegetables, I assumed that we were at the mercy of the display description in the grocery store. Up until recently I thought that there was no way to tell if produce was GMO, and/or pesticide free. I was shocked to learn that the little tiny labels on fruits and vegetables that have a numerical bar code that describes whether it organic, genetically modified organisms (GMO), or contains heavy pesticides.

This code is referred to as a Product Look Up (PLU code). It contains a 4-5 digit number and barcode. Once scanned at checkout it reveals the price. However, this number has a deeper meaning. We as consumers can use this code to evaluate the quality of the fruit or vegetable before we buy.

However, we can not always rely on this strategy. In the US, it is not mandatory that food supplier discloses whether fruits and vegetables contain GMO. Technically they are not held accountable to any federal mandate that requires them to be truthful.

This is highly disturbing. As consumers we must educate ourselves about this relatively secret strategy and use PLU codes to buy organic when possible.

3 Things You Need to Know to  Interpret the PLU Codes Before You Buy:

  1. A 5 digit code that begins with a 9 means it is Organic

    If an item is organic you can expect for it to cost more. Farmers must go through a very rigorous and expensive process to have there produce certified as organic.

  2. A 4 digit code that begins with a 3 or 4 means it was conventionally grown.

    Products that are conventionally grown may or may not have be treated with with pesticides. We need to learn to work with nature to help reduce any problems with infestation without using pesticides that are toxic to ourselves and the environment.

  3. A 5 digit code that begins with an 8 contains GMO.

    Avoid all produce codes that begin with an 8. GMO has increasingly been used in more produce to selectively reduce insect infestation. Technically it sounds like a good idea but little is known about the long term health effects.

    God created the heavens and the earth. He also provided us with all that we needed to survive. I believe that each and every creation is perfect as is. Whenever we play God we risk our health as well as the health of the environment.

Leave and comment and let me know if you were aware of PLU codes. If so how and when did you learn about it?

This Article Has 1 Comment
  1. Iris says:

    Wow, I knew the 9 in front of the code meant organic, but I honestly thought it was just for pricing and never really thought further than that. I use those codes often at the grocery store to print labels so the checkout process will be faster…I even know some codes by heart. I will definitely be on the lookout for the leading 8!

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