How can I tell if my produce is conventionally grow, organic or genetically modified produce? What is organic produce? What are the benefits of Organic produce? What is GMO, What is GMO corn? These questions come up quite often in the checkout lines of your local supermarket everyday. The easiest way to tell if the produce you are buying is organic, genetically modified or conventionally grown is to look at the PLU (Price Look-up) code that is on the produce itself. PLU codes are four to five digit numbers that are given to anything that is sold by weight or individually. Don’t get this confused with the “barcode” on packaged produce (i.e. container’s of strawberries, containers of blueberries etc… ) Most commonly you will see this little PLU sticker affixed to fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and herbs. As of 2012 there are approximately 1400 PLU codes in circulation and they range in their assigned numbers from 3000-4999.
What is conventionally grown produce? It will contain a four digit PLU (i.e. 4011 for a conventionally grown banana). Conventionally grown produce is different from organically grown produce in that it may use fertilizers and pesticides (hormones and antibiotics in animal products) to allow higher yields, out of season growth, stronger disease resistance etc… Conventionally grown produce is what you will see a majority of the time when shopping in your local supermarket.
What is Organic Produce? Organic produce is produce that is grown without the aid of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. To be certified “organic” a farmer must meticulously document what they are putting into the soil and onto the vegetation for 3 years. The USDA sends out an inspector to review the documents and inspect the farm. Once a farm has been certified “organic” it is inspected annually often times unannounced. The major benefit of organic produce is the avoidance of eating foods that may be laden with these pesticides or fertilizers (hormones or antibiotics in animal products). Organically grown produce is labeled just like its conventionally grown counterpart, with the same four-digit number. The exception with Organically grown produce is that the four digit number is preceded by the number “9” (i.e. 94011 for an organically grown banana)
What is Genetically Modified Produce? Genetically Modified Produce is produce derived from Genetically Modified Organisms. This GMO produce has specific changes introduced into its DNA by different genetic engineering techniques. This Genetic engineering is different from mutagenesis whereby organisms are exposed to chemicals or radiation in order to create a change. Most often, GMO’s are found in transgenic products such as soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oil. Although now GMO’s are spreading into produce and there is even a push introduce GMO salmon into food chain for human consumption. While the jury is still out on the science behind weather GMO’s are healthy for human consumption, there are many harsh critics behind altering nature’s genes for new strains of food. Genetically Modified produce is labeled with a four-digit number preceded by the number “8” (i.e. 84011 for a Genetically Modified banana).
Brandon Trowbridge, B.S., CSCS is a BeachBody coach and also the http://www.trowfitandhealthy.com website author who has dedicated his career to helping his friends, family and clients achieve their health, fitness, athletic and weight loss goals. He received B.S. in Exercise Science with minor in Nutrition from Arizona State University. His education, knowledge and expertise in this field have helped thousands of people (including professional athletes) lose weight and improve their health, fitness and athletic performance. Please visit his site for more information on his books, blog and newsletter