April 17, 2011

Identifying organic produce with a PLU

If you're looking to buy organic produce, but get confused when trying to determine where the organic is and where the conventional is, I feel your pain. Let's face it, supermarket signage isn't always perfect. The turnip is where the radish should be and the kale is in swiss chards' spot. And if you don't know what those items I just mentioned actually are, or more likely what to do with them, don't worry. I didn't either until about 1 1/2 years ago...oh, and by the way, they're vegetables. I'll be covering some of these delicious veggie delights in upcoming posts.

Back to the issue at hand...an easy solution to this mess is looking for the simple PLU code located on most of the produce you'll find in the supermarket. PLU codes are 4 or 5 digit numbers that indicate specific parameters associated with that particular produce item. If you can believe it, there's actually a User's Guide related to produce PLU's that's a full twenty-one pages. Amazing. I won't bore you with the many irrelevant details, but here's the important stuff:
  • Conventionally grown: 4-digit PLU number that usually begins with 3 or 4
  • Organically grown: 5-digit PLU number that always begins with 9
Look for produce that starts with #9 and you'll know you're getting clean food that hasn't been sprayed with herbicides or insecticides!


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