Posted by: babbo | April 24, 2008

Healthy Food Tip #1: Decoding PLU Codes for Better Health

Last week I was listening to Wisconsin Public Radio. There’s a show I enjoy on my drive home called: At Issue with Ben Merens. The featured guest was a man named Jeff Cox, former editor of Organic Gardening magazine. 

I learned some very interesting information about the PLU Codes of produce that I’d like to share. PLU Codes are usually located on the tiny stickers appearing on fruits and veggies. And they hold a wealth of information that is in direct relation to the quality of the food and your health.

There are three types of codes:

1) Five digit codes beginning with the #9 mean the item is organic. No pesticides or chemicals are used in the growing of the product. This is our least toxic option.

2) If the code begins with a #8, that means the product has been genetically modified. This is bad and should be avoided.

3) Any four digit code means that the produce has been grown the traditional, standard way. Pesticides and chemicals are used to grow them. But they’re not genetically modified.

I never had a clue about the PLU (no pun intended), but this info seems very useful in providing our families with healthier foods.

One of the callers, a college student, was concerned about eating healthy. But she was on super-tight budget, so she wanted to know the top 5 foods to buy if she were going to go organic in a small way.

Jeff Cox mentioned the following foods, stating that if we could all eat these five organically grown foods, instead of their non-organic counterparts, we would all be “way ahead of the game.” They are (in no particular order):

1) Beef
2) Milk (GMO Hormones, also known as the Artificial Growth Hormone, increases milk production by 10%. But it is very bad for the cows who are treated with it. Guess what? It’s not good for us either.)
3) Strawberries
4) Apples
5) Bell Peppers

In these times of economic struggle, where the price of gas is quickly approaching $4 per gallon, it might be tempting to overlook the benefits of making organic choices part of our lives. Spending more doesn’t seem feasible. But the thought of making very few, specific changes doesn’t seem so bad. And the thought of providing healthier food for my wife and kids? Priceless.

I hope this helps!

And remember, you are not alone… 

Related posts:
Healthy Food Tip #2: The Perils of Partially Hydrogenated Oils and Other Bad Food Ingredients

Links to more information:
Wikipedia’s PLU Page


Responses

  1. I had no idea about these codes. Thanks for putting this out there so we can learn from it. I just hate that organic products are more expensive. It seems like it should be the other way around.

    Any idea where bananas fall on his list? That’s one fruit that I eat almost every day.

    –TW


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