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Eat Clean — Quick Tips for Reading Produce Stickers

It becomes more and more difficult to eat clean these days.  This is not referring to how much dirt is on your produce, but rather the state of the food that we are consuming. This is not a new concept, in fact, it’s more of a retro, “back-to-basics,” lifestyle choice that most Blood Type and GenoType Dieters have been embracing for years.

Clean eating refers to something that is beyond organic and sets a new standard for purity. The clean food movement calls for avoiding foods that contain artificial preservatives, coloring, trans fats, synthetic pesticides, fungicides, ripening agents, fumigants, drug residues and growth hormones. The focus is on grass fed beef, and antibiotic free/free range chicken, wild caught fish, whole grains and fruits and vegetables that are not only grown organically, but picked at eaten at the peak of freshness when flavor and nutrients are at their best. Probably all things you are already doing if you are eating Right for Your Type.

In addition to better health, more people have been turning to clean foods due to the recent breakouts of e coli bacteria in our food supply. From spinach to peanuts to cookie dough, many products have been re-called because of this illness inducing bacteria. Yet others are doing it for environmental reasons or to feel a connection between the land water, air and life.

Clean eating is not complicated or expensive. In fact, it is often cheaper to buy clean foods than pre-packaged, processed foods. It just involves a bit more label reading, kitchen planning and cooking – but your health is worth it.

You’ve noticed that tiny stickers that now appear on almost all fruit, and probably been annoyed that you have to peel each one off. These contain codes for the check-out clerk, but they also contain a secret the store might not want you to know. The numbers on the stickers can tell you how the fruit was grown, and frequently, the country of origin of the fruit. This is helpful to know when you are trying to select organic and non-GMO produce or to avoid fruits grown in countries where the pesticide regulations are somewhat “relaxed.”

Breaking the Code: What the Stickers on Your Fruit Are Telling You

Here’s what to look for:

  1. If there are only four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or “traditionally” with the use of pesticides. The last four letters of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit. An example is that all bananas are labeled with the code of 4011.
  2. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “8”, this tells you that the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. Genetically modified fruits and vegetables trump being organic. So, it is impossible to eat organic produce that are grown from genetically modified seeds. A genetically engineered (GE or GMO) banana would be: 84011
  3. If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with “9”, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be: 94011


Don’t stop here.  The stickers may not tell the whole story.  Empower  yourself by learning which foods are more genetically modified foods, and avoid the biggest offenders.  Shop your local farmers’ markets, and talk to the farmers about their farm maintenance management — don’t assume that because it’s local, it’s clean.  Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and participate in growing your own.  And stay informed.  The legislation around GMO’s and pesticide’s is constantly changing, and you need to stay aware and informed.





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Categories: Diet Tips, Learning, Nutrition, Practical Advice

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