Have you noticed the annoying stickers that seem to be on every piece of produce you buy in the supermarket? It is called a PLU sticker and stands for Price Look-Up.

The bar code on the sticker is used at the check out counter to scan the item for a price check. It is used by the food industry and was developed by the PMA (Produce Marketing Association).

The sticker has a 4- or 5-digit code that proves useful for the consumer. It tells us if the item is organically-grown. Keep in mind that PLU codes are not mandatory. Here is how to fully decipher the code:

  • Conventionally grown has a 4-digit code.
  • Organically grown produce has a 5-digit code, beginning with the number 9.

The good news is that if the product has a a 5-digit code beginning with the number 9, it is organically grown and non-GMO.

There are not many known genetically modified crops. Corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, papaya and squash are the crops that have been genetically modified. These items are sold  under “conventional” produce labels without disclosing whether or not the item is genetically modified.

If you are avoiding GMO’s then it’s advisable to purchase these items (corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, papaya and squash) only if the items are labeled organically grown.

For packaged goods, look for the 3d party certification label, verifying that the product is indeed non-GMO.