Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What do you get when you cross a frog and a tomato?

Photo by David Wagner

Stop! Before you bite into that apple, check the PLU!

The PLU? What's a PLU?

You know the little sticker you peel off as you're washing your produce (and I'm hoping you are washing your produce!). There is a 4 or 5 number code on it known as a Price Look Up code (or PLU). I thought that was just to make it easier for the check out clerks (who seem ridiculously inept at identifying the produce they sell in their stores) to determine the difference between a zucchini and a spaghetti squash when weighing them to be priced. Of course, that is one of the purposes. But for us, as consumers, the PLUs contain a very important piece of info we all need to know. The secret lies in the decoding (if only we all had decoder rings we could wear to the grocery store!). Here's what you need to know:

If your produce has a 4-digit code -- that means it has been conventionally grown, pesticides and all.

A 5-digit code can either be better ... or worse. The difference lies in the first number. A 9 gives you a green light to a safe purchase -- that means it is organic. Woo hoo. It might be a bit pricier, but after you read this post, you might be willing to fork over the extra pennies.

However, if your pear's PLU starts out with an 8 -- put it back!! An 8 means that lovely piece of produce has been genetically modified. What does that mean? Well, quite simply, it means someone's been messing with the genes. Huh? Take that GM tomato on the shelf -- did you know it was probably crossed with frog genes? Yes, I said frog genes. Why? So that feeble little tomato can be strong enough to withstand a bit of cold weather. Yum.

Bottom line on what to look for if you want to stay away from GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which started hitting the shelves in the early '90s:

Black plum -- 4039
Organic black plum -- 94039
GM black plum -- 84039

Here's an easy rhyme I came up with to help you remember:

Keep an 8 off your plate, bite into a 9 which is perfectly fine.

Silly? Yeah, but it just might help you remember.

Other than not wanting to imbibe on frog genes and other mad scientist experiments, there are some facts surrounding GMOs worth noting. GMOs are linked to a variety of conditions that seem to be growing in astronomical proportions in the last decade or so. Conditions such as:
  • anemia
  • autoimmune disorders
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • food allergies
  • infertility
  • and more
Scary, scary stuff. Scary enough to cause the European Union to take a stand against GMOs ... at least in some countries. You're safe from the devastating effects of genetically modified foods if you live in Germany, Austria, Luxemborg, Hungary, Greece, or France. More countries are waking up to the dangers and are adopting their own bans.

One of the problems in the U.S. is that, other than the PLU codes, labeling of GMOs is prohibited. How crazy is that?? And the problem is a bit overwhelming. As it turns out, 93% of the soybeans commercially grown in the States is genetically modified. Corn follows close behind at 80%. And it's not just fresh produce. Fresh nuts and herbs bear the PLU codes, but pre-packaged foods do not. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 products on the grocery store shelves are GM foods.

These products include dairy products, meat and poultry, eggs, rice, wheat, dressings and oils, soda and infant formula. What?? There are also countless processed foods packed with hidden GM additives and ingredients. Foods like spaghetti sauce, peanut butter and ice cream. Why? That's my question. Why??

What can you do? Campaign against GMOs! Check out the Organic Consumers Association for more information. Or sign the FB petition here.

You can also shop at stores dedicated to keeping GMOs off their shelves. At this point, I only know of one chain -- Whole Foods -- that makes this claim. Please let me know if you find there are others. CORRECTION!! Whole Foods has caved to the pressure. Click here for more info on this disturbing info.

We have a right to know what is being done to the food we eat and feed to our families. The thought of giving GM formula to an infant is enough to make me sick ... and it should make you sick as well. What is wrong with the U.S. food industry???
Keeping you informed in hopes of keeping you and your families safe,


If you want to learn more about the dangers of genetically modified foods, visit Seeds of Deception.


  1. This is one of the top hot-button issue for me! i hate how prevalent GM is--it is insidious! But I hate how you can't even trust those PLU codes--it's OK for GM producers to not tell us and say it's conventional! http://healthmad.com/nutrition/when-food-producers-mislabel-the-food-you-buy-what-labels-can-you-trust/

  2. I'm not sure even Whole Foods is fully GMO-free http://www.prwatch.org/spin/2011/01/9903/whole-foods-market-caves-monsanto :(

  3. Ouch!! Thanks, Liz. I am removing that endorsement! This is really disturbing. What the heck is anyone in charge thinking?? Oh yeah. It's all about the money!!


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