Produce Stickers

My sister went to Safeway and brought home some beautiful white peaches.  They looked amazing.  Too bad they tasted like crap.  Then I checked the sticker that was on them.  It was #4098 (something like that), and I remembered that produce is labeled for two primary reasons: (1) to track inventory of produce in specific categories and (2) to inform consumers of how that piece of produce was grown.  There are three categories:

4 digits (starting with a 3 or 4):  This tells you that the apple or carrot you’re eating is conventionally grown with pesticides and sludge/chemical based fertilizer (which is on the food and in the food).  Very normal for supermarkets to carry these.  They tend to have less flavor than other produce.

5 digits (starting with a 9):  Fruit and vegetables that are certified organic will have this number.  Organic produce is grown without pesticides and sludge/chemical based fertilizer.  This is produce that you want

5 digits (starting with a 8):  This tells you that the produce has been genetically modified.  Foods are modified for various reasons: resistance to pathogens, flavor, nutrient content, color, and other physical traits.  Advocates against GM/GMO products note that you never know what the negative repercussions of changing the DNA of foods we eat.  Others say that science based changes have helped consumers get more nutrients, especially in today’s fast-food society.

I’ve found that nothing beats organically grown: the flavors are usually more intense and are safer to consumer.  They are more expensive (which makes no sense to me) but they are generally worth it.  I would suggest going to farmers’ markets which let you taste their produce (usually) so you’ll know which is the best.  Supermarkets don’t let you do that.

The next time you buy your produce, keep an eye out and make an informed decision!

Thomas Ngo
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Dietetic Intern

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