Learn true meaning of Produce Sticker!

Those stickers you see on fruits and vegetables tell the tale of their life whether they are organic, conventional or GMO grown.

Printed on that sticker is a code that tells us where and how our fruits and vegetables actually are grown! You just have to know how to read the labels and the PLU number. It’s actually a lot easier than you’d imagine.

You know those stickers that can be found on most fruits and veggies in grocery stores worldwide are know as PLU’s (price lookup codes).

 produce, organic, gmo, non gmo, genetically modified organisms,
bannans have a PLU of 4011 (conventional), 94011 (organic) and 84011 (gmo)

I’m sure for those who work or used to work in a grocery store, those stickers are burned into our minds (I am one of those people). They usually have a bar code on them for scanning and a PLU code, which helps your friendly neighborhood cashier identify what type of produce you’re buying.

 PLU’s mean Organic, GMO or Conventional grown and identifies the item.

But these unassuming stickers are more telling than you’d think. While the PLU is the “price lookup” number and identifies the fruit or veggie, it also helps to identify something else: how the produce was grown. By correctly reading this code, you can tell if the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or herbicides

 PLU basics for the consumer help with organic selection

Here’s the basics of what you need to know about the truth behind PLU codes.

  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 (or only four, in this case) of the PLU code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit you’re buying. 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 have been tampered with in an unnatural way; essentially, produce that has been genetically modified was created in a lab or over decades of artificial selection, and cannot be found in nature. 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

Interestingly enough, the adhesive used to attach the stickers is considered food-grade, but the stickers themselves aren’t safe to consume.

If you’re looking to be hyper aware of what fruits and vegetables have been treated with pesticides and other chemicals and which have not, you’ll want to check out the homepage for the Environmental Working Groups. A consumer group has compiled two lists to help consumers identify which produce is generally cleaner and which produce is generally tampered with; the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen.

The Top 5 Clean Produce items are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet Peas (Frozen)

The Top 5 “Dirty produce items” are:

These items should always be organically purchased.

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery

What do you think of this sticker revelation? Will this change how you shop for produce? Share your thoughts on this in the comments section below and sign up for our free Newsletter and in-store promotions.


Vitamins and supplements are not created equal

By Alexandra Lundahl

Seminole – Even though she sells vitamins and supplements for a living, pushing products is not her priority. Her customers’ overall health is.

“I personally think that the public should know that the best vitamins sit in whole food,” said Sybille Rischmeier, certified nutritional counselor and owner of Sunshine Health Foods, 6989 Seminole Blvd, Seminole Florida.  http://www.sunshinehealthfoods.net/home/

“Everything I have on the shelf, when it comes to normal vitamins, is second-best. And when they choose a vitamin, then they should go with a whole food-based vitamin. One that’s not made in the laboratory. That’s very important.”

Rischmeier said the body in essence knows the difference between vitamins and minerals that occur naturally in food and those that were produced in a lab setting.

One problem with he vitamin and supplement industry, Rischmeier said, is that it is not regulated by the FDA so consumers must be careful about what they buy and use. Some use fillers and sub par products, and some are misleading about what they actually contain, she said. One example she uses is fish oil.

“chewing (food) properly is extremely important”

“You can buy a fish, a big old fish, and squeeze the heck out of it,” Rischmeier said.

“You will get some fish oil. But how much omega do you get? This is what you’re after. You’re after the omega 3’s, not the fish oil. And there are a lot of companies out there that don’t even give you the amount of omega 3.”

Since, these things are not regulated, it’s crucial that people educate themselves so they know what is in the pills they take and what quality the substances are, she said, because the general label alone often is misleading.

When one does get quality products, there are so many ways that vitamins and supplements can help the body, Ruschmeier said. In the case of fish oil and omega 3s, this is used to help with on’s mood, in the immune system, and to help one’s brain and heart function better, she said.

The body in essence knows the difference between vitamins and minerals that occur naturally in food and those that were produced in a lab setting.

Additionally, a good vitamin is an excellent energy source, she said. For instance, one way a multivitamin can help is to ease digestion, which can lead to more energy.

“A good whole food multivitamin, which mostly has things like chorella, spirulina, barley. Those are not only super foods, they also cleanse,” Rischmeier said. “If your liver is running smoothly, you produce enzymes and a quality bile, I would say. Quality bile breaks down your food. The problem with the body is that digestion is always taking so much energy away, so the easier you make it on the body to digest, (the more energy you’ll have.)”

Healthy digestive track is essential to good health.
it is important to maintain a healthy digestive track. If you are taking an antibiotic – you must take a probiotic measured in the billions of cultures

Additionally, chewing properly is extremely important for this same reason, she said. Most people swallow far too quickly before their teeth have really been put to the proper use, Ruschmeier said. The better one chews, the less work the digestive track will have to work and more energy will be saved for other things.

“Digestion is an assemble line.” Ruschmeier said. “If you don’t chew your food, you give the big load to the belly. That what the teeth are for. And a lot of people with bad digestion problems they have bad teeth or related problems.”

“probiotics should be measured in the millions and billions”

Magnesium is another essential nutrient that can be found in vitamins, Ruschmeier said. Magnesium is needed for sleep, digestion, heart rhythm, to ease headaches and to prevent constipation, she said.

Ruschmeier said that co-enzyme Q-10 is very important for everyone over the age of 35, and that everyone should also get  enough of vitamin D3. Additionally, sh said, lutein vitamin can help delay muscular  degeneration, MSM vitamins can help as a painkiller an d to rebuild cartilage, and turmeric and bosweilaa can work as anti-inflammatory agents. Hawthorn is good for the heart, while pumpkin seed oil is good for the bladder, she said.

“There are so many herbs and spices that all have had a place for hundreds of years,” Rischmeier said. “I’m from Europe, and there that’s what people do first. Everybody has a natural health bible at home, and that’s how we grow up and that’s what we first do.”

“if your has no air in the tires, you wouldn’t first buy a new motor and expect it to run better – you’d fill up the tires”

Rischmeier notes that it is important not to rely on vitamin as a way to receive all of one’s essential nutrients. They are meant to be supplemental, in addition to eating well.

There is so much information about vitamins that it can be overwhelming and difficult to know here to start. The following is a top 10 list that Ruschmeier views as some of the most important things people should do and know about vitamins and supplements.

Make sure the vitamin is whole food-based. Also, look for a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) stamp on the label to help ensure there are no fillers, preservative and other “garbage” added in.

Make sure the vitamin A is 100 per cent beta-carotene.

Vitamin E should always say d-alpha – which is natural, not dl-alpha – dl-alpha is synthetic Vitamin E – made from petroleum, she said.

Vitamin D should be D3. Vitamin K should be from natto. Ruschmeier said this vitamin can go into the arteries and wash down calcification, but it has to be from natto.

Look for specific amount of Omega 3 content, not just labeled as “fish oil.” Example: 1 tsp – 1,600mg of Omega 3.

A probiotic should show the units in billions, not in milligrams. Probiotics are not measured in micro-grams but in the millions or billions of cultures, she said.

“If someone who is on a antibiotic or who was recently on an antibiotic they should take a refrigerated probiotic and not a shelf-stable probiotic measured in the billions,” Ruschmeier said.

She said, if you car has no air in the tires, you wouldn’t first buy a new motor and expect it to run better – you’d fill the tires up with air first. Rischmeier said the same is true about one’s health. Start by eating more vegetables and fruits, going for a walk, and then one can work on fine-tuning things like adding specific supplements to address individual nutritional needs.

Keep in mind that the body changes as it gets older, and sometimes things that you  could always eat with no problems will become less compatible with your body. Once such common thing is lactose. Pay attention to your body and its reactions.


first published in: Beacon Newspaper