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How do Numbers and Labels rule our Health and Well-being?

Updated on September 9, 2016

Stickers are found on all the food items that we purchase, but little do we notice the numbers on it. These numbers are called the price look-up (PLU) number, and it speaks a lot about our health and the history of the produce such as where was it grown, how was it developed and under what circumstances was it cultivated. The PLU number is significant and is mandatory for all the produce.

The number of digits in the PLU number matters.

If it is a four digit sticker, then that produce was grown with the help of pesticides. Example: Bananas having a code of 4011
If the sticker is a five digit and the number starts with an 8 then that produce has been genetically modified. Example: Banana having a code of 84011
If the PLU number has five digits and the number starts with 9, then that food has been grown organically. Example: Banana having a code of 94011

Humans are advised to eat at least 3-4 serving of fruit and vegetables per day. We should lower our pesticide intake by eating least contaminated produce.

Some of the produce that is highly contaminated and should be eaten organic is listed in the table below

Sweet Bell Peppers
Green beans

There are certain produces, which need not be organic.The list is given below in a table format.

Sweet Peas
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Corn
Winter Squash

Foods are also genetically engineered to be herbicide or insect resistant, but experts have found this mutation to alter the nutritional value of many crops. The list is documented in a table format.

Sugar beets
Golden Rice

When shopping for foods, look out for:

  • PLU numbers, which are small stickers found on the food and comply with the above rules.
  • Look for the USDA Organic Seal. This seal certifies that food is produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones or genetic engineering.
  • Look for Non-GMO labels. This label certifies that it is not genetically modified (non-GM), however; this does not mean the product is organic.
  • Look for rBST-free or rbGH free seal. This certifies that animals are not injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone to boost milk production. However, many brands swear to be rBST-free, but it is always good to be aware of it.

All humans are subjected to Non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods. Recently, North America has created a non-profit organization, which is creating awareness of genetically modified produces and it’s effects since they believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume GMO foods. Website has all the information about the various foods subjected to mutations and what choices man can make to prevent it from consuming it.

Organic Foods and their expenses

We all are aware that organic foods are expensive and in this kind of economy when sustaining a job is tight, and inflation is hitting us all. We could avoid consuming foods that are rich in pesticides and try for Non-GMO produces or aim for foods that have low levels of pesticides in them and need not be organic (listed above)

A Tip

Look for the nutritional value of the produce, which is dirty with pesticide (Example: Apple), and try to replace it with another food from the not so dirty list.

The saying that, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.” Does not hold true with many pesticides this poor fruit gets sprayed upon.

Apples are rich in Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene. If buying organic is hard for the pocket, try purchasing Mangoes or Plums or Watermelon, which make the safer list and are equally delicious in the above nutrients.

Message to our Farmers

Why create such produce, which comes under the radar and humans cannot consume because of the chemicals thriving on it? Why create such food that can cause a debilitating disease to humankind?

Nature is in abundance and also perfect if looked into the logistics of it.

The bottom line is: One should eat healthily and make the right choices to stay in good condition.

Food Label and Man's health

California is proposing Proposition 37 where the farmers are subjected to say how their produces have been grown. They have to show labels on their harvest.

What will your take be on Prop 37?

See results


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    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is excellent information! I didn't have a clue what the PLU number represented. I did learn that strawberries should always be organic but didn't know the complete list so this was helpful. I try to always buy organic now but can't always find everything so it's good to know some of the vegetables are somewhat safe even if not organic. Voted up!

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 4 years ago from Guildford

      Such amazing information. Thank you so much, I am so concerned about eating anything genetically modified and now I know the coding it will help me enormously to ensure that I don't eat these types of foods. Definitely voting up and pressing the appropriate buttons - thank you again.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Audrey,

      I hope so too, my friend.

      I am hoping it gets across farmers who have the ability to produce foods in abundance for many masses to consume to be thinking from their hearts and not their heads which usually calculates the yield and profit margin etc.

      Thanks for your valuable feedback and support. Hugs!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Ruchira - Forgot to add in my comments how much I like your "Message to the Farmers." I wonder if their might be a change in things if we all wrote such a message to the farmers, or even the powers that be?

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you Richard, Ishwaryaa, Vasmenon, Audrey, Ruby, Lipnancy, Dianna, Carol, Christy, Audrey, Paula

      I am glad this hub was useful 'cause it sure is a shame that humans are polluting each other with the chemicals and we ought to look after ourselves.

      Wishing you all good health 'cause if there is health one can accumulate wealth :)


    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Ruchira.......Thank you for the great training class!! I hate shopping...especially for groceries. It takes me ALL day because I read everything and compare products and prices...etc. I suppose this is why my husband does the shopping.

      You are a treasure, Ruchira!....Excellent info hub!!....UP+++

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Ruchira - You've done an outstanding job on bringing an awareness to others on selecting healthier foods. Just this morning as I was about to eat my organic apple, I peeled the sticker off and put it aside. I wanted to research what these labels meant. Then tonight I found your hub, so thank you my friend.

      It's a crying shame that we as a society have to be so careful with the produce we eat. It really makes me turn red with anger.

      If enough of us stopped purchasing genetically altered food and food covered in pesticides, it might stop. But I suppose that is just wishful thinking, especially with a weak economy.

      You're the best! Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and sharing this everywhere!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What an interesting read here. I do not know if we have PLUs in Canada on our foods but I will take a look next time I'm at the grocery store! Vote up and useful.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      This is new to me..I will notice this from now on. What a great hub ...I love learning all these new things. Voting up and sharing on Facebook...

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Ruchira, I caught this earlier but just wanted to post how much I enjoyed the information.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Thanks for the information. Most farmers would love to grow foods without pesticides. Most of them are mandated from our government.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I had no idea about the stickers on fruit being that important. This is a great article. I will be looking more closely. Thank you Ruchira.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      A timely hub and so informative--sharing this!

    • vasmenon profile image

      vasmenon 4 years ago from India

      Very useful information indeed, though I am not sure if the PLU number system is followed by supermarkets in India, will have to check it out....Thank you for the information

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      An informative & well-researched hub! In my country, the codes set are somewhat varied. My mother is very health-conscious and ensured that the foods purchased contained no pesticides and often bought such foods from reputed local organic markets. Sometimes, we buy from the supermarkets and yes, this helpful hub of yours serves further as a good reminder! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Ruchera - Great information. When is eating healthy not healthy? When it can be just as you've described here. Great job of informing us of things that pass most of us by without a thought!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks Bill, Frank, Janine, shiningirisheyes, IntegrityYes, Olde Cashmere.

      I was enlightened about it as well and thought of sharing it across; I am glad the PLU number was informative to you.


    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

      The information in this hub is critical to become aware of. I don't know why they are doing this to us. Voting up, sharing, and rating useful, and interesting :)

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      Ruchira is so talented and I definitely voted up.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Extremely spot on Ruchira. I spent many many years as a buyer for a major grocery store chain and part of those years were dedicated to purchasing produce.

      Great job.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Oh I always saw the PLU number when I scanned it to buy it at the grocery store now, but never knew that different amount meant different things. Will definitely be looking now and be more conscious of this. Have of course voted and shared all over!!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      Im gonna tell you Ruch you are just a wealth of information... voted useful :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very useful Ruchira! I didn't know about the PLU number, or what it meant. I will be reading that from now on. Thank you for a valuable piece of information.