Advice and tips from my mother on organic produce

I feel like I have a little bit of an advantage over everyone because I get little tips from my mom. Actually, we share this kind of information (I know where to buy just about anything at the lowest price, she always comes through with the dietary info). Anyway, in the interest of assuaging my guilt (I don't want to horde all this good info), here's a tip to all of you from my mom:

When you are buying fruits a veggies, if the PLU number begins with an 8--it is genetically engineered. If it starts with a 9--it is organic.

Cute, huh?

Comments (17)

  1. Maurits says:

    I thought it was illegal in the US to sell genetically engineered food for human consumption. Wasn’t there a big problem where Taco Bell had bought corn from a farm that accidentally mixed genetically engineered corn and regular corn in the same silo?

  2. Heather says:

    The Taco Bell thing was that they bought cattle grade corn and used it in their food.

  3. lucas says:

    Small correction (I did a quick google lookup):

    >>PLUs consist of 4 to 5 numbers.

    4 numbers = conventional produce

    5 numbers, starting with 9 = organic produce

    5 numbers, starting with 8 = genetically engineered produce<<

    Not sure if there are any 4 digit PLUs starting with 8 or 9.

    (source:, and others)

  4. Alex says:

    I like that she still calls herself Mommy in emails to you.

    FYI, I’ve got an idea I’m going to blog and then send to you – hopefully later tonight, maybe not till this weekend.

  5. Heather says:

    Thanks Alex. Sorry about your doggy. My friend Suzanne went through something similar recently when they lost Lexy at about the same age. They say that it’s good to buy a new puppy soon after (Suzanne did).

  6. Does this only work on fruits and veggies? What about Snickers and Twix?

  7. Mark Tookey says:

    I’ve never been sure about taking advice from mothers since mine told me that "nothing good would come from marrying an American." Mind you, maybe I should have listened… (only kidding, don’t anyone tell my better half!)


  8. Heather says:

    That’s OK Mark, my mom told me "never leave the house without lipstick" and I have totally internalized it. I take lipstick with me everywhere (yes mother…).

    Anyway, Mark, you picked a good American ; )

  9. Mark Tookey says:

    Well now at least your mother offers practical advice (next time I’m in the grocery store I am going to have a good look at the numbers!). Another gem I recall from my mother was "you shouldn’t be marrying an older woman you know, it’s not meant to be like that" (!!). I hasten to point out there is a 15 MONTH age gap between us!


  10. Heather says:

    Organic snickers? Sounds yummy-ish

  11. Heather says:

    Yeah, and only 13 grams of fat! Yikes!

  12. Anil says:


    I don’t know where you got your info about GM foods, but its LEGAL in the US to sell GM foods. In fact, unlike EU laws, the U.S. law does not require groceries and food producers to declare whether the food being sold is GM.

    The ‘organic’ labelling is voluntary and based on certain laws laid down by the state. Farmers and groceries have realized that there is a growing market for organic food and therefore opt to declare their produce ‘organic’.

    Some of the best places to buy organic groceries include Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Several regular grocery store chains now have organic produce sections.

  13. patblue says:

    How funny,

    I just started on the organic kick. Mainly with milk and eggs (vegeterian raised). NOW however, I am going to have to look fro 8 or 9s. Next step is vegetables…well, I guess, the next step would be EATING vegetables.

  14. Heather says:

    Anil—don’t even get me started on how much I love Trader Joe’s. Every time I go there I find things that I have never seen before….last time I found wheat sourdough bread…which totally alleviates the guilt I feel over my sourdough addiction (I hate the thought of that gummy white flour). Yesterday’s lunch was a bunch of blackberries and yoghurt from TJs. Yum!

    PatBlue-there’s a family that has a farm stand in Woodinville…we can take a trip one day during the summer. Literally the best veggies I have ever tasted. That will get you to eat your veggies!

  15. Patricia says:

    Genetically engineered food is legal.  The FDA however has to approve these foods for consumption.  Some pass the mustard for human consumption and others do not.  Cry9C is one type of genetically engineered corn that is approved for animal consumption, but not human consumption.  

    There is no easy way to separate normal corn from Cry9C.  You could avoid Cry9C contamination to some degree but not completely.  You could get cross contamination if the silos store both at various times and don’t get cleaned properly, if you are a corn grower and grow both near each other there is potential for cross contamination.  Even if you only store normal corn in your silos, only grow normal corn on your fields, there is still a chance for cross contamination thru polination, etc.

    My understanding is the reason Cry9C is not approved for human consumption is how it’s been engineered.  Most food allergies are due to proteins in the foods rather than anything else.  Nuts is a common allergy and nuts are a protein.  Cry9C contains proteins that some people are allergic to that could result in death.  So far there have been no known problems with regards to Cry9C as animal feed.

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