Supermarkets, as many of you know are not my favorite place. However, when I am in the markets I tend to be rather friendly and start conversations with the people closest to me. I sometimes cannot believe the price of cauliflower. Really, sometimes it’s as high as $4.99 a head, regardless of size. I have taken my conversations though to a new level. I go out of my way to let other customers know about the app I have on my phone. Yes, there is an app you can use in the supermarket informing you about the produce you buy. Someone like me finds this exciting believe it or not.
Every wonder what PLU numbers really stand for when you see that little sticker on your produce. I just thought it was a way for the supermarkets to scan the product with a given price. The PLU number is anything but that. The PLU number gives consumers as well as the markets that purchase the produce much information.
First, let me tell you a little about the PLU numbers and then I will share my App.
The PLU number given to produce is not mandatory for growers to use. Having said that, there are currently 1,400 global PLU codes assigned to produce. The number represents the size of the produce and describes whether an item is large or small, or in some cases, what the count is. If you are interested in more information on PLU numbers and what growers have to consider go to www.plucodes.com, the International Federation for Produce Standards.
Now for the information you can take to the store. All produce has a four digit PLU number. If there is a number 9 in front of the four digit number it is organically grown. If there is a 3 or 4 in the front of the number then it is grown conventionally.
When you see a PLU number starting with the number 8 it means that is genetically modified. Not many produce items will have the number 8 except maybe some versions of corn and soybeans. However, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) will be used in many of our processed and packaged foods.
The App that tells you ALL is called the Farmanac App. You are able to type in the PLU number when you are at the store and it will tell you about the particular produce item, how to select it, the level of pesticide use, how to store it, use it and when it is in season where. The list is quite extensive and I have always found my PLU numbers in our local markets. Even if you can not afford to buy organic, you can make an educated choice knowing some choices are lower in pesticides then others. It cost $1.99 but is worth every penny.
Again, bottom line, be an informed shopper. When you get a chance, support your local farmer. They usually practice organic farming practices so no PLU code will be on their produce and often times when in season locally it will be a little less expensive then the market.
Let me know how you like it.