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Decoding Produce Labels

In my efforts to provide the healthiest food options for my family I spend a lot of time in the produce section. I pay due diligence to make certain I choose food that is not bruised or over ripe. While we often think everything there is safe to eat, this really becomes a subjective topic! What many people consider safe I would not touch! For example, I learned recently that green bell peppers are actually not ripe! I no longer buy them and instead pay a little extra for the red, orange or yellow bell peppers. And what a taste treat!! These are so sweet!

I also have seen the little stickers on each item of produce and wondered if these really meant more than just the magic number for the cash register to decipher! Well, indeed they do! Here is the coding that is used:

FOUR DIGIT NUMBERS (they all begin with 3 or 4) denote conventionally grown, non-GMO produce (that is, grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers and not genetically modified)

FIVE DIGITS BEGINNING WITH AN 8 means the produce is GMO, genetically modified


I cannot always get Organic food in my area but I certainly NEVER buy produce beginning with an 8! The real bummer about knowing of these numbers - I am forced to take my reading glasses to the grocery store!!