Ever wonder what all those labels on fruit mean?  Besides making it easy for the cashiers to ring you up, they do serve a more specific purpose.

Coding is applied to not only fruits, but vegetables, herbs, nuts.  But only fruits get an actual label and that label will tell you how the fruit was grown.  The labels are divided into 3 distinct categories:  conventional, genetically modified and organic.


For example:

A 4 digit code – means your fruit was conventionally raised.  If you don’t see a label with 5 digits it is safe to assume your fruit has been grown with pesticides and chemicals in probably depleted soil.

A 5 digit code (starting with the number 8) – means your fruit has been genetically modified.  It has been grown with pesticides already built in and has been modified.

A 5 digit code (starting with the number 9) – means your fruit is certified organic and most likely not made from Frankenstein (or in his lab)

Bottom line:  Buy your fruit locally if at all possible.  If it is during off season, organic would be my next best choice.  Remember, in order to be certified USDA Organic the farmer has to jump through hoops and hoops and go through years of testing his soil before he can grow anything on his land.  Your local farmer may choose not to certify himself organic due to cost reasons but still be an organic farmer according to the way he grows his fruits and veggies.  How do you know?  Just ask him!   Always choose local first, then read your labels at the market and always choose the NUMBER 9 !!

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  1. While this information might have been true at one time (maybe…) it’s not really valid anymore. Many products have 5-digit numbers that are neither organic nor GMO crops. Often the organic code will be only 1 number off the conventionally-grown number these days, and often don’t start with a 9 even if they are organic in the description. For that reason, I rely more on the description over the code if I need to select organic produce, or look for the distinctive packaging (for example, organic bananas come bundled and banded together where regular bananas are just loose bunches, for example).

    To reply to Anonymous above, I don’t think you understand the difference between traditional husbandry and modern genetic manipulation. We have practiced husbandry for countless generations, since the dawn of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, by purposely cross-breeding closely related species to get the desired traits. Is it genetic manipulation? Yes, but the key is that we always bred closely-related species, or specific representatives of a species, over the course of successive generations. We could cross-breed two types of grasses to create a new grain, for example, but we couldn’t cross-breed a grass with an apple. Modern genetic manipulation does that just – it creates new species not over successive generations of closely-related species until the desired traits are obtained, but actually inserts, deletes or otherwise manipulates the genes of a species sometimes introducing genes from an unrelated species that could not otherwise cross-breed with the original genome. Additionally, modern genetic manipulation generally changes the species at a fundamental level to make it resistant to chemicals that would otherwise be harmful (therefore encouraging the use of those chemicals), or in some instances makes it pest-resistant by simply making it poisonous to the pest, often with unknown effects. That’s concerning on many levels.

    As for GMO’s “feeding the world” studies have shown that the number one factor in the increase of yields is actually mechanization, not genetic manipulation. Here is the west we are very fortunate that we have access to a wide variety of mechanization processes that dramatic increase the amount of food that can grown per hectare and reduces the manpower needed to cultivate that land. Mechanization also helps make marginal agricultural land and makes it more readily workable. In most impoverish countries, this mechanization is lacking, relying instead primarily on manual or animal labour. That’s the actual reason why many countries can’t feed themselves, and it could be solved with investments in technology and basic machines that we take for granted. Additionally, because GMO seeds are patented, it further indentures the farmer to the companies that produce these seeds, and restricts their ability to be self-sufficient.

  2. That is really interesting! I have to pay more attention when I buy fruit. I don’t want any Frankenfruit!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for this information! I never knew the codes on the fruit had these handy codes, now I can make better choices on my food. I understand your concern about GMO’s, and that’s the right attitude, but humans have been genetically modifying food since before civilization arose. Lemons, all grains, and most fruits aren’t natural. Humans selected the best strains (biggest & juiciest fruits) and replanted and crossed strains to beat bugs and harsh weather. When we make GMO’s we are taking the genes from plants that have natural resistance to these harsh environments or natural plant defenses (like thorns on a rose) and use those plant genes to other plants. GMO’s are actually the cure for world hunger! If we didn’t have GMO’s we wouldn’t have enough food to feed the planet. Most of us are wealthy (relatively, on a global scale) enough to afford to choose organic products (which have significantly lower crop yields) at a higher cost than others. The first step is awareness and pesticide use should me more transparent.

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