Decoding Your Produce Stickers


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Ever wonder what the codes on your produce stickers mean? Here is the low-down on decoding your produce.

  • A 4-digit code on your produce (usually beginning with a 4 or a 5) indicates that the produce has been conventionally grown with the use of chemicals, fertilizers, herbicides and/or insecticides. This is what is most commonly sold in the produce section of a typical grocery store.
  • A 5-digit code on your produce beginning with a 9, indicates that the produce is organic and has been grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and has not been genetically modified. You may have a small selection of organic produce in your local grocery store or supermarket or you can find organic produce at organic store. Organic produce does generally cost a bit more than conventionally grown produce.
  • Genetically modified produce usually has a 5-digit code that begins with an 8. This means that the produce has had its genetic structure altered for various reasons, to make it resistant to disease, increase its size, or alter the its nutrient content.

If you can’t afford to buy all organic produce, or it is not available in your area, be on the lookout for these fifteen fruits and veggies that are called “The Clean Fifteen”, the produce that contains the least amount of pesticide residue.

The Clean 15

  • avocados
  • sweet peas
  • sweet corn
  • onions
  • sweet potatoes
  • sweet onion
  • cabbage
  • eggplant
  • asparagus
  • pineapples
  • mango
  • kiwi fruit
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit

The following list contains the produce that shows the highest amount of pesticides and has tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals. Always make sure to buy organic when it comes to the following produce.

The Dirty Dozen

  • apples
  • peaches
  • cherries
  • strawberries
  • imported grapes
  • domestic blueberries
  • nectarines
  • celery
  • sweet bell peppers
  • spinach, kale and collard greens
  • potatoes
  • lettuce

Check out these links for more information:

Safe and happy eating!