Sticker Shock: What the Stickers on Fruit are Telling You

GMO, genetically modified, organic, pesticides, health, sustainable, fruit
Photo: Flickr user Bludgeoner86

If you’re frustrated by those pesky stickers on supermarket produce, this may change your tune. Did you know that those stickers aren’t just for the checkers’ use? The International Federation for Produce Standards uses a four or five digit code to identify certain types of produce. If you know what you’re looking for, you can utilize those stickers to make buying decisions about your family’s fruit and vegetable consumption. Think of them as secret produce decoders!

  • A four digit code (or a five digit code that begins with a zero) indicates your run-of-the-mill piece of produce, grown with traditional farming methods which may include the use of pesticides and herbicides.
  • A five digit code beginning with the number nine indicates an organically grown fruit or vegetable.
  • A five digit code beginning with the number eight indicates a piece of produce that’s been genetically modified.

With all the uncertainty about the safety of GMO (genetically modified) crops in the news these days and the unscrupulous business practices of GMO giant Monsanto, many families (including mine) are doing their best to avoid GMO foods. And of course, the pesticides and herbicides commonly used in farming have been linked to cancers like melanoma and breast cancer. While going organic isn’t always a feasible option, consumers can use these stickers to make educated choices about some of the food they eat, and perhaps choose organic versions of the produce that sits on the “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables.

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The GeekMom blog is captained by Jenny Bristol and Corrina Lawson, and supported by a brilliant team of writers. Since launching in 2010, we’ve created a robust community of writers, readers, and media geeks, dedicated to the vision of creating a smart, savvy, social online experience for geek parents everywhere.