Do You Know Nutrition: Learning all about price look-up codes

By Phylis Canion
July 8, 2014 at 2:08 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

Is it true that the price lookup codes on fruits and vegetables can indicate if a food is genetically modified? How does one know what to buy if the code is not listed? Can you provide a list of preferred produce?

The price lookup codes are the stickers of produce. Conventionally, grown produce has a four-digit price lookup code starting with the number 4. Organic produce comes with a five-digit price lookup code beginning with the number 9.

The five-digit code beginning with the number 8 means that the produce is genetically modified. However, because the code is optional, many producers do not use it because consumers have learned the meaning of the codes and have begun to refuse to buy those products.

If you are concerned, it is always best to just buy organic. In fact, you may have noticed at grocery stores that the organic produce has a section of its own. You can thank legislation for that because it is required to be separated from its conventionally raised counterparts to assure any water runoff from conventionally raised products does not contaminate the organic section.

So how do you know what to buy? Bauman College developed the following list, I hope this helps.

Here is what is best to buy organic: peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, pears, celery, bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, leafy greens, spinach, kale, collard greens, baby food, chicken, beef, pork, coffee, nuts, butters and cooking oils.

Here is what is OK to buy conventional: onions, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, sweet peas, sweet potatoes, avocados, pineapples, mangoes, mushrooms, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit and kiwi.

If you are interested in a nongenetically modified shopping guide, visit for a complete list. It is also available for download. Because I know you are asking yourself, the adhesive used to attach the stickers is considered food-grade, but the stickers themselves are not edible.

Thought for the week: The most extraordinary thing about your life is that you are the author of your own destiny, and you get to decide what's in the next chapter.

The next free nutrition class is 7 p.m. July 14 at Organic Emporium in Victoria and 6 p.m. July 17 at the Cuero Wellness Center.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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