When we buy vegetables and fruit in the store, we are at the mercy of those who grew them. How do we know where the plants were grown, how they were grown or whether they were genetically engineered?
Fortunately, there is an easy way to find out. Take the rubber band or sticker off the vegetable or fruit and look at the number printed on it. For example, right now I have a rubber band from a bunch of broccoli I bought at the local grocery store. The band says, "PLU #4060 Product of USA." That tells me where my broccoli came from, but does the number mean anything? Yes, it does! I can go to www.plucodes.com and find out that my broccoli was conventionally grown (i.e. not organic) and even learn its botanical name. The PLU code tells us where and how produce was grown, whether conventionally, organically, or with genetic engineering.
Conventionally grown produce has a four-digit PLU code. Organic produce has a five-digit code beginning with 9. Had my broccoli been organic, the PLU number would have been #94060. Genetically modified produce has a five-digit code beginning with 8.
The original purpose of the codes was to make checkout easier for clerks who may not know the difference between a Granny Smith apple and a Golden Delicious, but those little stickers and rubber bands help all of us to know a little more about the food we're putting into our bodies.