Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Choosing Between Nuclear Oranges, and Organic Apples

Choosing Between Nuclear Oranges, and Organic Apples
By: Chef Cristian

With all this talk about Organic foods versus Genetically Modified and Irradiated foods, people are still left wondering, "What am I eating?". Most of us can agree that not enough research has been conducted on the effects of eating genetically-modified (GM) foods. We simply have not been eating this stuff long enough to know the true effects that it may have on our genetic make-up. For example, geneticists have come up with something they call "Bt-corn". It's a corn plant that they have genetically modified to produce it's own poison - yes, that's right, the corn makes its own insecticide. So when bugs eat it, they die. Although it's sold as "safe for human consumption" I am still left wondering if a product like this would be safe over time.

Irradiated produce is given low doses of radiation at the time it's harvested to kill off any insects, and fungus. Would you be comfortable feeding this to your family? Being a Chef, I always try to find the healthiest foods for my family and my clients, and I try to stick to Organic and conventional produce. I find that a little pesticide washes off a lot easier than radiation or genetically manipulated DNA!

You may be the type of person that buys produce in the "Organic" section with the confidence that you're feeding your family a safe-to-eat product. But how do you really know? Well, luckily there is a way to know exactly what type of produce you are feeding your family.

Every fruit and vegetable you buy at your local grocery store has a PLU code (Price Look Up) printed somewhere on the product packaging, or on the product pricing tag. This PLU is used by the food industry (and your grocery store) to identify what type of produce it is, how it was treated and where it came from. And now you can use it too.

How to read PLU codes:

  • Conventional Produce has a four digit number starting in 4. Bananas, for example, might be 4042.
  • GM, or Genetically Modified produce has an 8 in front of the four digit number. GM Bananas would be 84042.
  • Organic produce has a 9 in front of the four digit number. Organic bananas would be 94042.
  • Irradiated produce has a four digit code that starts in 3. So irradiated bananas would be 3042.
Now that you know how the food industry labels its products, you can shop with more confidence and feed your family what you originally intended them to eat.

1 comment:

  1. The '8' never appears on PLUs of GMO produce because labeling of GMOs is not required. I have never yet seen an '8' but surely, most corn is genetically-modified these days.