What’s in numbers?

Malus “Cripps Pink” aka “Pink Lady” by Sven Teschke
 All of us love to munch upon our favourite fruits but, we do find the stickers on them a bit annoying. Have you ever wondered that apart from destination of the produce, what other information those stickers can give? Well, those stickers provide crucial information on the mode of production adopted for fruits so that we can conveniently choose the fruits that we think are best suited to our requirements.
The codes on fruits are known as Price Look-up codes or PLU codes colloquially. These codes are in use since 1990 and as of now there are more than 1400 PLU codes assigned. International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) manages PLU codes across the globe to maintain international standard for PLU codes, this coalition of various fruits and vegetables association from across the globe is co-ordinated by Produce Marketing Association.

Meaning of various PLU-codes

*Presence of mere four numbers generally starting with 4 or 3 means the fruit has been produced using traditional method and involves usage of pesticides over them. These kind of fruits are safe as long as one washes them properly before gorging upon them.

*If there are five digits on stickers of fruits or vegetables and the number begins with 8 then it means the concerned fruits or vegetables have been genetically modified. Phew! This is where most of us get scared because there has not been much studies on effects that genetically modified fruits or vegetables can have on us. It is not that genetically modified fruits are going to be bad for our health but, the uncertainty over their effects make most of anxious to use them. Nevertheless, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of munching upon genetically modified fruits or vegetables then from the next time you can avoid fruits or vegetables with 5-digit numbers starting with 8.

*If there are five digits over stickers of fruits or vegetables and the number begins with 9 then it means that the concerned fruit or vegetable has been produced by using organic methods i.e. no chemicals in the form of pesticides, insecticides etc. have been used to produce them. Organic fruits and vegetables are considered to be healthiest and safest kind but, they are usually quite expensive compared to fruits or vegetables produced by using other methods.

The Choice
Now since we know what do the various numbers on stickers over fruits and vegetables mean, we can choose the type that we think is most suitable for our purpose and budget. Budget is important because prices of various fruits and vegetables largely depend upon the methods adopted to produce them. Organic Fruits may be healthier and safer but, they can be quite expensive for an average individual while on the other hand, we don’t know much about the effects that genetically modified fruits or vegetables can have on our bodies but, they are generally cheaper than fruits produced by using other methods. Fruits produced with traditional methods using pesticides fall in the mid-way i.e. they are cheaper than organic fruits and vegetables but, costlier than genetically modified produce and they are safe as long as we properly wash them before eating.

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