By: Gleason Center Editors, E.Bozik
Knowledge is power. This is especially true when it comes to what we put into our bodies. Fresh, whole foods have the power to transform our overall health. By choosing to buy organic and local produce, we are voting for a healthy, sustainable, fair trade food source. One that supports small farmers and ensures the most nutritious meals for our families.
While the best place to find fresh fruits and vegetables is from your local farmer’s market; climate, price, and convenience send most of us to the local grocer. So how can we choose organic, non GMO produce? Pay attention to the sticker on your fruits and veggies. Know your labels.
If the sticker only has four digits, the produce was conventionally grown. Conventionally grown means that pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and chemical herbicides were used during production. For example, a sticker reading PLU 4011 is placed on conventionally grown bananas.
If the sticker has five digits and begins with a 9, the item was organically grown. Fresh foods grown organically are produced without the use of toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, irradiation, or genetic engineering. Organic farming practices are healthier for the environment, safer for workers, and increase beneficial nutrients. An organically grown banana, would be labeled PLU 94011.
Here’s where it gets sticky. If the sticker has five digits but begins with an 8, the item is a genetically modified organism or GMO. GMOs are conventionally grown and produced from organisms with genetically altered DNA not found in nature. Debate continues over the safety and unknowns surrounding genetically modified organisms. Concerns include the potential for provoking allergic reactions, the transfer of genetic material, and outcrossing. The sticker on a genetically modified banana would read PLU 84011.
There is some controversy on the labeling of genetically modified foods. High risk GMO crops include alfalfa, apples, beets, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, potato, soy, and squash. We suggest always purchasing these fruits and vegetables in an organic variety.
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