How To Tell If Loose, Unpackaged Produce Is Organic

May 1, 2019

©Ihor Kashurin/Getty Images

According to the Organic Trade Association, annual sales of organic food is $35.9 billion annually. In fact the US government says the number of organic operations in the US has nearly tripled since the USDA began keeping count in 2002, currently totaling a record 19,474 operations. Each year farms are annually inspected to make sure they are complying with the Department of Agriculture organic standards, which allows the farm to affix an organic seal to their product. But you often won't see the USDA seal on loose, unpackaged produce, such as apples, which some stores place next to conventional produce. So how can you tell if a loose piece of produce is organic or not?  Look for a sticker or band that has a price look-up (PLU) code. Conventional produce PLUs have four digits and organics have five and the first number will always be 9 if the produce is organic. For example, apricots' PLU is 3422 for conventional and 93422 for organic. Although PLUs aren't mandatory or regulated by the government, these numbers are used widely around the globe for pricing and inventory control, so they're generally reliable and good for shoppers to know.

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SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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