Recent data reveals that approximately 70% of the fruits and vegetables we are purchasing on a daily basis contain up to 230 different pesticides residues, a frightening statistic. Despite our best efforts to eat healthy, we may actually be introducing a host of chemicals into our daily diets. The good news is that there are steps we can take to reduce this risk!

If the first statistic there wasn’t enough to make you stop and consider the food you are eating, Time reported that 98% of peaches, cherries, and apples tested contained at least one pesticide. It’s a harsh reality that many Americans are unaware of, convinced that their food is safe if it makes it to the shelves. While it is true that regulations have removed a number of highly dangerous chemicals from use, we are far from completely removing these toxins entirely. In fact, there are even some pesticides still in use in the United States that have been banned in other countries due to concerns regarding the potential risks!

The good news is that the rise in organic produce provides Americans with the opportunity to purchase pesticide-free products. While some produce is clearly labeled when we are shopping, making it easy to identify the organic fruits from those that are conventionally grown or genetically modified, it’s not always that easy.

Luckily there is a secret and it all lies in that annoying little sticker we have to peel off our fruit when we bring it home. Not only is that sticker used for the purposes of cashing you out, each sticker includes a small 4 or 5-digit code that will reveal how the product was grown.  Found and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, Dr. Frank Lipman, revealed the secret in an article on his website.

Look carefully at the bold number by the barcode. More specifically, look at the first number in that code. Here is what it reveals:

If the code is 4 digits long:

This is the code applied to all fruits that are grown conventionally. This will apply to most of the fruit that you will see for sale, as the conventional or ‘traditional’ approach to produce, which is widely accepted in the country today, is to use pesticides to protect the crops from the destruction of pests. Unfortunately, these pesticides often remain on our food as a residue. All traditionally grown bananas, for example, will be marked with the code 4011.

If the code is 5 digits long, starting with the number 8:

A controversial approach to food production, these codes refer to produce that has been genetically modified. Grown from genetically modified seeds, these products are unable to be considered as organic even if no pesticide is applied to the crop after its growth. The long-term effects of eating genetically modified foods are still largely unknown, making their consumption controversial. Genetically modified bananas would be labeled with the code 84011.

If the code is 5 digits long, starting with the number 9:

Produce labeled with this code is considered to be organic, meaning that it is grown naturally without the use of chemicals. If you are trying to ensure that your diet is as natural and chemical free as possible, these are the fruits and vegetables that you should be purchasing. They may or may not be labeled as organic by the grocery store, and some foods are even marketed as organic when they actually aren’t, so always rely on the code to tell you the truth. Organically grown bananas are labeled with the code 94011.

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