Knowing if Your Produce is Organic or GMO

You know those silly little stickers they put on our veggies? The ones you used to put EVERYWHERE as a kid? Well they aren’t so silly after all! Turns out they are a huge key to knowing where your food came from.

• If the code starts with a 9….

Your food *is* ORGANIC good job! This means your food was grown or made without the use of harmful/artificial chemicals. These plants are known to have a higher nutrient density and support smaller farms and local businesses.

• If the sticker has just four digits….

Your veggie is conventionally grown, which means the farm it came from has used one or more pesticides, or artificial fertilizers during the growing process that contaminate the soil and veggie. Produce with this product ID code are usually mass produced and can lead to hormone and immune imbalances (among other things) in humans.

• Five digits where the code starts with an 8…

Your fruit is a mutant!

All joking aside, this code means that your produce has been genetically modified, changing the DNA  to form a combination of gene traits that do not occur in nature. This is generally done to allow the plants to survive the application of strong pesticides. However, the porous skin of these plants still absorbs these chemicals making them a detriment to you and your family as consumers.

What foods are most likely to contain GMOs?

“With regard to our North American food supply, approximately 93% of soy, 88% of field corn, 94% cotton, and over 90% of canola seed and sugar beets planted in the U.S. (2012 data) are genetically engineered.According to the Non-GMO Project, the following are considered High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):

  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)

  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)

  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)

  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)

  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)

  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)

  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)

  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)”

More information on other high-risk foods, monitored crops and common ingredients derived from GMO risk crops can be found on their website,

So what does all this mean for you, the consumer? Well if you decide that places like Whole Foods just aren’t for you, this gives you a guide to shopping healthier and smarter. Some other quick tips are to look for stickers like these:


In the end, its up to you to research where your food is coming from. Yes Organic can be a bit pricey, but what better to invest in, than your health?

Ben Gamache