One of my favorite features within Farmanac is the ability to look up produce using the PLU (Price look-up) code. The PLU code is the set of numbers that appear on the small stickers attached to fruits and vegetables. This number can provide valuable information while evaluating produce at the market. It can reveal whether the item is organic or conventional, it’s varietal information, and occasionally it will give you a general idea of where the product was grown (ie…eastern North America).
When we built Farmanac we wanted to take advantage of the many facts available from PLU codes, so we made it easy for you to search for products that have a PLU. From the first screen you see on the Farmanac app-an overview of the 1400+ products in our database – you can simply enter the PLU code to look up the fruit or vegetable in your hand. But by far the best reason to use the PLU code is to determine if a product is organic.
A typical PLU is 4 digits, however, many PLUs have 5 digits beginning with an additional number to indicate the following:
- 8 means it is genetically modified
- 9 means it is organic
For example, the code for a banana is 4011. If the code is 94011, it is an organic banana. If the code is 84011, it is a genetically modified banana. While the code isn’t meant to be cryptic, Farmanac will help you by displaying the status at the top of your screen should your memory lapse. It will then deliver a variety of other useful items you probably didn’t know. Things like how to chose a ripe product, it’s pesticide level, and even when it’s in season. Our hope is every time you leave the market you’ll end up with produce that’s fresh, in season, and free of toxic pesticides.
Farmanac, the iPhone version, will be released in a couple weeks and you can then try it for yourself.