How to tell if produce labeled “organic” is really organic

two heads of broccoli on a table before being steamed for babies starting solids

Given the markup value on organic produce, we have found there’s an incentive for stores to sometimes put an organic sign up in a stack of produce that is most certainly not organic. Most often, we find it with apples, which can have high levels of pesticide residue.

So how do you tell if the produce you want to buy is really organic? 

It’s easy. Look at the “PLU” numerical code on the sticker on the produce itself.

In the U.S., organic produce will always start with a number 9. 

If you see any other number (most commonly it’s a number 4 for conventional produce), it is *not* organic produce (or at least not certified organic).

A conventionally grown lemon with a sticker that starts with the number 4. In the U.S., this indicates the fruit was not organically grown.
An organically grown apple with a sticker that starts with the number 9.

Looking to avoid the issue altogether? Check out these foods, which are typically low in pesticides:

Raising a plant-based baby? See our guide to the Best & Worst Plant-Based Foods for Babies.

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