The majority of those who are suffering from the eye diseases of advancing age are members of the baby boomer generation. In yet another odd twist of fate, the vast majority of foods we were raised on met the checklist of organic foods already.

The definition of organic food is food that is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. For animal products such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products to qualify as organic, these animals must not have been given antibiotics or growth hormones.

If you think about it, in large measure that definition describes our agriculture and livestock industries that were in their own evolutionary process in the 1940s and early 1950s. At some point, organic lost and the need to increase yield became the operational battle cry of the food-producing industry. From that point forward, foods may have looked the same but were certainly a vector to allow very toxic substances to gain an entry point into the body with the potential for devastating repercussions.

The food industry, along with federal agencies, continues to try to convince the public that there is no difference between conventionally grown fruits and vegetables and their organic counterparts. They are, however, losing the argument, and organic farming is having a resurgence of willing farmers to meet the demands of the consumers that make their opinions known by their pocketbooks.

Even though organic foods cost more, their popularity continues to demonstrate a new trend to return to naturally grown. The food industry is not taking this new demand well. They continue to obstruct any new regulation that easily allows the consumer to distinguish between the two forms of food available in the marketplace. They instead rely on the consumer to opt for the cheaper prices of conventionally grown food to dictate the decision on what type of food will be purchased.

Do not look for transparency in labeling any time soon to help in this matter, but there is a way to cut through the mystery by what is known as a PLU coding system.

The PLU codes are not a part of the food industry or the US Department of Agriculture. They are four- or five-digit numbers that appear as a small sticker adhered to each individual fruit or vegetable. The supermarkets have used them since 1990 to make checkout and inventory control easier, faster, and more accurate. They ensure that consumers pay the correct price by removing the need for cashiers to identify the product as being either conventionally or organically grown.

You as the consumer can easily identify the type of produce by visually checking the number which appears on each individual item. In short, a five digit code that begins with the number eight signifies a genetically modified product. A five-digit code beginning with nine identifies an organically grown product. A four- or five-digit code beginning with a zero marks a nonqualified conventionally grown product.

You now have two ways to identify organic foods. If the food carries the USDA seal of “certified organic,” the producer has applied to the USDA for permission to use the label after having met the rigorous standards set by that agency for that designation. The second way for you to identify the type of produce you are considering is through the use of the four- or five-digit PLU codes used by the supermarket industry to keep track of inventory and pricing at the checkout counter.

Between the two methods, you should find shopping a unique experience to assist you in your quest to pursue a healthy diet and still allow you to maintain the presentation and preparation you enjoy.

After making the conscious decision to switch to organic food, your food choices no longer will carry any potential to harm you. By eliminating the detrimental aspects of your personal choices, your evolutionary diet becomes the healthy one you have been searching for. It all comes down to making intelligent choices in the quality of food you buy, not the actual foods themselves.


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