Do you remember your PLUs?

About a year ago I ran a post about PLUs.  These are the numbers listed on the little stickers of the produce we purchase.  Did you remember that PLUs (“Product {or Price} Look-Up” labels) actually mean something?… they aren’t just random numbers.

I have them in long-term memory but I was reminded about them during my recent grocery store trip when I realized (while standing in line, of course!) that I had forgotten to purchase tomatoes.  I asked my 10-year old to run back to the produce section and bring back three tomatoes.  I did, however, forget to be specific… ugh-oh.  Well, lo and behold, she returned with three lovely tomatoes and said “Don’t worry… they’re 9 Mom!”  Yes, she remembered!

So, it’s a good time for a reminder:  the important number is actually the first digit and they can tell you a whole lot about the produce you purchase.  It tells you exactly how it was grown.

Here are the digits you need to remember (with an update from my past post) :

  • 3 or 4 – indicates conventionally grown produce (grown with pesticides, herbicides & fertilizers)
  • 8 – originally I had indicated that this identifies genetically-modified (GMO) or genetically-engineered (GE) produce but more evidence is showing that this may not be so and there is no true designation for GMO.
  • 9 – indicates that the produce is ORGANIC

The next time you pick up a piece of produce: (1) look at the first digit of the PLU label, (2) remember these numbers, (3) know what you’re buying and then (4) rest assured that they’ll tell you more about the food you’re buying for (and serving to) your family.  And, even when you don’t expect it, your kids may catch on too!

Even MORE labeling terms you should know about!

organic slYes, friends… once again I’m working on understanding labels and knowing exactly what they mean (or in many cases, DON’T mean!).

I’ve talked about pesticide-free & chlorine-free, non-toxic labeling, fragrance-free vs. unscented, PLU produce labels and certified-organic vs. organic ingredients.

Now I have a few more that you should know about:  “Green”, “Renewable” and “Certified Organic”.  (Have a guess about which ones actually mean something?)

Well, it appears that “Certified Organic” is the only trustworthy label in this group.  Certified Organic is stgrn labelrictly defined and regulated by the USDA.  “Green” and “Renewable”, on the other hand, mean NOTHING! They are undefined and, once again, completely unregulated.

Like some of the other terms I mentioned, any manufacturer can place these words on their label to give you peace of mind about what you’re purchasing.  And ONCE AGAIN they can do it, just because the terms aren’t regulated.  That doesn’t mean that ALL products that use these terms aren’t legitimate, but the problems is that it’s sometimes difficult to really know.

renwable labelThere’s so much greenwashing happening… the best thing to do is to only select products that have legitimate, regulated terms associated with them.  Otherwise, like that box of chocolates, ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’!

So, it’s time again to break out that notepad, just to keep it straight since, sadly, we can’t always believe what the labels are attempting to tell us.

Do I have animal magnetism?

dr fawnnTruly, I’m thinking the answer has to be “yes”.  And I’m not tooting my own horn… I’m literally talking about REAL wild animals…

I’ve written before about how we seem to have an unusually large population of animals in our yard and (I’m not kidding), it has gotten even more outrageous.  While I can sit on my back patio and gaze at downtown Cleveland, I also seem to be harboring a suburban animal sanctuary.r'coon babies

Want to know what’s been hanging out in our yard lately? Lemme give you the list … deer (including babies!), squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossum, snakes, rabbits, hawks, a wild turkey, birds in general (galore!) and a red fox, for pete’s sake.

No one else seems to find these animals lingering in their yard… except me.  Want to know my theory?… as'nake natural, organic yard. No chemicals, no toxins, no poison polluting up our little sanctuary.

Do you think these animals know that? They have a keen sense of… oh… just about everything.  Hmmm, do you think they’re telling us something…?

Safe, effective, chemical-free sunscreen: 2011 UPDATE!

sunscrnWell, it isn’t often that I have to make an update so soon… I just sent everyone to Environmental Working Group’s list and rating of sunscreen products… and it’s JUST been updated again for 2011!

We know the concern with sunscreen is the presence of some nasty chemicals (that part certainly doesn’t change) but, like our ever changing lives, products get changed too and I would be remiss if I didn’t share the latest findings with you…

So here… without further ado is THE latest listing: EWG’s 2011 List of Suncreens!  Maybe you want to head right over to their Best Suncreens list… and hope that what you’ve been using didn’t make their Hall of Shame!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program… get your BEST suncreen and GO PLAY!

MORE unregulated terms you should know about!

pest freeSo, I’m at it again… looking at labels and learning… a lot!

I’ve talked about the non-toxic labeling, fragrance-free vs. unscented, PLU produce labels and certified-organic vs. organic ingredients.

Now I have two more that you do need to know about:  “Pesticide-Free” and “Chlorine-Free”.

Maybe you’ll be surprised and maybe you won’t, but the reality is… NEITHER of these labels or terms mean a thing either.  They are undefined and, once again, completely unregulated.chlor free2

Like some of the other terms I mentioned, any manufacturer can place these words on their label to give you peace of mind about what you’re purchasing.  And ONCE AGAIN they can do it, just because the terms aren’t regulated.  That doesn’t mean that ALL products that use these terms aren’t legitimate, but the problems is it’s sometimes difficult to really know.

I can add a good note though… it just so happens that the term “Dolphin Safe” IS strictly defined, so when you see this terdolph safem, you can rest assured about your purchase!  As a life-long dolphin lover, I’m happy that this actually means something positive.

We have quite a list going, don’t we??? Maybe it’s time to break out a notepad, just to keep it straight since, sadly, we can’t always believe what the labels are attempting to tell us.