Some Great Mysteries of Fruit Stickers, Revealed

Fruit stickers, as seen in a real-life setting.
Fruit stickers, as seen in a real-life setting. Photo: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Over at WNYC’s “All Things Considered,” host Amy Eddings takes a look at the often vexing and certainly growing multitude of tiny, colorful stickers affixed to fresh produce. It used to just be bananas, she notes, which was fine, but now there are stickers on things like tomatoes and kiwis. After some kitchen-sink-centered investigative journalism, Eddings learns what anyone who has ever worked a grocery store checkout aisle might already know: The stickers’ PLU numbers are a worldwide standard, and any five-digit label number starting with 8 means the fruit you’re holding is genetically modified; any five-digit PLU starting with 9 means it’s organic. Manufacturers often don’t use the five-digit system, however, because they don’t have to. One consumer-oriented sticker lookup site even has a search bar that replaces Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” with the downright more appropriate “I’m feeling fruity!” [WNYC]