Supermarket Survival Guide – Produce

by Kitchen Ladies


This is our first installment of the Supermarket Survival section for Coastal Kitchen. Recently we’ve been getting a lot of questions about smart shopping and how to navigate the aisles and shelves of the grocery store, how to decipher what products we should always buy organic and when we can reach for the generic brand.

Fruits and vegetables are a vital component to optimum health; therefore we decided to start with this section. In this day and age there are a lot of components to the farming industry that the average shopper is not privy to. The major predators to our produce are pesticides, chemicals and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Produce that falls in the GMO category is food whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques causing it to be more resistant to its natural environment.

What is scary is that currently there is no human research that has been done to verify that eating these organisms is safe, but the animal research conducted is extremely alarming. In a recent two-year study, rats that were fed either a diet of Monsanto’s (the agricultural biotechnology corporation that is the leading producer of genetically engineered seed) genetically modified maize sprayed with Roundup – the company’s brand of weed killer – or drank water with levels of Roundup similar to what is found in U.S. tap water, were much more likely to die at an earlier age and with additional health complications than other rats.(1) In addition to this, most research that is published in reputable scientific journals has to be pre-approved by Monsanto therefore holds a bias.(2)

Image generated by Kirsten Ferguson of Coastal Kitchen. To enlarge please double click

Image generated by Kirsten Ferguson of Coastal Kitchen. To enlarge please double click


Being on a very strict budget myself I understand the perils that many people face with health and finances. I love Whole Foods but I can’t justify walking out with one small bag that cost almost $100!

Because of my penny-pinching ways, I’ve done some research and the diagram above is where I draw the line between buying organic and non-organic. Produce under “Buy Non-Organic” is less likely to be GMO or have pesticide residue. Produce under “Buy Organic” is at a higher risk of GMO and pesticide residue. (3)

Money Saving Tip – Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: They are not only great for smoothies but also last for a long time so you won’t worry about them going bad. Frozen produce is also more micronutrient dense, due to being picked at the peak of ripeness and then frozen.

Print Non-Organic vs. Organic Here

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Decode your Food – 
How to find out what you’re eating by checking the PLU sticker.
You know those pesky stickers that you always have to scrape off your produce? Well, they can come in handy when deciphering whether your food came from a pesticide spray farm, an organic farm, or is a GMO organism. (4)

Organic Farms grown without chemicals and pesticides will have a five-digit code starting with a 9
Conventional Produce grown with chemicals and pesticides will have a four-digit code starting with a 3 or 4
GMO Organism grown unnaturally through genetic modification will have a five-digit number starting with an 8

Don’t let those fruits and veggies intimidate you next time you walk into the produce section!!

~ Kirsten

1. Scientific AmericanRat Study Sparks Furor over Genetically Modified Foods and CBS NewsStudy says genetically modified corn causes tumors, but other scientists skeptical about research
2. Global Research – GMO Scandal: The Long Term Effects of Genetically Modified Food on Humans
3/4. Rich Food Poor Food, Jayson Calton, PhD and Mira Calton, CN