Organic. Look for the 9. I can’t find it. And why exactly would I want to?

by doodaddy on January 27, 2008

Where is the 9

Where is the 9, exactly?

I got this onion at the market today. I thought it was some kind of viral marketing, so obedient consumer that I am, I immediately Googled it with only one result.

Did you hear me? I Googled and got ONLY ONE RESULT!

Man alive, you can Google "spinach feta walrus dildo" and get 20 pages full of results — this actual printed sticker on my onion returns only one result?

And said page was quite frustrating, in that it implied that everybody who’s at all "green" knows about this mysterious 9 already, in which case, why isn’t it anywhere on the Internet? Am I the only one who thinks the whole thing smacks of Procter & Gamble being run by Satanists? There’s a "9" cult somewhere, and they’ve just been secretly instructed that their alien overlords are arriving in a week so they should stock up on onions or something.

So Google has failed me. Can anyone help?

Update on 1/28/2008: Sad to say, not only has this page been added to the Google results for “organic look for the 9, it’s actually replaced the page I’d found that at least said a little about it! So, if you arrived here looking for information about organic labeling — sorry. See what you can learn from the comments.

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in food,goofiness ·

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph January 27, 2008 at 11:44 am

A Google search of one…sounds like a new army commercial.

I did come across this, which seems to be good info to have and I would assume is what your cryptic onion was referring to


doodaddy January 27, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Right, that’s exactly the link I found, too. The question is where exactly would I look for the 9, the 8, or the 84011?


Violet January 27, 2008 at 12:46 pm

The “9” refers to the first digit of the PLU (product look-up number) that’s usually on a sticker attached to the produce or on a sign at the store.

If it’s not a 9, it’s not organic.


krista. January 27, 2008 at 1:29 pm

as the previous poster said, all organic produce has a PLU number that starts with a 9.


doodaddy January 27, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Ah, I see. Not at my store, it turns out — but anyway, it’s amazing that I was supposed to figure that out from that label!



Rattling the Kettle January 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm

You’ll have to let us know how many Google search hits you get for “Look For the 9” in the coming days.


Stephen January 27, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Look for the 9…it’s a sign!!!

Well, probably not. But we could probably start a conspiracy theory or something. That would be fun.


Ophelia Rising January 27, 2008 at 5:38 pm

They probably make it mysterious and ambiguous on purpose so that you spend countless nights pondering the question of the “9”, and then finally, in a burst of frustration and disgust, swear off organic altogether and buy the produce with the more explicit stickers, so that they can sell their genetically-modified, conventional produce to the masses, lining their pockets and cackling softly to themselves.

Or not.

(Okay, so I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist.)


HomeGrownLife January 27, 2008 at 7:03 pm

I am so very out of the loop! I too have never heard of this mysterious “9”. I will have to keep an eye out!


Kelley January 28, 2008 at 2:37 am

So you actually googled spinach feta walrus dildo?

I don’t care about the freaking onion, I just wanna know why you were googling that!!!

Oh and I had Krispy Kreme the other day and thought of you 😉


jessicab January 28, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Never heard of the 9, but thanks to commenters I now know secret.


doodaddy January 28, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Ooooh, I’ve always wanted to start a conspiracy theory! Snopes, I’m on my way!



Erica (Mom's Journal) January 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Are you sure it’s not a six? 😛 If you buy three onions at the same time you’ll pass into another dimension, open a vortex and demons will rule the earth.


hippiegrrl August 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I just found this post via a Google search.

I have pretty decent hippie credentials (vegan, live in a co-op in Northern California, eat primarily local organic food) and I was just as clueless as you. I think it’s safe to say that this marketing campaign is coming from corporate America (ie Dole). It doesn’t seem like a grassroots thing, at least.


doodaddy August 27, 2008 at 12:39 am

I know. I’m not quite so hippieish as you, I think, although I try to be, y’know, conscientious. And my conclusion is that they’re trying to make sure no one gets out of the store with an organic peach at inorganic prices, since EVERY SINGLE PIECE now has a sticker on it — and a sticker, I should add, that’s pretty hard to get off before eating or composting.



Scott December 22, 2009 at 6:02 am

Well, the site and comments definitely helped me. And this is close to two years since the initial posting…


doodaddy January 27, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Glad to know I’m still of *some* use!

Sharon May 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

May 2010, and you are still the only result for this dumb sticker! Thanks for the information – I learned something today.


J-Lo June 15, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Looking for Organic? Look for the 9!
If you want a surefire way to know that what you’re buying is in fact organic produce, check the sticker on the produce. Non-organic produce has a 4-digit number, whereas the organic produce number has five digits. And the organic produce number always starts with a 9. So look for the nines and know that you are buying organic.


Sarie November 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Nov 2010, you’re still the only ‘hit’ on google. Thx for confirming my suspicions re the plu/UPC code. 🙂


kim January 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I got this info from EHOW: so which is right? does 8 = organic or 9- organic???????

“Read the PLU labels. If the five digit PLU number starts with “8,” the food is either genetically modified or genetically engineered. Don’t buy it. Please note that all fruit has a four digit PLU code. This number tells you what kind of fruit it is. If the PLU code has five numbers, the first number represents either organic (8) or genetically modified (9).

Read more: How to Avoid Genetically Modified Fruits and Vegetables |


mike February 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Feb 2010 – I found the sticker on my bananas – they were organic. Still only one google hit!


Christopher Carfi July 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm

July 2011…still the top for this search. And we had one of the “Look for the 9” stickers on a pear from Safeway and had no clue what it meant.


steve November 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for the info!

On a lighter note, there is a “sport ” for looking for single google hit two word entries, it’s called googlewhacking, check it out.


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