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Reader Alleges: “I am very sad to tell you that the Yes! Organic market on 14th has been using signs to advertise some NON-organic produce as organic”

by Prince Of Petworth August 8, 2016 at 12:55 pm 123 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

“Yes! Organic on 14th & V Streets has been mislabeling ‘certain’ produce as “organic” that is NOT organic and has been charging double the prices.

Unfortunately, I am very sad to tell you that the Yes! Organic market has been using signs to advertise some NON-organic produce as organic. Organic food has a barcode that starts with the number 9. Conventional (non-organic) food has a barcode that starts with the number 4. For example, the fruit in the store was under a sign that says “Organic Watermelon” or “Organic Grapefruit” (see pictures) but I checked the barcodes and the oranges and watermelon all started with the number “4”. I noticed this on Saturday morning and alerted the people working there. I stayed to make sure they changed the signs for the fruit I had found. I did not check all of the fruit – only the watermelon, oranges and papaya. Every orange and every watermelon was not organic. The papaya was organic.

Almost every day, I stop by and pick up “organic” grapefruit for breakfast. I’ve been paying $2.00 for what I thought was “organic” grapefruit for the past six months (when I moved to a building above the store)! I took pictures of the signs and pictures of the barcodes. I was so upset.

The manager was out of town so I gave the employee I spoke with at the store my phone number and asked that the owner call me. The owner called within an hour and was very apologetic. He said this definitely should not have happened and he would be going to the store that day to talk to all the employees. He also said he would talk to the person who purchases produce for the store to make sure they purchase organic grapefruit. I explained that I eat “organic” grapefruit from there almost every day and was very upset that I had been spending $2.00 on what I thought was “organic” grapefruit only to discover it is covered in toxic pesticides and a GMO. At first, the owner said he was “happy to reimburse me for any food I had purchased that I later confirmed wasn’t organic.” Since I can’t travel back in time, he was obviously assuming that there was no way I could prove that a grapefruit I bought in March wasn’t organic. But I flipped it around and said “Great! Just show me the purchase orders for grapefruit for the past 6 months for the store on 14th Street and, if the purchase orders are in fact for organic grapefruit, then no need to reimburse me.”

He immediately got quiet and said he would reimburse me for all the grapefruit I had eaten. Bottom Line: once I discovered the error, the burden isn’t on me to prove the grapefruit THEY have been selling for the past 6 months wasn’t organic, the burden is on THEM to prove that it was organic. He said the store strives to have 95% of its products be organic and that corn and watermelon are generally the few produce items that normally wouldn’t be organic. It makes sense that they wouldn’t get organic corn or watermelon,** but seemed strange to me because that for the past month, there has been a sign that said “Organic watermelon on sale for $5.99”. If the store makes a conscious decision not to buy organic watermelon, then they should know not to put up a sign saying its organic.

A couple hours after we spoke on Saturday, I stopped by the store and picked up the gift cards he had left me. It’s my understanding that the owner immediately went to the store and talked to all the employees. I saw that they had moved the grapefruit to a different basket that is properly labeled as “conventional” and left the watermelon under the $5.99 sign (but the word “organic” is crossed out). While I appreciate that they took prompt action, some things that were said to me just don’t add up.



**FYI – almost all corn is GMO so that’s why corn is rarely organic and watermelon is generally considered the fruit that is the most safe to eat non-organic because the rind is very thick so it’s less likely pesticides will leak inside it (unlike strawberries, blueberries etc). It makes sense that they don’t have organic corn and would sell non-organic (“conventional”) watermelon but that still doesn’t explain why there has been an “organic” watermelon sign for the past 4 weeks.**”

  • hiphop anonymous

    I can’t wait for the day when the the biggest worry of the day is whether my oranges are *really* organic

    • Anon

      +1 Though to be honest I was ready to roll my eyes a bit, but after reading I kind of admire their passion and tenacity. I’m whatever about organic vs conventional, but it’s obnoxious they’re knowingly overcharging people

    • OP Anon

      Fraud is fraud. It’s akin to the gas station manipulating the gas pump so you get less than you thought. Or a shady car dealer rolling back the odometer.
      This is why Department of Weights and Measures in every state has the power to come down on a business with brimstone and fire. YES should get their ass handed to them. The OP is a saint.

    • jdegg

      If you are interested in getting ripped off by the organic food lobby, go for it.

    • Q

      Also, yo, if you’re that worried about the planet, why are you eating grapefruit in the summer?

    • stevefarfromdc

      This is like finding out you’ve been getting fake reiki therapy.

      • MademoisElleJ


  • Anon Spock

    Fyi, organic food still uses pesticides albeit natural ones but more of them than the synthetic variety because they’re less effective. They’re also less regulated.
    Don’t think you’re necessarily getting safer food because it costs double.

    Good on you for calling bs on mom’s though.

    • Rich

      It’s YES not MOMS. It could easily be Whole Foods which often has unproved produce and packaged goods.

      • Bullwinkle

        That and suspicious weights. But you know I’ve noticed so much more “conventional” produce in WF. So much so that I have to search for the “organic”.

    • smh

      I agree that products should be priced and labeled accurately.

      But if you really cared about the environment, you would not be eating grapefruit at all seasons anyway. It’s imported from who knows where (probably Florida or Texas in the winter and spring, and South Africa now). It would be much better to eat local apples in the cool months and local peaches or melons now. The carbon footprint of your breakfast outweighs any benefit of it being “organic.”

      • c

        it’s possible some people try to eat “organic” not to save the planet, but to simply eat healthier.

        • Anon

          What is healthier about organic?

    • jsauri

      Thanks you for saying that. I always get annoyed when people perpetuate the myth that organic = no pesticides.

  • CapitolHillHipHopHooray

    At first I laughed at this because I was in a ha, first world problems sort of mood, but as I read on I became very perturbed. I would like to thank OP for doing his/her due diligence on this front. I use organic Yes! (the one in E. Market) sparingly because of the high cost and mostly for fruit like apples and berries. I’m not a label snob, but I have a lot of friends who swear by organic and hey, it’s their money and budget, and if they think their health is at risk, who am I to judge. To have these people taken advantage of by price gouging for a bait and switch is repulsive. For OP to smartly ask to look at orders and to be instantly promised a refund instead like that just goes to know that the owner probably KNEW what he was doing and takes the 14th street clientele for rubes.

    Nice job OP and I will be more wary when shopping organic.

    • Anon

      Yes, agreed. Whatever you think about the merits of organic vs. not, stores should absolutely not be allowed to label non-organic produce as organic. People are willing to pay more to avoid pesticides, and this is fraud.

      • Jill

        It’s like labeling a knock-off as designer. A lot people don’t even care if their purse is designer, but that doesn’t mean the seller can claim the knock-off is designer and charge designer prices for it.

    • UStreeter

      My reaction as well. An initial eye roll at the OP for being “that person” but then very angry at Yes! for ripping people off. Agreed the owner probably knew based on reaction.

  • navyard

    Wow – good catch OP. and good for you on calling the manager out on this.

    People need to realize that this isn’t a debate for organic or non, GMO or no. This is 100% about a storekeeper trying to rip off its customers for profits. People think they are buying one thing, and they are sold something different.

    So I hope more people will look past the organic debate and move on to the unfairness of cheating customers.

  • Jan

    I totally agree that it is a big deal for a store to mislabel its products, but of all the ways a store could lie about what it is selling, this specific instance bothers me the least. The evidence of health or safety benefits from organic food is dubious at best.

    • wdc

      Yes, my thoughts exactly. Organic produce is a tax on the science-impaired, like the lottery is a tax on the mathematically-impaired. Well, more $$ for the public coffers, I guess, which might come in handy when we have to clean up all that “organic” Rotenone.

      • Mamasan

        Calling people who buy organic produce “science-impaired” is a little harsh, no? While the health benefits are unproven there are certainly measurable ecological benefits to organic farming. Some people buy organic because they believe it to be a better way of sourcing their food, regardless of nutritional differences or lack thereof.

        • wdc

          Errrr, no. Organic farming uses higher quantities of pesticides, just different “natural” ones, like Rotenone and pyrethrin. Rotenone particularly is HIGHLY toxic to fish, and its toxicity by weight to humans is several hundred-fold greater than some common synthetic pesticides.
          Also, organic farming is much lower-yield than conventional, due mainly to more effective pesticides (which can be used in smaller quantities), and synthetic fertilizers. Lower yield means you need more cleared land to produce the same amount of food, which leads to more soil erosion and habitat loss. I don’t know enough to opine on the balances, but I know that “pesticides = bad, organic = good” is silly.
          I think GMOs will probably save us in the long run, like the Green Revolution did India in the 60s. But it’s very convenient to disregard the science behind GMOs in favor of the flashier fear. Fear doesn’t require science, and science is hard.

          • NW_DC

            Nope! Not ‘science-impaired.’ From the studies I’ve read, organic farming can be just as high a yield as conventional. But we must be reading different peer-reviewed literature, right?

            As for GMO’s, lack of food isn’t what’s leading to hunger in the world. It’s inefficient distribution of food and the farming of cash crops (such as tobacco, which one can not eat). We can agree to disagree but please don’t tout your opinions on organic, GMO, conventional, etc., as fact.

          • wdc

            The most recent study that comes to mind (from a pro-organic source no less) was touting that best organic practices produced “only” 20% lower yield than conventional, which is a smaller gap than previously thought. Only 20% lower, in ideal conditions. And again, much higher pesticide use.
            Distribution IS a problem. We grow too much in some places, and not enough in others, and then we use dirty shipping to move it around the planet. GMOs will increase production in the places where the food is needed, even if those places are too wet, or too dry, or undergoing climate upheaval. Drought-resistant rice, for example, is going to save as many lives as Borlaug’s wheat did a generation ago.

        • anonona

          +1 and they care about the health of the people who harvest their crops

          • Colhi

            Actually, it’s not true that organic farmers care more about their workers. Some may but it’s certainly not connected in the way that people think it is. I have worked with large fruit/vegetable companies and they were all unionized and had good benefits for their workers. The organic farmers were small scale farmers that mainly hired day laborers and paid them horribly.

        • Shawz

          Calling people who insist on organic or non-GMO crops because they think they are healthier as “science-impaired” is a bit like calling people who dispute climate change as “science-impaired.” I.e., accurate.

          • Anon

            My girlfriend has seen doctors who advised her to eat organic. Are the doctors science-impaired? I’m skeptical but willing to conceded that they’re more knowledgeable about the subject than I am.

          • wdc

            No one can be knowledgable about everything. Some doctors are still recommending multivitamins, no matter how many studies have shown them to have no effect at best, and harmful effects at worst.
            They probably can’t figure out what’s going on with her, and are throwing things at the wall to see what sticks..

          • Anon X

            Yes. Simply being a doctor doesnt make you immune to being “science-impaired”. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of MDs who are borderline illiterate in the scientific process. Many of them have made quite a name of themselves peddling pseudo-science to the uneducated masses. From dietary supplements, to GMOs/organic, to anti-vax, fad diets and whacky compounded drugs.

            Yes, there are plenty of doctors who are not living up to their responsibilities.

          • Q

            Ben Carson doesn’t believe in evolution or climate change. So, yeah, doctors can be science-impaired.

      • oh2dc

        I think the science is mixed and not as clear as you present it. Some benefits are over-blown (i.e. marketing), but that doesn’t mean organic food is worthless. Meta-analyses of studies on milk, meat, and crops show increased amounts of beneficial compounds over conventional versions. However, to your point., studies also show organic produce is not consistently higher in levels of vitamins. Other studies also show organic farming yields are higher than conventional farming in drought conditions. On a non-scientific level, I think certain organic produce tastes better than conventional (especially apples), which means I am more likely to eat them and increase my consumption of fruits and vegetables, which is more nutritious.

    • Anon

      The issue for me is the huge price difference between organic and non-organic fruits, particularly at Yes where food is already overpriced. To me it’s like mislabeling fish. Yeah your palate maybe can’t tell the difference between tilapia and red snapper, but your wallet certainly can

      • Jill

        A lot of the items at Yes aren’t overpriced. Some are significantly cheaper than they would be at a conventional grocery store! I don’t buy into the organic hype but I have certain non-organic things that I go there specifically to buy.

        • tomindc

          What do they have that are significantly cheaper than Giant/Safeway/HT/Shoppers?

          • Jill

            Eggs, salmon, tofu, goat cheese. Certain produce (this varies from week to week), like containers of raspberries for 99 cents.

          • Jill

            The raspberries happened to be organic but I was buying them because of the price.

          • Cassie

            Some of their bulk nuts are half the price of Whole Foods’ bulk nuts.

          • tomindc

            Thanks for the list.

            I’m going to have to start browsing their sales flyers and weekly sales.

          • FridayGirl

            Watermelon is certainly not cheaper. I got a delicious, incredibly heavy one from Trader Joe’s for $3.99 last week.

          • Jill

            Yeah, but you had to go to Trader Joe’s to get it. ;)

          • JoDa

            Second the bulk foods recommendation. I’ve found them to be a great deal. I’ve heard Mom’s is even better, but without a car, that’s quite an ordeal for me.

          • Anon Spock

            Joda-d4 stops outside of mom’s if you’re anywhere near that bus route.

          • JoDa

            Unfortunately nowhere near a good place to catch the D4. I mean, it might be possible from work, but then I have to get home, and that requires a bus transfer which is always tricky. I have a nearby friend who shops there regularly (and drives), though, but we’ve just always missed connections a bit when she’s going. One of these days we’ll actually make a trip happen.

        • Anon

          I’d have to disagree (although I don’t eat salmon or much goat cheese so I can’t speak on it), especially concerning their boxed items. Their boxed items are significantly more expensive than Whole Foods. Whole Foods. Let me repeat that. They’re significantly more expensive than Whole Foods. The Amy’s Kitchen prices in particular were almost arbitrary, not to mention their baking supplies and cooking oils. When I lived in that neighborhood I completely avoided it even though it was a couple of blocks away from me and would’ve been really convenient

          • Jill

            You’re right about baking supplies. When I have to make an emergency sugar run I go to CVS because Yes only has tiny bags of expensive natural sugar.

          • Jill

            Adding to the above- I suspect Yes has special relationships with certain farms and local producers so that’s why those producers are priced lower.

      • NW_DC

        I’d be curious if the OP’s receipts actually showed that he/she was being charged for the organic produce. Usually a cashier will see the label # and type it in – withOUT the number 9 if there is no number 9 in front. Having the wrong sign (Trader Joe’s does that too sometimes) is very different than actually charging for the sign’s price – not the fruit’s.

        • Tsar of Truxton

          I had this same thought. That said, I was a cashier in high school (in the days before organic was big), and I had most of the codes memorized. I think now people use green bags v. clear bags to notify the cashier it is organic/conventional, so if they are using green bags, the cashiers may not look at the code (I don’t know if Yes! does this). I would honestly guess that people are more likely to be undercharged for organic than overcharged.

          • FridayGirl

            Wow, really? I have never seen both clear and green bags present in a store (at least near my produce) and did not know that was what was going on now…

          • stacksp

            Safeway uses clear and green bags to differentiate between organic and non organic. They cashiers do get quite upset when using the wrong bag

          • Anon

            I’ve never paid attention to this either. Whoops!

          • soozles

            Me neither. Major oops. Is that really true?

          • Tsar of Truxton

            FridayGirl, my guess is you probably don’t buy organic ;-). Usually, you can only find the green bags near the organic stuff (it may also only be a thing in places where most stuff is not organic, e.g., Safeway, Giant, etc.). I only know this because I grabbed one once when the dispenser was empty in the non-organic section, and I happened to notice that it said “organic” on the bag. Some places also have extra large bags for greens!

          • navyard

            Never knew this is a thing. pretty sure my Harris Teeter only has clear bags

          • msus

            The HT on Kalorama in Adams Morgan definitely has different bags for organic.

          • FridayGirl

            Tbh this bag color thing is way too complicated for me. Now I have to worry that I’m being charged more for my non-organic produce if I grab the wrong bag because the other dispensers are empty?! Good grief, I’ll stick with Trader Joe’s (and Whole Foods where I haven’t noticed yet that they color code the bags?)

  • FridayGirl

    So aside from personally thinking organic food is kind of silly, I actually am not particularly suprised about hearing this in regards to this Yes! Organic. I rarely go there but almost every single time I’m in the store (usually for one thing when I don’t want to stand in line at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) I either see things that are out-of-date, or get to the register only to have my item ring up as less than the sign on the shelf said. I’m not sure why people shop here.

  • Dognonymous

    So what you’re saying is that Yes did Benghazi. I knew it!!!

  • barry

    YES is a garbage store that only sells organic items sparingly, just like Whole Foods. If you want a good organic shopping experience go to MOMs.

    Also not to be snarky, but there is no such thing as GMO grapefruit. The varieties of grapefruit sold were created through the mutagenesis process. But that does not define them as GMOs. Your organic grapefruit are these same varieties, just grown using organic methods.

    Below is a list of all the GMO crops allowed to be sold in the US. Many of these were never commercially produced or are also no longer produced.

    Corn (20 varieties)
    Oilseed Rape/Canola (11 varieties)
    Cotton (11 varieties)
    Tomato (6 varieties)
    Potato (4 varieties)
    Soybean (3 varieties)
    Sugar Beet (3 varieties)
    Squash (2 varieties)

    • P. Lecheval

      There is no valid scientific evidence that GMOs are in any way harmful when consumed anyway.

      • anonona


      • country mouse

        Or evidence that they aren’t harmful. It’s anyone’s prerogative to take a risk or not. People who care whether I buy organic are getting emotional about the wrong things.

        • wdc

          It’s a logical impossibility to prove a negative.

        • Anon X

          I’m not emotional about it. I just quite a lot of respect for critical thinking ability.

      • JoDa

        This is true, but informing people that there are few approved GMOs is also hysteria-busting. I actually clicked on this to say the same thing: “your grapefruit were not GMO.” The hysteria often stems from a belief that everything conventional is genetically modified, and that’s simply not true. If you eat a largely whole-foods diet, you’re unlikely to encounter much that is GMO to begin with.
        To additionally put OP’s mind at ease, thick-skinned fruits are some of the safest with regard to pesticides, as well. They naturally repel pests (that skin) to some extent, and most people don’t eat the skin.
        What Yes was doing is still fraud and they should still be called out on it (at most stores, they type in the code from the label, so I find it especially concerning that the cashier would either ignore the label and type in the organic code or that the conventional was priced the same as the organic in the system), but this particular food item isn’t as “bad” as some others in terms of the reasons people choose organic over conventional (this does not constitute an endorsement of organic produce, I will remain silent on that matter, just putting the hard facts out there for *this* specific item).

    • NW_DC

      Eh, I’ve found plenty of organic produce there and shop at Yes regularly. It’s convenient and the produce is usually reasonably priced. Also – Mom’s is not nearby many of us.

    • victoria

      I love science; and this topic can bruise the best brain. GMO is complicated and pushes all the conspiracy buttons. But it is always amazing to see how many people with real knowledge respond to posts here! But also – I have way too much backyard organic produce to deal with at the moment.

    • pasque

      I came here to say something similar. Some people think all non-organic produce is GM. That’s simply not the case. Most fruits and vegetables are not GM and GM varieties of them have never been widely available. Which is a shame, because GM technology is totally harmless and one of the few effective tools we have for climate adaptation.

  • [rrrrr]

    I guess my question is if the produce was actually ringing up as Organic, or if there was still a price coded for conventional everything. Suppose it also depends on whether the cashier uses the bar code, the PLU on the sticker, or the little cheat sheet with all of them listed.
    I also don’t care about organic, gmo, etc. And its weird to me that the watermelons are fertilized with honey.

  • also anon

    It’s cool that you took action against a perceived wrong but the “holier than thou omg they killed me with pesticides on grapefruit” tone of this letter is really ridiculous. Also like others said if the cashier was using the 4 digit code (without the 9) on the sticker on the produce you weren’t even being overcharged to begin with.

    • Rich

      This is Greater DC—complaining and being “highminded” about it is a way of life. Good catch about the 4 digit code.

    • dunning-kruger

      I’m ambivalent about it. On the one hand, what you said. On the other hand if you don’t act like it is a big deal nothing will change. When a business misrepresents itself even on something smallish/unimportant as this they should be called out.
      Even if they weren’t being overcharged, they may have shopped there because of the “great deals” they were getting on organic produce.

  • Clean Fifteen

    Have you been eating the grapefruit rind? Because that’s the only reason you would need to worry about “toxic pesticides”.

    Even organic food proponents say it doesn’t matter with regard to that particular fruit https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean_fifteen_list.php

    • NW_DC

      Thanks! Love EWG

    • Katebobate

      After reading “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” I made the decision to buy organic whenever possible more for the farm workers than for myself. Even if I don’t eat the rinds of things – the environment and field workers are exposed to a lot of junk.

  • Shawn_Ust

    We love the Yes! on 14th & V and appreciate the store owners swift corrective action.

    Also thanks to the OP for the diligence – who knew organic produce stickers begin with ‘9’ ? Good to know going forward

    • Jill

      It’s a handy thing to know. A lot of times the signs are in the wrong place so it’s good to check the stickers.

  • dcd

    “Bottom Line: once I discovered the error, the burden isn’t on me to prove the grapefruit THEY have been selling for the past 6 months wasn’t organic, the burden is on THEM to prove that it was organic.”
    You position is that since you discovered a mislabeling on Day X, it is the store’s burden to prove that they DIDN’T mislabel the products for Day X – 6 months? Interesting theory. Care to support it?

    • topscallop

      Yes, this struck me as a bit over the top (as did all the dramatic and sorrowful language used in the post). I was surprised, but the fact that the manager was willing to reimburse the OP for six months of grapefruit suggests they know the mislabeling is a longer-term issue. Or they don’t keep purchase orders dating six months back…

      • Tsar of Truxton

        Or they are good at customer service and reimbursing $100-200 in grapefruit over the last few months is easier than fighting with a customer.

    • Anon Spock

      I’d like to find fault here, but consumers aren’t taking pictures of signs vs fruit stickers every time they shop nor should they. It’s very easy for the store to prove via sales records that they grapefruit was or was not organic.

      • dcd

        That’s probably true. It also is beside the point – OP really thinks that s/he is entitled to a refund of all produce she purchased for 6 months if the store can’t demonstrate that every single thing she purchased was organic? That simply isn’t the way that would work.

        Here’s a guess – OP’s a rising third-year law student who took a class in employment law last year, and has decided to apply McDonnell Douglas/Burdine in daily life. Am I close?

        • Anon Spock

          Unless I’m misreading things, the owner offered to reimburse for any actually non organic but labeled organic grapefruit that was purchased. I guess the ops response could be read as if 1 order wasn’t organic then you owe me for all the grapefruit purchased in the 6 months prior, but that isn’t what was offered.

        • Anon

          OP didn’t ask for refund on all produce or to see Purchase Orders for all produce – just for grapefruit. Seems like a justifiable response since time travel isn’t possible.

  • Andrew

    eye roll re OP

  • west_egg

    “what I thought was “organic” grapefruit only to discover it is covered in toxic pesticides and a GMO”
    Oh noes, the grapefruits are covered in a GMO!!!1one
    This, ladies & gents, is why rational people are against GMO labeling — not because we’ve all been bought by Monsanto but because the average consumer doesn’t even understand what it means. “Organic” barely means anything as it is. As others have pointed out, organic foods use pesticides, too–often in greater quantities than conventional farming.
    Scientific American has an interesting article on the topic: “Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture” (Christie Wilcox, July 18, 2011).

    • jim_ed

      Pffft, speak for yourself. I spent my Monsanto Bucks on this bitchin hot tub.

  • Shaw

    #FirstWorldProblems. Translation: “I live in a ridiculously overpriced building and have so much money that I have nothing better to do than spend it on fancy fruit. I was horrified to find out that I was being charged for high-end fruit when I may (or, as I openly admit, may NOT, ever, even once, since I stopped buying it the minute I first noticed the barcode issue) have been getting icky “normal” fruit!”
    What are you going to do when you realize the apartments on 14th Street aren’t actually made with solid silver faucets and gold plated light fixtures, yet you pay as if it was!?
    Nobody is “overcharging” you for organic vs non-organic, any more than Toyota is “overcharging” people for buying a Lexus ES330 instead of a Camry. It’s branding. You have an option to buy an expensive variant of a thing, or the cheaper version of the thing. If the little “L” falls off the back of your Lexus and you suddenly realize it’s really a Toyota under there, it’s on you for falling for the marketing that it was really that much better, not Toyota. There may be some quality differences, but for the most part, they’re the same. If you choose to pay more because somebody in a slick marketing office somewhere told you to, that’s your business.

    • Shawz

      I’ll also note that the OP had apparently been loving these grapefruit so much that they had been buying them for months without ever noticing (from, for example, the taste) that they were not organic. I’ve always suspected that most of the benefits of organic are placebo-based.

      • NW_DC

        I find that organic apples are much tastier. I would be up for partaking in a double blind experiment though.

        • Anon

          May I suggest a weekend trip to Maryland? Organic or not, the local orchards are the best outside of Washington state

          • neighbor

            incorrect. that honor goes to any orchard in new england.

          • Anon


          • Anon

            Lies. The lot of ya

      • Brooklyn Brawler

        +1000 to Shawz & Shaw

      • SaraEP

        +1 lol to all of this. There really is nothing more nauseating than reading “NOPE! I’m right and you’re wrong” battles regarding organic produce. I feel like this is how eating healthy became considered “elitist”.

      • Original Poster

        If an entire country banned a particular car because it was unsafe and if two states in the United States banned that car as unsafe, I would hope you wouldn’t buy that car to drive your kids around Please see my explanation below about the use of Red Dye being linked to cancer and other medical issues. It’s so serious that both California and Arizona have banned spraying Red Dye on all crops (not just organic) and its banned in the UK. This isn’t a theory I came up with out of the blue. Conventional Ruby Red grapefruit from Florida is sprayed with Red Dye. So, if given the choice, I will chose to pay extra to eat organic grapefruit and oranges. I don’t have a car and certainly wouldn’t waste money on a Lexus. For many years, cigarette companies said smoking was healthy and even had ads saying “doctor recommended” and “X brand of cigarette is preferred by more doctors”. Kraft, Dole etc have just as great a stake and influence in the food industry and are lable to spend billions on studies saying it’s fine to eat Red Dye or whatever other toxin they are using. If you want to believe it, that’s totally cool. I don’t believe it. I put my trust in the scientific studies from independent and accredited organizations that have no reason to lie.

    • victoria

      Logic failure. The issue is actually simple. Item A costs $1.00. Item B costs $2.00. Item B is advertised as being whatever thing you are willing to pay more for, for whatever reason. But then you discover that item B is not actually that thing you were willing to pay more for. The question is not whether item A or B is better. It is about deception.

  • Anon

    I agree with others – the poster is a saint for catching this and following through. Also, very smart to ask about purchase orders. Whether you care or don’t care about eating organic, a store that changes a label on produce could also change a “sell by” date too. Fortunately, it sounds like the owner of the store took the incident quite seriously! Glad the poster followed through and hopefully it doesn’t happen again.

  • Anon X

    the GMO/organic thing has been pretty roundly disputed on this thread…. And, the truth is, you can believe what you want (much like Donald Trump and his acolytes) but that doesnt change the peer reviewed scientific evidence pointing toward there being no evidence of harm. If youre going to buy into the conspiracy theories about the research community then you might as well be anti-vax too because its all part of the same movement.

    but you know whats not a ripoff? Locally grown, in season, fruits and veggies. They were harvested later in their growth cycle, often harvested more recently to when you make your purchase, and support people in your region. The taste and quality is almost always superior to what you get from large grocery chains. Sometimes its organic, sometimes its non-GMO, but its nearly 100% of the time a superior tasting product.

  • Original Poster

    At Yes! the cashiers have a binder that says what each item should cost and I have always paid $2.00. I totally understand that eating “organic” is not important to everyone. I respect that. But some people who have had cancer, or have a higher propensity to get cancer or have a suppressed immune system, etc. want to avoid eating Red Dye, which is sprayed on non-organic oranges and non-organic grapefruit. It has been shown to cause cancer and is banned completely from being sprayed on all crops in California and Arizona (including “conventional” crops) because the scientific data shows it causes tumors and other ailments (such as ADHD). It’s also banned in the UK so it’s not something I randomly decided without a lot of thoughtful research. I know that smoking causes cancer, so I don’t smoke. I know that eating Red Dye causes cancer and other ailments so, if I’m in a position to buy organic and avoid eating fruit sprayed with red dye, I will spend the extra money. That’s my choice and what I think is best for my health. Totally understand if it’s not everyone’s concern and am not trying to change anyone’s thinking. I haven’t taken a vacation in 5 years. Everyone spends money differently. I’m lucky to have never had cancer and my family is thankfully healthy, but so many people I love have gotten cancer at a young age. I choose to limit my intake of red dye and other cancer causing products as much as possible. When you eat a conventional (non-organic) orange, you will notice your hands look orange or yellowish afterward – that’s the Red dye that’s coming off from the orange. I had noticed this yellow/red dye on my hands after I would eat the “organic” Ruby Red grapefruit and thought it was strange. (I typically peel a grapefruit with my hands like I would peel an orange and rarely use a knife to peel away the rind.) People have a right to know if they are eating a “orange” that is a GMO and isn’t actually orange colored. If they aren’t bothered, that’s totally cool! I appreciate that buying organic food is not an option for everyone. I also know that there are other people who do want to eat organic and people who have compromised immune systems who feel they have to avoid toxins. For those people who care about eating organic, maybe they will start check the label at whatever store they shop at. The owner at Yes! Organic could not have been any nicer so I’m very hopeful this won’t happen again.

    • Evan Tupac Grooter

      “To date, no conclusive evidence has been found to show that food coloring causes ADHD.”

      • Anon

        I don’t get this. Okay, you don’t think food coloring is an issue, so you should put that in your body. Good for you; you saved a dollar.
        But why on earth do you care if OP puts that in his/her body? OP could be eating organic bc she thinks her cat told her that if she eats 723 organic grapefruit she will be able to fly to the moon. What diff is it to you? The point is s/he was being overcharged bc a product was mislabeled, which is fraud.
        Also, as an adult with ADD who charged through life for 3 decades without paying much attention to what I put on my body, I will say that I was freaking shocked at the effect of minor dietary changes once I started paying attention.

    • Anon X

      Red dye may have been linked to cancer, almost certainly in doses so high they are difficult to achieve by eating a couple oranges (even daily). Why does the FDA not ban it? Since as you point out states and Europe have…

      And, while you had a detailed case against dyes, you just lumped in GMOs at the end as if one was dangerous the other is dangerous. There is 0 valid scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful. 0! It doesn’t mean that GMOs aren’t harmful it’s just that with the substantial scrutiny they’re under- no link to adverse events can be found. That’s significant. Especially since the anti-gmo crowd is so certain they’re harmful but has no evidence to back it up.

      GMOs are also banned in Europe. Europe is the continent still full of smokers.

      Perhaps we should follow Europe on health benefit design and not so much on toxic substance control??

      • lizcolleena

        I agree that lumping in red dye and GMOs is misleading, but I think the question of why the FDA doesn’t ban something is so much more complex than you’re acknowledging. Just because the FDA hasn’t banned something doesn’t mean it’s safe. It could mean the evidence is inconclusive or it could mean lobbyists have been successful in convincing the FDA it’s not that harmful or it could mean many other things.

        Also, FWIW, I googled cancare rates US v Europe because I assumed they were higher here and thought that could speak against your point. But I was wrong. Cancer rates in several European countries are definitely higher than in the US and we’re all kind of in the middle of the pack.

      • The FDA doesn’t actually show that something is safe or dangerous. “Companies that want to add new additives to food bear the responsibility of providing FDA with information demonstrating that the additives are safe.” It’s actually seriously messed up. A company petitions to have an additive approved by submitting research, FDA scientists don’t find any issues, additive is approved. It’s really, really hard to ban something that was found to be “safe”.


  • L.

    “I am very sad to tell you that the Yes! Organic market on 14th has been using signs to advertise some NON-organic produce as organic”

    Oh CHRIST NO!!!

    • FridayGirl

      I mean, as someone mentioned at the top, whether it sounds trivial or not, charging a customer for a product the customer is not getting is fraud when it comes down to it.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Agreed. There may have been fraud, or somebody may have quite simply screwed up, but in any event, whether organic sh!t is actually better than regular sh!t is irrelevant to the question at hand here.

  • been here long time

    I’m not surprised by this. At the 14th Street Yes, I used to look for organic almonds in the bulk bins. They never had them. Then they went on sale, and instead of conventional almonds, the bin now was labeled with organic almonds at the advertised sale price. I questioned them, and they could not convince me that for this month, and this month only, that same bin had organic almonds. I believe they changed the label on the conventional almonds to organic for the sale.

    That said, I always check the label for the 9 at Yes! and at WFs. MOMs Market produce is all organic and doesn’t need checking.

    Also, on organic vs conventional food – I was diagnosed with RA in 2009. I treat it with diet (mostly veggie, little meat, wild cold water fish). When I eat conventional produce my joints hurt. It must be that my body is sensitive to synthetic pesticides. But it’s organic for me or one of those horrible drugs advertised on TV that reduces your immune system.

  • NRVS

    Can the original poster outline the health effects he or she experienced after ingesting the mislabeled grapefruit?

  • JakeOnDC

    Not surprising, I always thought them to be a bit shady back when they only had one store in Adams Morgan.. profit driven it seems.. conscious consumer’s rock


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