Letters to the editor, March 2001

This article was originally published in March 2001

Ravenna PCC closing

Dear Editor:

The Ravenna PCC, after one year of competing with its rival Whole Foods, has closed. This store has served this community for 30 plus years and is one of the main reasons I live in Ravenna. As a consumer and a neighbor, I question my own actions that contributed to this dilemma.

I confess. I partook in the delectable table of Whole Foods’ deli. I reveled in the numerous options on those nights I didn’t want to cook. However, it did not take long before the lack of community became apparent. I also noticed there was little effort to educate the consumer about organic foods, the protection of local farmland, or the need to support local growers. My visits ebbed.

To know my dollars were supporting the local community was, by far, more meaningful than having a deli … hosting a variety of gastronomical delights. As a member of PCC, I sadly received the letter from the main office informing us of their decision to close Ravenna … Clearly, I had not been alone in my visits to Whole Foods. My actions, no matter how minute, conveyed a message I had not intended.

This type of change appears to be sweeping over Seattle… How do I, we, maintain that part of Seattle that is comprised of quaint, community stores? How do we assist these stores to remain competitive in today’s market? As consumers, our choices are pivotal to the process …

The reality is Whole Foods might expand into other enclaves. From one concerned neighbor to another, we must be clear about who and what we support. The choice is ours. Let us support the neighborhood stores that grew out of our conscious actions and not succumb to our cultural, quick-fix mentality.

Seattle’s neighborhood co-ops provide the city with charm as well as an opportunity for conscious shopping. They now need our assistance with both our dollars and ideas in order to pass into the new millennium. Let us work together to support that which has heart and meaning. Each and every one of us makes the difference.

Tracey P. Stover, member

Gene Kahn’s opinion piece

Dear Editor:

Apparently Gene Kahn (“Wake-up Call,” a.k.a. Gene Kahn’s opinion piece) is just thrilled that his organic foods company Small Planet was bought out by mega-corporation General Mills — but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should be!

Come on, Gene! Do you really believe General Mills will never “change anything” about Small Planet? I don’t! My experience with big corporate buy-outs (both as an employee and as a consumer) is that the language at first is all conciliatory, but sooner or later the big managers decide they know better than the local people how to run things. And since the motivation for the big managers is profit (not environmental and social values), who knows where a subsidiary like Small Planet might end up.

Besides, even if for the sake of argument we assume that General Mills won’t change Small Planet, how can we possibly feel good about an organic brand we all care about being owned by a company that also pushes junk food like Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms on kids?? And what about the fact that General Mills supports GM (genetically modified) foods? Yikes!! This isn’t my idea of successful “mainstreaming!”

Just think if the Gene Kahn of 1972 believed the things that the Gene Kahn of today is saying, things like: “challenging [consolidation] is futile”. Thirty years ago, conventional wisdom would have held that trying to change American food habits away from Wonder Bread and Velveeta would be impossible.

Conventional wisdom would also have held that bucking the trend towards chemically based agriculture was folly. Yet in spite of all that, the Gene Kahn of 1972 believed in a better way, had the courage to work for it and succeeded against the odds!

It’s too bad the Gene Kahn of today seems to have lost his conviction, but thankfully &#8212 as the 50,000-person strong WTO protest showed &#8212 there are many, many people who still want to fight corporate consolidation. Perhaps together we CAN create an alternative to big mega-corporations taking over our food supply.

I know I for one am going to keep on trying. I only hope Gene Kahn will wake up out of that cozy corporate mindset and join us.

Marina Skumanich, member since 1989

Sound Consumer

Dear Editor:

Thank you for this latest issue of the Sound Consumer. As a long-time PCC member (since 1976) I see the renewed focus on the “politics of food” as a return to PCC’s roots. There was a time when I used to read the Sound Consumer cover-to-cover the day it arrived, because I would learn new things from thoughtful analyses of the issues surrounding our food supply. For instance, it was in the Sound Consumer that I first learned of genetically modified foods. In recent years the newspaper seemed to focus more on recipes and entertainment. While I’ve certainly used recipes printed in the Sound Consumer, I found myself flipping quickly through the newspaper and tossing it into the recycling bin because it contained little “food for thought.”

February’s issue was a welcome change. Stories on organic standards, the new USDA chief, “Ask Goldie” on genetically modified foods, and the Farmland Fund and food security &#8212 that’s more like it! Even the banana article contained information on pesticides and fair trade instead of mindlessly celebrating bananas as a great-tasting food. Keep it up!

– Carolee Colter

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