Letters to the editor, November 2003

This article was originally published in November 2003

The book is great

I bought In Praise of Fertile Land at PCC a few days ago and want to congratulate everyone involved for producing such a lovely anthology straight from the heartland. I am savoring the experience of reading it, making my way through a few delectable pages each night at bedtime … What a treat! Makes me proud to be a co-op shopper.
— Kitty Harmon

Editor’s note: Ms. Harmon is the founder of Northwest BookFest, Seattle’s annual literary arts festival (see www.nwbookfest.org).

Grocery bags

In response to people writing about plastic vs. paper bags, I have the perfect answer. I use heavy cloth bags. They are easy to make for people who sew, or can be bought. I’ve seen them at PCC and other stores sell them, too. When they get soiled, I toss them in the washer.
— Kathy Nielsen, Renton

Editor: Thanks for the reminder to other shoppers, Kathy. PCC sells durable and washable canvas bags that reliably carry a load of heavy groceries. They’re especially good for keeping chilled and frozen items cool, as they seem to insulate better than paper or plastic. They’re the most environmentally friendly solution compared to plastic or paper. I’ve had some for years and they show little wear. When you bring your own shopping bag to PCC, the co-op donates two cents per bag — one cent to the Cash for the Hungry program and one cent to the Farmland Fund. Proceeds from purchase of the Farmland Fund canvas bag go solely to that fund.

Pesticide residues

I was reading the info from the Sound Consumer on pesticides (in food) and it was pretty well written, except I didn’t seem to notice any mention of what “acceptable” limits might be for pesticide exposure and how close (above limits, below, right at, etc.) the different foods come to those levels. Also, I would like to know how and who determines what “safe” levels are.
— Ruth Raish, Member

Editor: Currently, there are no national guidelines to provide a benchmark for safety. There’s no known acceptable limit for pesticide exposure from food and the health risks posed by chronic, low level exposures are unknown. The results of a UW study, however, do support the idea that organic diets can significantly reduce exposure to pesticides. Learn more about pesticides and your diet by reading “The Organic Advantage: A Landmark UW Study,” published in the June 2003 edition of PCC’s Sound Consumer. You’ll find this article at www.pccnatural markets.com in our Sound Consumer archives.

Genetically engineered food

GMO food is everywhere in the U.S.A. Agribusiness assures us that genetically engineered (GE) food is the best thing since the advent of chemical farming. (Did you hear the EPA issue a warning three years ago that no one should drink ANY untreated ground water from the whole Midwest because it is all contaminated with pesticides “beyond levels fit for human consumption?”) No need to get excited though — there was no terrorism involved, just bad science, poor engineering, lack of foresight, and consumer apathy.

That is changing now. Many people are realizing we can learn from the mistakes of the past and stop them from happening again. But as this new awareness is rising, the old forces who have caused so much damage to the world are trying to shove this untested technology down our throats in the same reckless manner that they polluted the entire Midwestern groundwater supply.

GMOs are a threat to clean, organic food. Likewise, organics are a threat to the GE industry.

Put yourself in the mind of a board member or executive of one of these GE companies. You must protect your stockholders interests. If more and more people switch to organics, your company will lose money. So the organic industry must be destroyed, halted or marginalized. If you cannot do it with propaganda then you make it impossible to grow (canola in Canada) or with deceit (the assault against GE labeling laws) or with trade lawsuits (as with the WTO against the European Union).

I would like to see the PCC board and executive leadership take this same aggressive stance in defense of the interests of the PCC members and shoppers. I know you are working toward this end, but I urge you to create a company policy that will make a plan for phase-out and eventual elimination of all GE and GE-contaminated products from PCC shelves in no longer than five years, preferably less. This issue is coming to an apex.

Now is the time to take a more aggressive offense against those who threaten the organic standards we fought so hard to win and to grow the organic industry.
— Mark Holland

Editor: Right now, without mandatory labels, we don’t know what foods are or aren’t GE — except for certified organic, which prohibits GE ingredients. That’s why PCC supports legislation for mandatory labels.

Bulk labels

I looked and looked for organic walnuts in the bulk bins at the Greenlake store. Why couldn’t I find them? They’re always in the lower section.

Then I realized what has happened —the walnut bin has a fancy new label. Only one problem, the font size is so small that you can’t see “Organic Walnuts” from farther than a couple of feet. Please fix the font size to be as big as the previously just fine labels that have not all had the wonderful “branding” experience yet.
— Ed Waldock

Editor : The old bulk bins are no longer available and the new bins have less space for labels. There’s less room to print required nutritional information and ingredients. But there’s a simple way to find what you’re looking for: scan the products visually, and when you see what you want, just look for the green sign that indicates a product is organic. (The word organic is printed above the product name.) Yellow signs are used on non-organic foods.

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