Letters to the editor, October 2004

This article was originally published in October 2004

Change in organic labels

Today at Redmond’s farmer’s market, an organic grower showed me a new label that a USDA inspector demanded three weeks ago be used instead of his current labels on his pre-printed boxes. His current labels and boxes say:

Grown in accordance with California Food Act of 1990
WSDA Certified Organic
Washington grown
Shipped by Inaba Farms, Wapato, WA

The new labels (which pre-empt the above) say USDA Organic and nothing else. This sounds to me like a wipeout of labeling info rights that we fought hard to get a very few years ago. So this evening I’ve been combing through the Sound Consumer, “Biodemocracy” emails and Organic Trade Association Web site — and am not seeing word one about this. Why isn’t it anywhere — let alone in headlines? Has the USDA snuck it through so quietly that the farmers actually are the first to hear about it at all?
— Olemara Peters, Kirkland

Goldie Caughlan, nutrition education manager and a member of the National Organic Standards Board replies: The label “Grown in accordance with the California Organic Food Act of l990” is totally meaningless. The California Organic Food Act of 1990 never was a third-party certified program and, therefore, was inferior to the Washington State Department of Agriculture certification even before the Feds came to supersede it all with the current national program.

Washington state is now certifying to the USDA regulations — that’s what everyone must do to level the playing field and have a transparent one-place-to-go-to rule.

Where’s News Bites?

Starting with the July, and then again in August, the PCC Sound Consumer is missing the regular section, News Bites. I hope your plans are to bring this back! -— David Luxem, Seattle

Editor replies: Several other readers also sent letters and emails wondering where News Bites went. You may have noticed they were back in September’s issue, being absent in July and August only because those summer issues were 12 pages instead of the usual 16 to accommodate summer vacations. In the future, we may wish to keep News Bites even in the summer and trim elsewhere. Thanks to all who have written in about missing this feature. I view it as a mainstay of the Sound Consumer.

A recipe needing polenta

The recipe for the polenta cake sounded good, so I wanted to try it. However, the only polenta I could find at the Greenlake PCC was the one in plastic that was already mixed with tomato and spices. I doubt if that was what was wanted in the recipe, but I tried it anyway. It came out okay, but a little too moist — it wouldn’t hold together when cut. And you could taste the weird aftertaste of the spices. I think the dry polenta would be better. Would cornmeal work as well? I think if the PCC offers a recipe, you should carry the ingredients in the store.
— Diana Smith

Editor: I’m so sorry your polenta cake didn’t turn out the way you hoped. The recipe really is delicious, but you’re right, you need to use dry polenta. PCC does sell organic dry polenta and organic cornmeal — the difference is in the texture of the grind. You can find both at all PCC stores in the bulk section.

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