Letters to the editor, August 2005
This article was originally published in August 2005
Help for health
PCC Natural Markets are known throughout the nation as a tribute to health. This requires a lot of dedication from its employees to guide members to make their health better. The employees I’ve spent time with on the phone or in person are receptive to my own health concerns. These include Goldie Caughlan and, at PCC Kirkland, Mike Germundson, Roxanne Green and Brian Kiehn.
Numerous articles by Goldie over the years have been beneficial to my well-being. I have saved most of her articles in the Sound Consumer and look forward to when the paper arrives! She’s a well-educated woman with much to share.
Mike is inspiring with his knowledge of product information, along with his knowledge of vitamin supplements. Most of the time I can’t keep up with his advanced knowledge of herbs. Roxanne has guided me with beauty aids, vitamins, toothpaste, deodorant, teas, soaps, arnica creams, allergy relief and more! She really deserves applause. Her knowledge of fragrance-free products has made my skin and hair allergy-free.
Brian has helped me learn about the herb milk thistle. When I made an appointment with a naturopath, milk thistle was suggested. My liver count (had) soared because I was using the elliptical trainer in the fitness center and I understand it’s very hard on your organs. I quit using this machine and started using milk thistle, so now my liver count is normal.
I really like shopping at PCC. It has great employees and has helped make Seattle a haven for health.
— Mary L. Swirsky
I’ve been a member for 2 1/2 years and I’m particularly impressed with the commitment to the environment displayed by the choices of building materials for the new PCC in Fremont. However, as I was shopping yesterday, I had to wonder why your environmental commitment stops at the walls? In the produce section, I found apples from New Zealand and Argentina, as well as lovely Washington-grown Fujis and Cameos.
Why on earth is PCC importing apples from the other side of the globe — at a huge environmental cost in terms of greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution produced by burning fossil fuels? I would much rather see a smaller selection of apples in the spring, coupled with a concerted education effort to let consumers know why PCC isn’t stocking out-of-season produce. I look for the “Grown in Washington” sign before I buy ANY produce. If it means a more limited diet in certain seasons, so be it. The earth is worth it.
— Bobbi Dykema Katsanis, Seattle
PCC Produce Merchandiser, Joe Hardiman, replies: PCC buys only Washington-grown organic apples in season. When you wrote, the Washington Fujis and Cameos you refer to were the last quality apples out of storage from the fall harvest. We offered them as long as we could, but we were running out. Since many of our members demand quality organic apples in the Gala, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Fuji varieties year-round, we had no choice but to import product.
Your conviction to purchase only local produce and accept the limitations of the off-season is laudable. It’s why we write and talk about the value of buying local and eating seasonally as much as we do and the reason that buying from local farmers continues to be PCC’s highest priority. The first Washington organic apples, the Galas, will be picked in late August and we’ll have them in our store right away.
Packaging and petroleum
I am intrigued by the co-op’s use of cellophane bags to package PCC label bulk food. According to information provided by co-op staff, the bags are made from cornstarch. I like them because they’re reusable, clear, easily biodegradable, are made with CO2-consuming crops, and especially because they are NOT a petroleum product as are plastic bags. Unfortunately I’m also informed that the co-op will discontinue the bags because they are made with GM corn.
An important question arises from this situation, namely, what is the co-op’s policy regarding conflicting ideals, in this case petroleum product reduction vs. avoidance of genetically modified products? I favor continuing with cellophane bags, expanding and promoting their use while pressuring the manufacturer to seek a non-GM corn source or finding a non-GM bag provider.
Plastic bags will always be petroleum-based while cellophane bags are a great alternative and could easily, perhaps even cost-effectively, be made with non-GM corn. Also, the bags are not “food” so some of the objection to GM resources is lowered. Let’s give petroleum alternatives a chance and proceed with cellophane.
— Evan A. Sugden
Editor: It’s not correct that PCC will discontinue these cellophane bags. In fact, these bags aren’t made from corn at all, but rather are a wood-based cellulose product. I’m glad for the opportunity to clear this up.
Your query about conflicting ideals is nonetheless important. PCC weighs each situation one at a time. The pros and cons of packaging made from genetically engineered (GE) corn have come up with some new cornstarch-based containers and cutlery.
Corn is the most heavily petroleum-intensive crop of all, except for cotton, using huge amounts of oil-based fertilizers, pesticides and fuel for machinery to till, plant, spray, harvest, transport, manufacture into packages, then transport again. Also, when the stubble of GE corn gets tilled under, the GE traits don’t readily break down but instead build up in the soil. A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.