Letters to the editor, September 2005

This article was originally published in September 2005

Offshore fish farming

Re: (the Sound Consumer article “Offshore fish farming: the selling of common waters”) the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2005, introduced in the U.S. Senate as S.1195 on June 8, proposing expansion of offshore fish farming.

Allowing salmon farmers to set up shop in the 200-mile offshore U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is unacceptable. It’s amazing that this legislation is sanctioned by the Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Elected officials and government agencies are supposed to protect the public and our environment.

The aquaculture industry has the technology to operate responsibly. Salmon can and should be farmed on land, in closed containers. But closed-system technology would cut into corporate profits.

Meanwhile, salmon farmers continue to get away with raising salmon in open net-cage pens (in public waters offshore). Feces, uneaten fish-feed containing dye, antibiotics and pesticides flow directly into the marine environment. Farmed salmon escape from their pens often by the thousands and pose serious danger to the existence of wild salmon.

Infractions, when caught by enforcers, may result in regulatory fines or, more seriously, shutdowns. But in reality these punitive slaps mean little or nothing compared to horrible environmental consequences that are often irreversible.

Concerned citizens should contact their representatives. Insist they act to protect us and our environment from pollution-for-profit businesses. The aquaculture industry must be held to environmental standards that are measurable and enforceable. Insist that the aquaculture industry convert to closed-system methods.
— Nadine LaPira-Wolos

Editor: To learn more about the plan to expand offshore fish farming and the selling of common waters, see Offshore fish farming — The selling of common waters, Sound Consumer, April 2005. To write your state representative and senator, visit www.leg.wa.gov for names and addresses.

Imported fruit

I write in response to the letter from Bobbi Dykema Kaatsanis (that) PCC should not have fruit that has to be transported long distances.

I agree with her concern about environmental destruction and global warming. I have children and grandchildren. I am fanatical about reduce/re-use/recycle and I ride the bus. But I must have New Zealand kiwi fruit and apples. If they are not in stock, I wait for them. We know that kiwi fruit is at the top, nutritionally. I am grateful that they are available at PCC.

Many years ago New Zealand informed the United States (that it would) not play in war games. New Zealand is a nuclear-free zone. When last I was there, every fourth or fifth car had a Greenpeace sticker. There are no big cars.

Hey people! Enjoy New Zealand fruit. It is the finest!
— Imogene Williams

PCC Producer Merchandiser Joe Hardiman replies: PCC sources kiwi from California from November through June. When U.S. kiwi is out of season, we offer New Zealand kiwi.

Nutritional info in the deli?

I’m wondering if anytime soon the nutritional values/profiles of PCC-made baked goods (especially scones and muffins) will be made available? It seems that this would be consistent with the health conscious orientation of the organization. Thanks,
— Bill Burke, Woodinville

PCC Deli Merchandiser Jan Thompson replies: The delis are working on nutritional profiles for deli-made foods, one by one. Our software program doesn’t automatically convert the information, so we have to do it manually. Let me know which muffin you want profiled and I’ll be glad to send you the info.

Plastic packaging

I am worried about the trend to package more and more of our foods in plastic. It is known that leaching takes place in water bottles in plastics. How much more would take place with acidic foods packaged in these plastics? I will never buy any foods packaged this way. Too many red flags. These chemicals are known to be associated with cancer and hormonal issues. We eat organic foods, so why would we take in poison that could potentially kill us? I hope PCC will be discussing and will be responsible in this matter.
— John Reif, Maple Valley

Former PCC Director of Merchandising Paul Schmidt replies: PCC also is concerned about the health risks of plastics and all our buyers are working hard to find alternatives. Keep in mind that customers want to see the food in our stores, so the packaging must be see-through. Except for glass, that means plastic, so far.

Our deli department, however, is looking into a line of corn-based packaging that’s not made from genetically engineered corn. Our meat department can wrap your meats in butcher paper, if you make advance arrangements. Whole fruits and vegetables come in their own natural “packaging,” but for those you want to bag, choose paper instead of plastic bags offered in the produce department, reuse your own paper bags, or don’t use any bag and ask the cashier to pack your produce, wet and dry, into a sturdy canvas bag.

Paper, plastic and cloth bags

I have been following with interest the conversation about paper, plastic, and reusable bags in Sound Consumer. I’ve used reusable canvas bags for years. I use them everywhere I go, not just PCC (Who cares if someone gives you a funny look? You’re doing the right thing!) However, it seems that even PCC cashiers and baggers are not always entirely receptive. Instead of asking “paper or plastic?,” maybe they should be trained to ask “Did you bring your own bags today?”

PCC could also help the cause of sustainability in the grocery bag department by pressuring its bag supplier to seek and obtain certification. The Forest Stewardship Council is an internationally recognized, impartial certifier of sustainable forestry practices. PCC is a large customer of Weyerhaeuser’s. With pressure from PCC, Weyerhaeuser could be induced to pay for the FSC to give its forests a two-week inspection, followed by criteria needing to be met to achieve FSC certification. PCC could go one better and band together with other large buyers of Weyerhaeuser products.

If IKEA and Home Depot can be induced to offer certified forest products (which they do; they also pressure their suppliers to do so), so can PCC.
— Bobbi Dykema Katsanis, Wallingford

Many months ago you published an article in the Sound Consumer about the shopping bag issue. The statistics you cited in the article are shocking. You quoted Paul Schmidt from (former) PCC merchandising in the article. I’m curious what has become of Paul’s quest to find a better bag, e.g. the “Oxo degradable” plastic bag?

Personally, I think PCC should consider adopting one long-time European method, which is to assume people will have a bag and to charge them if they do not. A little drastic I’m sure, but what better way to change people’s habits but by affecting their bottom line. Thanks for listening.
— Dave Luxem, Seattle

Former PCC Director of Merchandising Paul Schmidt replies: Thank you Bobbi and Dave for your continued interest in the bag challenge. After testing four different Oxodegradeable bags over the last few months, we’ve placed an order for one and it will be in our stores any day.

It would be wonderful if PCC could coax Weyerhaeuser into certified sustainable forestry practices, but, realistically, PCC’s business is miniscule from Weyerhaeuser’s perspective. Nonetheless, we’re glad to say we did get Weyerhaeuser and the Rainforest Action Network to start talking seriously with each other about sustainable practices.

About charging for bags, a Seattle City councilman considered raising discussion for a citywide policy (similar to San Francisco’s) and I spoke with his office about it. Apparently, it’s not moving forward as there are concerns that charging may offend some customers and pose a competitive disadvantage.

By offering paper, degradable plastic, and reusable cloth bags, PCC and our customers are nonetheless taking a positive step to reduce waste in landfills.

Moving and not getting the Sound Consumer

I did not receive an issue of the Sound Consumer this month. Was it published? I was looking for my 10 percent coupon.

Also, I have a new address (which does not explain why I didn’t receive the Sound Consumer, as I’m receiving mail at both addresses).
— Virginia Curulla, Seattle

Editor: Since the Sound Consumer is sent out via bulk mail rates, it does not get forwarded like other mail with first class postage. In other words, moving and changing addresses means you won’t continue to receive the Sound Consumer unless you notify PCC member services (206-547-1222) of your address change. [You can also change your address online here.]

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