Letters to the editor, October 2005

This article was originally published in October 2005

Food allergies

Thank you PCC Sound Consumer and Yvonne Gifford for the well-done article on food allergies and sensitivities that appeared in the May Sound Consumer. My daughter has a severe, life-threatening allergy to peanuts as well as tree nuts, shellfish and latex. While I’ve tested negative for celiac disease, I suffer from gluten-intolerance. Confusion about these terms causes many misunderstandings.

On a daily basis, families with food-allergic children and food-allergic individuals rely on a support network of caregivers to protect them from the drama that ensues when even a very small quantity of the wrong food enters their body. PCC has done food allergic individuals a huge favor by helping to define these terms for the PCC community and the public.

I would like to let Sound Consumer readers know that Seattle is lucky to have an active food allergy support group, of which I’m one of four co-leaders. Our group is the Seattle Food Education Allergy Support Team, otherwise known as FEAST, and it’s sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Seattle FEAST has developed a Web site, www.seattlefoodallergy.org, with links to both local and national resources, sponsors a Yahoo listserv, and actively participates in shaping local and national policy.

The group meets monthly, alternating between a Seattle location and an Eastside location. Future meeting topics include working with schools, communicating with restaurant staff, and coping with holidays.

Finally, thank you for all the wonderful allergen-free products on PCC’s shelves. Many, if not all, of our Seattle-area members patronize PCC because of its historical commitment to alternative diets.
— Kelly Morgan, M.S. Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, and FEAST co-leader

Fructose discontinued

I just found out that fructose is no longer available at ANY PCC store. Is there a reason? I am allergic to the processing methods used for typical cane sugar. Fructose is a safe alternative for me.

Why is it no longer available? Do you estimate its return soon?
— Kelly Bowen-McCombs, Renton

PCC Nutrition Educator Goldie Caughlan replies: Fructose is not made of fruit, as many suppose, and is more highly refined than white sugar. It’s made of corn and, because there’s none verifiably free of genetically modified corn, that’s a problem. (PCC, however, has sourced and sells non-GM organic cornstarch and baking powders [Rumford] and baking powder without any cornstarch [Hain Featherweight]). Furthermore, there’s a growing body of research that implicates refined fructose and high-fructose corn syrup as promoting heart disease. My point is that the move to drop fructose has been evolving for years.

While finishing a new brochure on natural sweeteners, we examined every sweetening product we carry and came to a collective decision (nutrition and merchandising departments) that there’s no longer justification for carrying fructose. Also, fructose sales had dropped to a very low level — indicating most consumers were bypassing it as well.

Have you considered xylitol? It’s a natural sweetener similar to sorbitol and is available in granular form with other sweeteners. It has half the calories of sugar or fructose, does not elevate or alter blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay (remember xylitol gum?) and can substitute for sugar in recipes, 1 cup xylitol for 1 cup sugar. You say you’re sensitive to sugar because of the way it’s refined. Have you tried Rapunzel’s or Wholesome’s organic sugars? They’re not refined.

Rotenone not used

I recently read a short article in Scientific American magazine about the link between the organic pesticide rotenone and Parkinson’s disease.

“J. Timothy Greenamyre of Emory University has discovered in animal studies that exposure to rotenone, a pesticide often used in organic farming because it is made from natural products, is capable of inducing protein aggregation, killing dopamine-producing neurons, inhibiting the cells’ energy-producing organelles and giving rise to motor deficits.” (Scientific American, July 2005, p. 71)

I would like to know if PCC stocks any produce that is grown using this pesticide. If so, please let me know how I will know which produce to avoid when shopping at PCC. Thank you.
— Marjean Efta

Miles McEvoy, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) organic program manager, Olympia, replies: Rotenone is a naturally occurring chemical with insecticidal, acaricidal (mite and spider-killing) and piscicidal (fish-killing) properties, obtained from the roots of several tropical and subtropical plant species belonging to the genus Lonchocarpus or Derris. It’s a selective, non-specific insecticide used in home gardens for insect control, for lice and tick control on pets, and for fish eradications as part of water body management. Both a contact and stomach poison to insects, it kills them slowly but causes them to stop their feeding almost immediately.

Rotenone is allowed under the National Organic Standards as an active ingredient. However, there are no rotenone products that are approved by WSDA or Organic Materials Review Institute, and I am not aware of any organic growers that are using rotenone in their farming systems. By the way, rotenoids, the active ingredient in rotenone, are found naturally at low levels in various legumes, including soybeans.

Also in this issue

Your co-op, October 2005

PCC’s fall member meeting, Help for Katrina victims, Construction detours near Fremont store, and more