Letters to the editor, January 2006

This article was originally published in January 2006

Thanks from the farmers

We did demos of our pears and apples this past month at a number of the PCC stores, and it meant so much to us. It was wonderful to connect with so many of the people who enjoy and appreciate our fruit, and organic fruit in general.

I get the opportunity to hear feedback from appreciative consumers pretty frequently, as I do most of the local sales and the Twisp Farmer’s market, but my husband George doesn’t get to experience that very often. Let me tell you, farming is HARD work and for him to hear how much folks enjoy the ‘fruits of his labor’ makes it all worthwhile for him.

Everyone was SO nice, interested, appreciative, caring and grateful that, all in all, it was a great experience for us. We would so like to thank everyone for the experience, from Joe Hardiman (PCC’s produce merchandiser) to all the managers and produce managers, to the many friendly people we met. Thanks for the opportunity to connect once again!
— Apple and George Otte River Valley Organics

Editor: The Ottes provide PCC with Lapin cherries and Bosc and Seckel pears. They also provide Honeycrisp, Cameo, Gala and Fuji apples.

Tillamook cheese, butter, et al

I saw the article about Tillamook and rBGH milk in the Sound Consumer. I emailed Tillamook about it and thought I’d share the exchange:

For several months I’ve made a point of buying Tillamook cheese and butter because of your policy of using non-rBGH milk. But I just found out that it’s only your cheese that is non-rBGH. I urge you to make all your products non-rBGH. In the meantime, I’ll look for another butter.
— Margaret L. Masar

Tillamook’s response: Thank you for your email sharing your comments. Our first priority has been the milk used in our cheese because cheese makes up 85 percent of our sales. Milk for some of our other dairy products comes from other suppliers. We are in the process of contacting those milk suppliers seeking to implement the same policy for all Tillamook dairy products. However, full implementation will take some time.
— Ronald R. Cottor, Customer Service, Tillamook

Less toxic, non-toxic garden products

I read in your September Sound Consumer that there’s a movement to persuade Home Depot to stock more “organic” products supported by several organizations including the Washington Toxics Coalition. This is to be accomplished by a letter writing campaign. While I agree wholeheartedly with this idea, I also feel that it would be beneficial to publicly support those “big box” retailers that DO encourage the use of organic or less toxic products.

I’m an employee of Lowe’s and I’d like to point out that while Lowe’s is not perfect in this regard, it does stock many “organic” products and in its publications makes suggestions regarding organic methods. The level of knowledge regarding pesticides depends upon the staff at various stores, but I would point out that the Issaquah Loew’s has several employees who are well versed in the use of least toxic chemicals for the homeowner.

It seems to me that public support (rewarding “good works”) can be as effective in encouraging businesses to move toward less toxic products as aggressive letter writing campaigns.

Those of us who work for Lowe’s support the use of “least toxic” materials, but if they aren’t selling at an acceptable rate, they WILL BE ELIMINATED FROM THE ASSORTMENT! Thus, we’re dependant upon the support of persons such as your subscribers who will come to our stores and purchase “least toxic” products consistently. We also need your members to communicate approval and support the sale of these products by Lowe’s.
— Charlotte Fanders

Water filters

I just learned, after installing a reverse osmosis water filtration system, how much water reverse osmosis wastes. It was then I decided to look into what PCC uses, Custom Pure. I learned that the systems it sells do not waste water or use electricity. It would be nice to see an article on responsible water filtration. Thanks,
— Mark Hall

Water fluoridation

We have an unprecedented opportunity to effect a national shift on the policy of water fluoridation. I hope you’ll spread the word in your publication and alert your members, clients and friends.

In August, 11 employee unions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representing 7,000 scientists and public health professionals, issued a news release asking Congress to enact a national moratorium on drinking water fluoridation, pending a full review of the science on fluoride. They also asked the “EPA management to recognize fluoride as posing a serious risk of causing cancer in people.”

The action followed revelations of an apparent cover-up of evidence from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine that links fluoridation with an elevated risk of fatal bone cancer in young boys. (Washington Post, July 13 and Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2005).

The Protect Our Water Alliance has provided an online petition supporting the EPA unions’ requests. I hope you’ll join me in signing it to support EPA scientists and professionals. It’s time to get fluoride out of our water.

Another good reason to sign the petition is a report in the Center for Disease Control’s in-house journal that fluorosis has increased among young people. For further information on the relationship between fluorosis and tooth decay, see www.fluoridealert.org/health/teeth/fluorosis/caries.html.

How can we have organic crops if we are watering them with toxic waste (hydrofluosolicic acid, a.k.a. fluoride) from the chimneys of fertilizer plants containing trace amounts of mercury, lead and other contaminants?
— Beth Thomas

Editor replies: An update on fluoride is planned for the March Sound Consumer.

Fair Trade honey?

I love the Sound Consumer, the staff and the growing diversity at my co-op, Seward Park. I’m not a coffee drinker; it’s too hard on my body. But, I do use honey — love it! And a friend of mine, for a more peace and justice apples-and-honey tradition at Rosh Hashanah, recently gave me a container of Zapatista Honey. That’s Fair Trade Honey, from the coffee flowers in Chiapas, Mexico. It’s available from the Human Bean Company in Denver, Colorado (www.caferebelion.com). I’d like to be able to purchase it locally. Is it a possibility? Shalom,
— Fai Coffin

Stephanie Steiner, PCC grocery merchandiser, replies: The honey sounds lovely and I appreciate your sentiments to help place this honey at PCC. I contacted the company and, unfortunately, learned that it has no distributor in our area. It’s also important to note that it’s not certified Fair Trade and that Fair Trade honey exists from locations all over the world. Most of our honey is local and all of it is ethically traded.


In the November Sound Consumer, a figure was quoted on the front page that organic agriculture is a $6 billion business in Washington. I think this actually is the total for all agriculture. Organic food accounts for about 5 percent of the total.
— Claude Ginsburg

Editor replies: You are correct, Claude. The value of Washington state’s agriculture overall is $6 billion. The value of organic food was $244 million in 2004, a 71 percent increase over 2000. This includes processed food and farm gate sales. Organic farm gate sales alone were $78 million last year. Thank you for your sharp reading!

Also in this issue

News bites, January 2006

Cambodia goes organic, Lost pounds worth cash, Too much of the real thing, and more