Letters to the editor, November 2006
This article was originally published in November 2006
Notes from the Cellar
I love Jeff Cox’s “Notes from the Cellar!” He makes me think about how to live (because you can’t live without eating and drinking) instead of trying to guess what a bunch of adjectives means to my taste buds. Keep Jeff’s Notes coming!
— Todd Wentworth, Kirkland
Big organic vs. local
What a timely coincidence that you point out the very essence of this new food movement in Regional food: It takes a community, (“Insights by Goldie, September Sound Consumer). Only local buying can strengthen the consumer/farmer connection and provide food quality and food supply security. Smaller farms also reduce the risk of large-scale monoculture.
We can’t let the organic label get abused by the bigwigs or let them tamper with our honest attempt to grow honest food. (Consider their latest try: the “National Uniformity for Food Act.”) When it comes to food production, bigger is never better. I just hope the recent spinach/E.coli mess will help drive home the underlying message.
Corporations don’t care, they never do, they can’t afford to; they need to please their shareholders. They gobble up the little guys who worked hard to create a reputable label and then water down the quality to increase their profits. By the way, I applaud PCC to take that so necessary stand and drop Horizon. We need to send the clear message that this movement cannot be corrupted. No big industry on my plate.
— Peter Laffan, member
I’m writing to request that PCC stop selling foraged wild mushrooms and to encourage you to educate your customers on the environmental harm that wild mush-room gathering causes. In the September Sound Consumer (In Praise of the Wild Mushroom), Jim Wells gives an excellent description of many of the problems wild mushroom harvesting has caused, yet at the end of the article he encourages individuals to go out and pick them.
Thirty years ago, I was a strong advocate and practitioner of foraging for wild edible plants. But today there are many more people, a wave of environmental tourists, a growing demand for gourmet food, and increasing erosion of wild areas.
Today I do not eat wild foraged mushrooms. I leave them for the elk, the squirrels, for the slugs that love them, for their many wondrous benefits to the forest they grow in, and for their natural beauty. I leave them for the next visitor to see and marvel at. I leave them so there’s balance in the forest. I leave them because when I’m alone in our forests I am closest to God’s creations and I try to walk softly in these sacred wild areas.
Please encourage entrepreneurs like Jim Wells to partner with private timberland owners for a co-existing tree and mushroom farming business. I’m sure there are many timber-farm owners that would be glad to partner with mushroom growers for a share of the profit.
This would provide a certifiable sustainable source for wild mushrooms, protect public forests, leave food for wildlife, provide economic development for logging/rural communities and leave an untouched forest for the next visitor.
— David A. Anderson
The Pacific Northwest is one of the best places in the country for wild mushrooms and other fungi. Most people don’t realize how important the various fungi are to every aspect of our life and our surroundings.
We usually think only in terms of how good many of them are to eat, but did you know they’re also essential to the good health of our wonderful forests and its wildlife? Why not take the opportunity to learn something about these extremely important life forms.
On the second Tuesday of every month, the Puget Sound Mycological Society (PSMS) meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture on the UW campus to explore the mysteries, uses, ecology, finding, identification and, yes, the eating of wild mushrooms. The meetings are open to all. If you would like to learn more about the Society, please visit www.psms.org.
— Doug Ward, past president and current board member of PSMS, and PCC member
Parabens in bodycare
I’m glad to see you’re not bringing any more paraben-containing products into your stores (Quality standards, product changes, September 2006 Sound Consumer) but was disappointed you wouldn’t take a stronger stance. I think PCC should ban immediately all products containing parabens, especially those in children’s products.
I was horrified to read the ingredients on my daughter’s bubble bath the other day. I’ve known about the cancer risk with parabens for more than a year and have since tossed countless beauty products purchased at your store, but I somehow had overlooked the tiny print on the bubble bath, which is now in the trash. I think an immediate ban would send the message to these “natural” beauty product companies that we don’t want parabens in any of our beauty products.
Think about it: most of your customer base is concerned about their health or they wouldn’t be spending money on organic products. I’m sure those who don’t know about parabens wouldn’t want to be slathering them on every day if they did know about them. I know that’s how I felt when I first learned about them.
— Darcie Nelson
Body Care Merchandiser Wendy McLain replies: We’re working toward elimination of parabens, but it won’t happen overnight. We’re very actively pressuring manufacturers to reformulate, and I’ve brought in new paraben-free product lines from Avalon, Larenim, Moon Valley, Emerita and Mychelle. Also, we’re developing shelf tags to identify “paraben-free” products to raise awareness. Please understand that people become attached to a product for one reason or another and get upset if it disappears, even if told it contains an unhealthful ingredient.
Mad cow and Alzheimers
In the news bite citing The New York Times (Mad cow testing cut back, October 2006 Sound Consumer), I was sure there must have been a misprint in saying there were only “two cases of mad cow disease confirmed in the United States this past year.”
Having just finished a book entitled “Brain Trust: The Hidden Connection between Mad Cow and Misdiagnosed Alzheimers Disease,” which chronicles the advent of the disease, where there are pockets of it, and that this is a disease not required to be reported to the Centers for Disease Control, I was shocked.
My cousin in Portland personally knows two people who contracted the disease and died from it. It seems very suspicious that I know the one person who knows the only two cases of mad cow disease in the entire country. Is this a misprint or is The New York Times negligent? Confused.
— Janet Miller
Editor: It’s no misprint. You’re right. The Sound Consumer first reported this concern about under-reported cases back in 2001 when mad cow first made headlines. The story pointed out that “… two separate studies of brain tissue from people whose cause of death was listed as Alzheimer’s Disease found that a significant portion — 5.5 percent in one case and 13 percent in the other — actually died of CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a human variant of mad cow disease).
The latter study was performed by Dr. Laura Manuelidis, head of Neuropathology at Yale University’s Medical School, in 1989. Dr. Manuelidis states that because CJD-like diseases can be definitively diagnosed only by brain biopsy after death, they may be under-reported.”
Packaging and plastics
Thanks for the article about plastics, plastic wrap and Tupperware (Packaging and Plastics, July 2006 Sound Consumer). I’ve made a choice to stop storing my food in plastic and put it in glass jars and dishes. I didn’t know cling wrap was a possible danger as well. I wonder about the plastic part on pacifiers that babies suck on — is that safe? Thanks and keep up the good work. Reading your paper always reinforces my choosing organic produce, even though it is pricier. It sure tastes better!
— Christine Hoffman
Editor: Research reported by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives indicates a strong relationship between phthalates — used as softeners in plastics — and endocrine disruption, especially among baby boys. This past June, the city of San Francisco banned hard plastic toys, bottles and pacifiers containing bisphenol (BPA) because of evidence that it’s an endrocrine disruptor, too. The American Plastics Council and the Food and Drug Administration say both compounds are safe. I suggest researching it further online.
(Editor: I continue to receive letters from far-flung places about Kay Neth’s August article on fluoride. Here’s a sampling.)
Thank you for the very interesting article, “The National Academy of Sciences reports on fluoride.” I’ve not seen anything about this in our local papers but a friend told me there was an article in The Wall Street Journal. So you’re right up there with the high-class journals.
I’m very concerned about fluoridation since I read an article several years ago and found that two of my children had the brown spots on their teeth. Since then we’ve been purchasing filtered water but we drank the city water for about 30 years before that and probably have some damage to bones. After five years of being thought a “kook,” I finally feel somewhat vindicated. I hope other papers will follow suit.
— Ellie Gioumousis, Palo Alto, California
I would like to congratulate the Sound Consumer on this balanced piece of work on water fluoridation. I am always very happy when I see a truly scientific exposé on fluoride. Keep up the good work!
— David Veilleux, M.D., Quebec, Canada
I have just read the article on fluoride in drinking water and want to congratulate you on its clarity and readability. It is also, in my opinion, balanced and responsible. You set a high standard.
— David Horwood, Sandringham, Victoria, Australia
Thank you for publishing a relatively fair report about fluoride from the National Academy of Science. Fluoride is still a poison and is accumulative in the human body. Adding fluoride to drinking water without the drinker’s permission is forced medication — or forced poisoning — and is a crime. Putting poison in drinking water is pure insanity.
— Frank T. Schubert, Oak Lawn, Illinois