Letters to the editor, September 2008

This article was originally published in September 2008

Keep covering food politics

I appreciate your article, Tracking pesticides, factory farming (July 2008 Sound Consumer ). I’m very interested in this kind of thing and hope you will continue to cover food politics and practices. It’s really becoming important in the world. A well-written article. Lots of punch and to the point, not too long, so I appreciate it very much.
— Nayak Polissar, Silence-Heart-Nest Restaurant, Seattle

Not all shrimp are equal

I’m glad to see your article entitled, Not all shrimp are equal: wild shrimp vs. farmed shrimp (August 2008 Sound Consumer) by Eli Penberthy. Eli has done a good job in summarizing the various important issues surrounding the production of farmed shrimp coming from Asia, Latin America and Africa — the global South.

I want to mention something important that wasn’t included in the article concerning the blog site (shrimpless.wordpress.com) for the “Shrimp Less, Think More” consumer awareness campaign being implemented by Mangrove Action Project.

This campaign aims to raise awareness about the serious problems associated with the shrimp aquaculture industry, while asking consumers to reduce greatly their consumption demand for cheap farmed shrimp — especially when the true costs of that shrimp far exceeds the supermarket or restaurant costs we are paying in the United States and abroad.

Also, Mangrove Action Project’s Web site contains a wealth of information about mangroves and shrimp farm issues. Please visit www.mangroveactionproject.org..
— Alfredo Quarto, Executive Director, Mangrove Action Project, Port Angeles

GM sugar beet sugar

Thanks for the great article on the genetically modified (GM) sugar beet situation and the reference to the EPA misnomer in The (sugar) beet goes on: GM sugar coming to market (August 2008 Sound Consumer). For years I’ve wanted to place a bumper sticker on my car: “EPA: the Environmental Pollution Agency” and “FDA: the Federal Death Agency” (all those approved drugs that can kill you).

I certainly hope that the public takes heed of the GM sugar beet/Round Up situation NOW because if it is not stopped soon, it will lead to more of the same with many, many more crops.
— Julie Rodgers-Phan, Kenmore


I was excited to see your recent cover article on Detoxification (August 2008 Sound Consumer) by Cherie Calbom. This is not something you hear much about in the standard health and nutrition media, but in the many books on natural health that I’ve read, every one of them stresses the importance of detoxification.

We know that there are many toxins in the environment and they get into our bodies through eating, drinking and physical exposure. As these toxins accumulate, the liver and kidneys can be compromised and cancer or other serious diseases can develop. It makes sense to detoxify periodically.

As a result I’m a big believer in how important it is to detoxify. I’ve been doing this for years and it’s an integral part of my personal health program. For readers who have not done this, I recommend you read about it online or in your health books and consult with a nutritional therapist or naturopath to select products or protocols to try.
— Russ Hamerly, Seattle


As a proud PCC member, I was extremely troubled by the recent article, Detoxification (August 2008 Sound Consumer). There’s no scientific merit for many of the practices described by its author. It’s of the utmost importance to consume the freshest local, organic foods and produce. It is not natural, however, to detoxify one’s body.

Specifically, so called “colon cleansing” is a disreputable recommendation made by those ignorant of the normal function of the intestinal tract. The colon is best served by a high fiber diet and a healthy amount of water intake. Its lining is continuously renewed by design.

Adding artificial materials and purgatives, whether orally or via an enema, is unsafe, unnatural and contrary to this organ’s function. Evidence-based medical and scientific literature abounds in support of this. I suggest future articles are properly vetted first so we can avoid such modern-day snake oil sales pitches.
— Harry A. Kahn, MD

Nutritionist Cherie Calbom, MS, and member of Bastyr University’s Board of Regents, replies: There’s little scientific evidence and few studies about detoxification protocols. However, the lack of research does not necessarily mean detox protocols have no merit.

The human body evolved long before our relatively recent exposure to unnatural toxins from industry and chemical agriculture. The international research collaborative, Natural Standard/Integrative Medicine (NSIM), has this to say: “Detoxification is a broad concept that encompasses many different modalities and substances used in cleansing the body’s systems and organs.

It’s one of the oldest known practices of health promotion and has roots in some form or another in all ancient cultures. Detoxification is not common in conventional Western medicine (today) but is a mainstay of naturopathic medicine and other traditions such as Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and Western herbal medicine.

Detoxification regimes primarily target heavy metals, chemical toxins, microbial compounds, and by-products of protein metabolism. At this time laboratory research documents some natural detoxification processes in the body and strategies for stimulating those processes, but there has been little clinical research on clinical outcomes of most detoxification regimes.”

Raw milk

I want to say “Hooray for PCC!” I’ve already had some of Jackie’s Jersey raw milk and it’s delicious. It literally flies off the shelves! It’s great that PCC has realized the benefits of this wonderful food. The reality is that more people get sick from eating deli cold cuts, fast food burgers, peanut butter and tomatoes than they have from drinking raw milk.

What most people fail to realize is that when milk is pasteurized, all bacteria is destroyed, including the good guys, and the good saturated fats turn rancid. Rancid fats can cause gastrointestinal distress and offer nothing nutritional our bodies can use.

Happy cows grazed on grass don’t need to be pumped full of antibiotics and drugs to manage ruminants inflamed from eating corn and soy. Their milk is free from pus that’s present in conventionally raised cows who ARE shot full of drugs to make them produce milk longer than is natural. Their udders become infected and when the milk passes through the teat, the pus does too.

I drink at least a gallon of raw milk a week and have now for several years. Thanks for selling raw milk so I can spend more money at your stores and support the local farmers.
— Nancy L. Jerominski, NLJ Fitness & Wellness Consulting

Livestock and electrical pollution

I visited your Web site and read about rBST/rBGH and the health effects on cows, milk nutrition and health implications. If you really care about animal health and human health, consider reading the book, “Electrocution of America: Is your utility company out to kill you?” by Russ Allen.

I’ve worked in the animal agriculture industry for more than 25 years and honestly can say I’m no fan of rBST/rBGH, but taken in context it has minimal effects compared to the problems developing with stray current. I believe the problem is getting worse as our appetite for electricity increases, more electronics are utilized, and the electrical grid gets more stressed carrying loads beyond its capability.
— Steve Carlson, DVM, Dalarna Farms New London, IA

Editor: I have not read the book but promotional material says it’s about a dairy farmer who took a utility company to court after his cows became sick and unproductive, he says, when dangerous, harmful stray current flowed over the earth and into the dairy operation.


Many companies and friends of mine are touting a dizzying array of “healthier” sweeteners. I constantly find these items on ingredient lists: organic evaporated cane juice, organic crystallized evaporated cane juice, organic rice syrup, organic brown rice syrup, organic evaporated cane juice invert syrup.

From a chemical standpoint, all of these are sugars. Are they really healthier than their much-maligned cousins — sugar and corn syrup? Isn’t “crystallized evaporated cane juice” the exact same thing as sugar? Isn’t “rice syrup” just as bad as “corn syrup”?

I’m not a fanatic about sugar. I’m an avid baker and I eat sweets in moderation. But as a population, we (and especially children) are eating too much sugar and I’m concerned that people who are trying to cut back will not do so because they’re being duped into thinking certain types of sugars are healthy — or healthier than standard sugar or no sugar at all.

It’s distressing the extent to which even organic companies have pushed sugars. The attitude seems to be that if you start with something healthy it will remain healthy no matter how much sugar you dump into it. People think if it comes from an organic store or food company, it’s got to be healthy.

I’m not surprised to hear that you’re already planning to do some education about this and I am SO GLAD. I’ve come to expect that you are so far ahead of the curve.
— Orna Edgar, Redmond

Editor: See Sweet enough by Goldie Caughlan (September 2008 Sound Consumer). The November Sound Consumer cover story also will be about sweeteners.

Local food matters

I appreciated Viki Sonntag’s sentiments in Why Buying Local Matters (June 2008 Sound Consumer) and appreciate PCC’s support for local agriculture. So why are the only organic black beans available at PCC from China or Peru when organic black beans are grown in Washington and other western states? I also found that PCC’s organic mung and adzuki beans and raw buckwheat all come from China.
— Irene Holroyd, Seattle

Editor replies: Imported organic black beans from China are cheaper and have undercut market pricing so much that most U.S. farmers stopped growing them — even in Washington’s Palouse region, which is one of the best climates anywhere for growing legumes.

However, you’ll be glad to know that even before we got your letter, I was working with our state’s organic program manager to see if we could find farmers here who’ll grow organic black beans, adzuki and pintos for PCC. He’s running an announcement in the next Organic Quarterly that goes out in October. Nothing promised, but we just might find some interest for 2009.

Also in this issue

News bites, September 2008

Organics growing in Washington, GM alfalfa campaign, Dairy farmers switch to grazing, and more

Insights by Goldie: Natural sweeteners: Sweet enough!

When asked to recommend “the healthiest sweetener,” I always cringe because it sounds like a seeker looking for the Holy Grail. I hate to break it to them, but in my view a) it’s the wrong quest and b) there is no one “best” sweetener.

Ames Creek Farm tour: peak of the season

This article talks about the upcoming King County Harvest Celebration Farm Tour on September 27, 2008. Ames Creek Farm will be part of the tour and PCC is a major sponsor. Also discussed is a new donation program, the Farmland Sustaining Circle.