Letters to the editor, August 2010

This article was originally published in August 2010

Safer cosmetics

I am wishing I lived in Seattle again so I easily could walk into a PCC store and ask a store employee to direct me to any mascara and eye shadow free of toxic substances. I’ve discovered Dr. Hauschka’s concealer and ZuZu’s face powder but currently am still using Clinique eye shadow and Maybelline mascara, and I don’t recognize any of the chemicals used in those products. 

I’ve been to safecosmetics.org but was overwhelmed and confused, didn’t recognize any of the low-risk brands and wouldn’t know where to find them. Are you able to recommend any brands that I might recognize and does PCC carry anything in the way of mascara or eye shadow? Many thanks,
— Emily Davenport

Body Care Merchandiser Wendy McLain replies: Dr. Hauschka and ZuZu Luxe both have mascara and eye shadow. I really like and personally use both brands. Gabriel, Lavera, Larenim and Mychelle are other excellent brands for cosmetics. All meet PCC standards, which, to the best of our knowledge, are the strictest in the country.


Reading through health and beauty magazines, I’m delighted to see the number of organic and “natural” products that are reviewed. It seems that excerpted reviews on the health and beauty shelves at PCC would be a wonderful guide for those, like me, who are new to organic beauty purchasing.

After years of organic food buying, picking out fresh organic carrots is a no-brainer. Wading through the ingredient lists and the fantastical claims on dozens of soap boxes, shampoo packaging, and make-up is daunting. A bit of guidance, in the form of excerpted reviews by the featured product, would be appreciated.
­— Blynne Olivieri, Edmonds

Marketing Director Laurie Albrecht replies: We also are glad to see more coverage on safer cosmetics and body care products. Some reviews are reputable but we can’t trust the standards applied in other studies are nearly as high as ours. As Wendy says above, PCC’s body care standards apparently are second to none. Learn more about our products and standards on our website.

Vendor remembered

Thank you, PCC, for the flower memorial and poster card for Robert Hansen, the “Real Change” vendor who passed away April 28. Robert sold the paper regularly outside the Seward Park store and I still look for him there. The memorial gave a forum for us all to mourn together and I appreciate the respectful support shown by PCC.
— Cheryl Brush

City chickens

No sooner had I read the article, City Chickens, in the July Sound Consumer than I got a newsletter with the following link: “Keeping Chickens in a Dog Crate,” (chetday.com/chickencoopdogcrate.htm). Thought you might be interested. A fan and regular customer,
— Linda Young, Seattle


I don’t agree with the quote that there are “essentially no treatments for chickens.” I work at The Bird & Exotic Clinic and we see A LOT of chickens, which has gone up in the past few years. We’ve treated chickens for everything from parasites to dog attacks and have done many surgeries on pet chickens, as well.

Many problems can be treated and just because a chicken gets sick does not mean it will stop producing eggs and should be killed. Luckily, we live in an area where there are several board-certified avian specialists: Dr. Bennett at The Bird & Exotic Clinic of Seattle, Dr. Onorati at Des Moines Veterinary Hospital, and Dr. Johnson-Delany at Eastside Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center in Kirkland.

Most small animal veterinarians will not see birds, so it’s important they be seen by somebody who is familiar with them.

As far as I know, most exam fees start at about $55; it’s the treatments and meds that add up.
— Jen Szucs

Organic egg processing?

Are the organic eggs sold at PCC “processed” as the excerpt, below, from a mercola.com article indicates? It says:

“If you are eating organically, then you have learned how important the diet and care of an animal is to the quality of its meat and, in this case, their eggs. But have you ever thought about what happens to these eggs AFTER they are collected? You would think that organic eggs would be your best choice when picking them up at the grocery store. However, most states have laws that make them illegal unless all the eggs that are sold commercially are processed in a way that could damage them.

“Some states require that all eggs receive a chlorine bath and mineral oil coating before they are nestled into their cartons. There are vast differences in how eggs are processed and handled, even under the certified organic label. As it turns out, what happens outside the shell is as important as what happens inside the shell …”
­— Virginia Southas

Kiasa Kuykendall of Stiebr’s Farms (PCC’s organic and non-organic egg supplier) replies: Mineral oil, or coating eggs with any oil, is not allowed in organic operations and Stiebr’s does not use any oil sprays on any of its eggs — organic and non-organic.

Our eggs are washed in an egg soap called Egbryte that is approved for organic production. It is used at a rate of about 0.2 percent of the wash water. The rinse mist does include a small percentage of chlorine, which is one of the very few allowable cleaners for organic operations. It actually is required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for sanitation purposes. The final step in Stiebr’s egg-cleaning process is a clean water rinse.

I also wish to point out a couple of myths in the Mercola.com article: 1) Eggs are not “dipped” or “bathed” in any substance. Eggs roll through the washer while wash water and rinses are sprayed over them. 2) Mineral oil sprays are not allowed in certified organic operations.

Chicken packaging

Hurray for non-styrofoam meat packaging! Just purchased my first beef in cardboard. The oceans of the world thank you.

I do have one question about non-styrofoam packaging: the organic chicken packed in plastic rather than styrofoam sometimes emits a “rotten” smell when opened, even though the sell-by date is days into the future. I suspect that the styrofoam packaging absorbs this odor. Is that correct?
— John Fine (Fremont member)

Editor replies: Glad you’re happy with the new no-foam meat packaging. Re: the chicken smell from the plastic pouches for Rosie’s organic chicken … there’s just nowhere for the so-called “purge” — juices from raw meat — to go. In traditional trays, those little pads at the bottom absorb the purge and the odor.

Plastic wrap

I have been following the discussion of the plastic wrap on your products with the focus on recycling issues. My concern is the organic food products (cheese, meats, tofu, pastas, beans, breads, frozen foods, etc.) that are wrapped in pliable plastics containing, among other toxins, BPA and phthalates. I question how the organic food is then contaminated by the toxins. Same applies to the BPA in cans containing organic foods. Conflict?
— Elinor Kriegsmann, Seattle

Editor replies: Those are concerns and we wish someone would do the research so we would know more!

Plastic produce bags

As a PCC member, I would love to see PCC work toward eliminating plastic bags, including plastic produce bags, in the stores. The manufacture of plastic uses significant amounts of energy, contributing to climate change, and plastic bags also are a major source of marine pollution.

As an environmental organization, PCC should be leading the pack in moving away from plastic. The mesh produce bags are easily washed and a great substitute for plastic produce bags.
— Selden Prentice, Seattle

Plastic water bottles

Since 9/11 some venues require that water brought in be in unopened, sealed water bottles. For this reason I still need to buy 16 oz. bottles of spring water at PCC. I appreciate that PCC makes these bottles of spring water available.

To offset our guilt about using and disposing of them, and PCC’s about selling them, perhaps PCC could provide special bins for the return of the clean, empty plastic water bottles that will then go to some good use.
— Abigail Lumbard

Director of Sustainability Diana Crane replies: Plastic water bottles are curb-side recyclable. We also provide recycling bins in all our stores.

Canned tomato/BPA substitute

Along with many other members, I’ve been concerned about using tomatoes from cans lined with a substance including BPA. Since I love to cook with tomatoes, here’s my solution: I chop up a few fresh tomatoes (even cherry or grape tomatoes will work for this) and add a desired amount of tomato juice and/or tomato paste from glass jars found on the shelves of PCC.

This mixture works just as well as canned tomatoes and, in my opinion, tastes much better. You get the substance of the fresh tomato with the extra flavor of the juice and or paste, and you can cook the tomato to taste.
— Gloria Hill

Also in this issue

A toast to Powers Winery ... and you!

This June PCC Farmland Trust reached a milestone worth celebrating — our partnership with Powers Winery surpassed $50,000 raised in support of organic farmland preservation. For every Powers’ Farmland Trust Cabernet or Chardonnay bottle sold at PCC Natural Markets, two dollars is donated to the trust.

Do you drink enough water?

Water is important to many bodily functions, such as regulating temperature, transporting nutrients and oxygen to the blood, removing waste, and lubricating joints. Every day our bodies lose water through sweating, exhaling, urination and bowel movements. This water must be replaced.

News bites, August 2010

GE alfalfa victory, Outlaw food dyes?, Rosemary for safer grilling, and more