Letters to the editor, February 2011
This article was originally published in February 2011
After reading a letter to the editor in the Sound Consumer (December 2010), I decided to try Pure Eire milk, even though it costs more than other brands. Oh my gosh! It tastes so good, I couldn’t believe it!
I like raw milk and Pure Eire is even more delicious, even though it’s pasteurized. I don’t know whether it is because the cows are 100 percent grass-fed, or the milk is slow, vat-pasteurized but it’s worth every penny. Thank you for carrying it and for supporting a humane, environmentally conscious producer.
— Sister Linda Kayes, Bothell
Whole grain bakery?
After reading December’s Sound Consumer, I no longer can avoid an irony: The front page stars an article on vegetarianism with both perspectives strongly emphasizing the importance of whole grains in the diet. I always have assumed we all know this, vegetarian or not. The irony is that the back page article highlights the PCC bakery as using high-quality organic flours, sugars, etc., yet nowhere is there any mention of whole grain flours.
My 12 years of shopping at PCC as a member have convinced me to not consider PCC Bakery items anymore because of the lack of whole grain offerings. This is a sad situation since replacing organic flour with organic whole wheat/rye/oat flours is so simple to do. I have successfully done so in all my home baking, when I have time to bake.
My family would love to eat the PCC cinnamon buns on a regular basis but for the lack of whole wheat flour, I buy them only rarely as a tasty treat. The same is true of your cookies. Very little in the wide array you offer uses whole grain flour when they could so easily.
With all the worry about people eating “empty foods” will PCC please remedy its own bakery production by only using whole grain flours? PCC is such a strong advocate for healthy eating in our region and, in most cases, PCC is careful to “walk the talk” but this is one place that seems to have missed some of that attention. Thank you for all your educational efforts and consideration of this question.
— Laura Koetke, Redmond
Deli Retail Manager Robin Kuczynski replies: You’ll be happy to hear that we’ll have more whole-grain baked goods soon. They’re in development now. Meanwhile, a fair number of our baked goods do use whole-grain flours. Our “Morning Muffins,” for instance, are made with whole spelt flour. Our “Old Fashioned Brownies with Walnuts” use whole-wheat pastry flour. We make our “Spelt Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies” with whole-spelt flour and rolled whole oats, and the “Kasha Energy Bars” are made with oat bran.
Other recipes have a 50/50 ratio. The buttermilk scones are half unbleached refined wheat flour and half whole-wheat flour. The Scotty oat scones are made with unbleached wheat flour and oats. The vegan scones use a mix of whole spelt and refined spelt flour.
Our wheat-free items, including cupcakes, cakes, cookies and muffins, also are made with whole-grain brown rice flour.
Extruded cereal grains
I just read an article about breakfast cereal and what happens to grains when they are extruded to form the cereal shapes. See sureyouwanttoeatthat.blogspot.com/2010_01_01_archive.html. I’m wondering if you have heard of this problem? I know there are so many food issues but could you point me to a source of enlightenment? I appreciate your help.
— Lisa C., PCC member, Bothell
Nutrition Educator Nick Rose, M.S., replies: Extrusion of cereal grains into breakfast cereals destroys some but not all the vitamins and it also changes the structure of (“denatures”) the proteins. The loss of vitamins reduces the nutritional value of extruded food but the proteins in grains are broken down during digestion into amino acids and retain the same nutritional value. Several animal studies show that eating extruded grains has no negative effect on growth or body weight.
Plastic bottled water
Shoppers at the Fremont, Greenlake and Seward Park stores may remember a petition I circulated last summer regarding plastic bottled water. The petition urges PCC to stop selling plastic bottled water and to look for alternatives to other plastics in the stores. The petition is my one-person-response to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Clearly, all of us need to do what we can to reduce our use of fossil fuels. There are lots of things we can do: drive less, use less heat and air conditioning, eat less meat, and use less plastic, most of which is oil-based. Plastic bottled water is an especially egregious waste of oil resources and water resources.
By mid-September 2010, 400 people had signed this petition. On September 28, I presented the signatures at the PCC Board of Trustees meeting. The Board was very responsive to our arguments.
I want to thank everyone who signed the petition and/or discussed the issue with me this summer outside the PCCs. Your efforts are not in vain! We have reason to be hopeful that PCC may decide to do the right thing for all of us and for Mother Nature: help steer us shoppers away from plastic bottled water and toward healthier alternatives. In this way, PCC could lead the way for the region but it won’t be easy.
Plastic bottled water is a top seller. I urge everyone to continue to learn about the pitfalls of plastic bottled water, talk about the issue, and work toward a better day, which we must bring about soon!
— Mary Paterson, member, 23 years
Director of Sustainability Diana Crane replies: We appreciate the initiative on this issue, which has been top-of-mind at PCC for a long time. A task force is reviewing all our bottled beverages, especially still water. Next steps will be based on an evaluation of customer demand for beverages in plastic and glass bottles, the environmental impact, and emerging options in packaging.
Last Saturday, I went shopping at Redmond PCC. When I got home, I found my live, hot-house basil plant at the bottom of one shopping bag squashed under the cans of coconut water and soup. The basil, which should have gone in the bag with the produce, was laid on its side and the water in the little plastic bag leaked out. The bottom of my bag was totally wet. Thankfully, it was in one of those bags made from recycled material and so it didn’t leak. I just hung it on a door knob to dry. The plant survived and revived.
This is no biggie. I figure this is just another teaching opportunity for a bagger. It’s really Russian Roulette for the poor baggers. They have no clue as to what’s in a shopper’s cart. They just see all these items coming at them and they have to strategize on their feet what goes with what in a bag. I think the shopper can help the bagger by how they put their items on the conveyor belt.
Maybe PCC could issue some simple instructions for the shopper on how to load the conveyor belt to help the bagger and insure proper bagging.
— Virginia Southas, Bellevue
Customer Service Manager Mimi Simmons replies: I’m very sorry this happened. We do train our staff on careful bagging and your experience certainly is not in keeping with our standards. Thank you for speaking up. We will use your experience as a teachable example.
Choosing fats and oils
I have read with interest and alarm the ongoing debate on The Truth About Fats (October 2010). But this causes me and others in my situation a dilemma. What are your suggestions for people who:
- cannot eat dairy
- like the convenience of a ready-made spread
- don’t like coconut oil
- like a buttery substance for spreading?
Coconut oil is not to everyone’s taste. Personally, I find it inedible, ruining the flavor of soups, stir fries and other dishes, dominating with its smell and taste. I genuinely would like to know what suggestions there are to help people who can’t eat dairy but who like the buttery taste?
— Paula Rice, Redmond
[Former] Nutrition educator Leika Suzumura replies: Getting a buttery flavor out of an imitation product usually means it contains diacetyl or acetoin, which PCC does not allow. We do offer two alternative products, Earth Balance and Spectrum’s Organic Butter Flavor Shortening, which have the properties you desire. You also might try putting a small jar of olive oil in the fridge till it solidifies and use that as a “spread,” maybe add a bit of salt to bring out the flavor. Avocado, tahini and nut butters also are options.
I read your article, The Truth About Fats (October 2010), and was shocked. It goes against everything we’ve been taught for the last 50 years! But I thought, “I’m game,” and I bought a jar of ghee.
I know it’s a good product because it has been in several cultures forever but I can’t seem to get a handle on it. Almost everything I do is stir-fry and the ghee hardens so much in the refrigerator that I barely can get it out of the jar with a knife. Then, if I just coat the bottom of the pan for frying an egg, it burns and the food sticks. If I use a lot, the food absorbs it and it still burns on the bottom. Could you give us some advice about how best to use the product?
— Joan McKay, Mukilteo
Editor replies: Ghee does not need refrigeration because the milk solids are removed. It will keep for months at room temperature without turning rancid. The brand we sell, Purity, has a 450° smoke point so that is not the source of the problem. Purity advises using a clean, dry utensil to scoop out the ghee and avoid introducing water because that will cause burning.
I’m writing in response to the letter entitled “Columbus Day Flags” in December’s issue. I want to let PCC know that not all PCC shoppers share the writer’s political views. My family and I have no objections to displaying the American flag ever. We support displays of patriotism and encourage PCC to continue. Thank you!
— Laura Blaine, Kirkland