Letters to the editor, June 2013

This article was originally published in June 2013

Colony Collapse Disorder

One possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder may be electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and the increase and intensity of radio frequencies (RFs). This was not mentioned in your article (What’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder, April 2013) and I was unsure why.

There is a farm in Canada that’s sprayed with neonicotinoids where the bees did not disappear. This farm was far out of reach from the high dose of EMFs and RFs that most American farms are exposed to. In our own community, the town of Renton recently has begun to use SmartMeters™, or what they are calling “wireless meters,” which bring high doses of EMFs and RFs into our environment. There has been a noticeable decrease in birds in that area.

EMFs are a growing concern and listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO). We need to pay attention to how our increasing desire for convenient, wireless living may be affecting our health, environment, and the wildlife that is essential to our lives. See washingtonwirelessawareness.com for more.
— Rachel Newman

Eden Foods healthcare position

I am writing to ask whether PCC has learned of the refusal of Eden Foods to abide by U.S. law and provide full healthcare, including contraceptives, to their employees. Eden Foods currently is suing the government to receive an exemption from a law that requires all for-profit companies to provide healthcare to their employees that is fair, equitable and gender-neutral.

Eden Foods CEO Michael Potter actually says that he doesn’t care about birth control in part because “I’m a man, number one, and it really isn’t my business what women do.” His lack of respect for women, his employees, and his customers is on full display. You can read more in these links: Organic Eden Foods’ quiet right-wing agenda and Eden Foods CEO’s bad week continues (salon.com).

PCC currently stocks Eden Foods products and I am writing to inquire as to whether PCC would consider removing Eden Foods from the shelves or, at the very least, inform customers of the company’s attempt to overrule the rights of women to have safe and affordable access to healthcare. It would send a very clear signal to PCC’s customers that PCC values do not allow for a company to espouse misogynistic and unfair values without severe consequences.
— Zarina Parpia


I presume you’re aware of Eden Foods’ lawsuit over the Obama administration policy to require employers’ health plans to cover contraception. I looked at your website but have not seen any postings regarding a response from PCC. I suspect the great majority of PCC shoppers — both women and men — support the contraception coverage requirement and would be happy not to spend their money on Eden products at this time.

Please let your community know how you plan to respond to Eden’s lawsuit.
— Anna Wald

PCC replies: At press time we received more than a dozen letters from customers upset by Eden’s lawsuit against the Obama administration. Eden issued the following statement: “Michael Potter and Eden Foods have offered a challenge to regulations of the ‘Affordable Care Act’ that forces individuals to violate their religious beliefs by funding contraception, sterilization, abortion and abortifacients, as well as counseling for individuals that encourages them.” Eden states that the mandate violates constitutional rights, including freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

PCC endeavors to stick to food and environment issues for public position statements. We are, however, forwarding customer comments to Eden’s CEO.

Food Waste

Readers of Joel Preston Smith’s original article on food and water waste (Americans waste 40 percent of food, February 2013) might be interested to know there is a broad technology for processing food waste known as anaerobic digestion, with many derivatives and variations. Two regions that I know of now implementing facilities to take food waste and create renewable energy are Metro Vancouver (B.C.) and San Jose.

There are countless other municipalities using existing wastewater treatment infrastructure, which often utilize anaerobic digestion to handle some limited food waste. The beauty of these separate facilities designed to take organic waste (as opposed to capturing methane from landfills) is that you get the renewable energy and compost from them. The vital organic matter that decayed food provides isn’t lost! They also do what landfills do (produce gas) in a fraction of the time.

I agree with Smith in his response that reducing the amount we generate should be our first priority. But there always will be food waste (think orange peels or shrimp tails) and we should be harnessing the full potential of these resources, including through the production of methane.
­— Elizabeth Lowell

Arsenic in rice

I have read various articles/discussions about the rice/arsenic issue on the PCC website and have seen news reports elsewhere. They usually refer to brown rice syrup.

Is that because the syrup is concentrated from the rice and therefore contains a higher concentration of arsenic? Or is just eating brown rice a concern? Have there been any recent developments on this issue?
— Allen Sayigh

PCC replies: Where rice is grown, in what soil, and what part of the country are the biggest factors in how much arsenic will be in rice, white or brown. California rice, for instance, tends to have much lower levels than rice from the American South.

That said, arsenic concentrates in the outer bran layer of rice, so whole brown rice tends to have higher levels than white rice because the outer layers are polished off for white rice. We recommend reading the Consumer Reports article Arsenic in your food. As part of the Organic Trade Association’s Arsenic Task Force, we believe a federal standard for arsenic in food is long overdue.

Grass-fed cows

In defense of whole-milk dairy (January 2013) indicated that all organic milk comes from grass-fed cows. Is that correct? I assume the same is not true for beef, i.e., organic beef is not necessarily grass-fed.

Also, I’ve heard the term “grass-finished” or something similar as applied to beef. Does that mean the cows are fed grains most of their lives, then switched to grass before they are slaughtered? If so, it seems that a cow that was grass-fed its entire life would somehow be better. I’m sure the composition of their fat would not be the same as one that was “grass-finished.”
— Connie

PCC replies: All organic milk is from cows that must be pastured at least 120 days each year. That’s the minimum. Grass-fed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition, means ruminant animals cannot be fed grain and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.

Grass- or grain-finished refers to what’s in the diet during the last three months before slaughter. Any meat labeled “grass-fed” means it also was grass-finished.

We do carry milk (Pure Éire) that is from 100-percent grass-fed cows and we carry two brands of 100-percent grass-fed beef.

Helpful staff

I have to take a minute to express how wonderful the people of the Edmonds PCC are. I don’t entertain that often, but when I do it’s usually with new recipes and I want them to be perfect. So I take them to PCC for the best ingredients. Two days ago, I was making Cheesy Polenta and Greens and Beans to go together in a bowl. My first “how can I help you” came from a very knowledgeable gentleman in the wine department. He helped pick out the perfect wine.

Next, the gal in the cheese department helped pick the perfect cheese to top off my Greens and Beans. Next, she helped with two wonderful cheeses for my creamy cheesy polenta recipe. She even checked twice to make sure the amount we picked out would translate into the right amount for the recipe.

Next, I encountered the butcher and he gave me vital information about the “uncured” ham shanks. Finally, the produce man didn’t just tell me where to find the collards, but he went over to check to make sure they were there. Finally, the few other items I needed to make the meal special were available in just the right amounts and spiciness.

This is the same experience I had the other two times I made a special dinner. The people made the whole experience fun. I loved talking with each one of them and allowing them to have major input into the ingredients I purchased. I served the dinner last night and it was wonderful!
— Patricia Gaines

Mineral makeup

I recently bought some mineral makeup from your store and I love it. But I am concerned about the safety of this product.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so few cosmetic ingredients regulated or listed as dangerous compared with European standards. I wonder if this product is truly safe. I have heard titanium dioxide is both safe and dangerous. How does PCC know that the cosmetics sold at your store are safe?
— Name withheld upon request

PCC replies: The mineral makeups at PCC are micronized minerals. They are tested to make sure they do not penetrate the skin barrier.

You are correct that some can be toxic so we do screen all our makeup to check for these.

Also in this issue

PCC Board of Trustees report, June 2013

A loss in the family; Election, board and member meetings

Organic standards decisions

Read about NOSB decisions regarding allowance of antibiotic sprays used in organic apple and pear production, seed purity standard and rejection of several petitions asking that certain materials be allowed in organic foods.

In praise of pastured eggs

PCC is pleased to say we now sell pastured eggs at all our nine stores, depending on availability. They come from a variety of Washington farms where the chickens run free and feast on fresh pasture year-round.