Letters to the editor, August 2013

This article was originally published in August 2013

Shopping on a budget

I spend a lot of money on food at PCC, more than I would if I shopped at a mainstream store. Rather than seeing this as a loss, I see it as an investment that pays huge rewards:

  • My health and the health of my family. Proactive healthy eating is far cheaper than reactive health care for serious chronic conditions.
  • My time and stress levels. I know PCC has researched extensively everything in the store, so I don’t have to. This gives me huge peace of mind, so I don’t need to spend money on other de-stress activities/products.
  • Advocacy. PCC is active in politics and industry to make food safer and healthier for everyone. This can contribute to reducing collective healthcare expenses.
  • Education. PCC actively educates the community regarding health and nutrition, which again makes a healthier community. Sound Consumer is my favorite reading material. It’s incredibly informative and free.
  • Community building. PCC provides community activities, which builds positive community relationships, important in making any kind of positive changes. Sound Consumer is a great forum for community discussions about food and health.
  • Protecting local, organic farms. PCC Farmland Trust keeps precious farmland from being destroyed by commercial development interests.

I can’t imagine a better way to invest my money than by shopping at PCC. I keep my other expenses very low (small house, old car, low-budget entertainment, etc.) so I easily can afford to invest in the multiple benefits PCC provides. Thank you!
— Heather Graham

Editor replies: Several shoppers have sent their tips for shopping on a budget and reasons for shopping at PCC. We plan to run an article sharing them later this year.

Low-fat deli options

I would like to see some low-fat options in the deli. I am on a low-fat diet for my heart, doctor’s orders. I keep asking if there is anything low-fat in the deli and I am told either they don’t know or that it is healthy fat. I have been a member since 1988 and shop at PCC all the time. I keep thinking it would be great if I could grab something to go for lunch more easily.
— name withheld upon request

PCC replies: We’re sorry the staff you asked couldn’t help you find low-fat options, and we encourage you to ask someone else if that happens again. We offer nearly 150 low-fat (5 grams of fat per serving or less) options in our delis, including salads, soups, entrees and side dishes. Not all dishes are available every day at all locations, but you should be able to find some low-fat options every time you visit. You can search our online deli nutrition database to see what dishes are low-fat.

Meat cuts

Your grass-fed beef is vastly inferior to what’s available online and mostly because it’s cut and packed the way factory-raised, grain-fed beef is. I want bone-in, fat-on roasts and steaks, and the only reason I can’t buy them at PCC is because you cut out all the bone, trim off all the fat, and drain out all the blood and fluids. I’m pretty sure the grass-fed meats you start with are good, but you ruin them with these horrible processing methods!

I’ll start buying my beef, bison and pork at PCC when I start seeing bone-in cuts, with generous fat caps. Your chickens have a long way to go before they measure up to true pastured chickens, but I don’t know what the problem is there.

By the way, Stan Fishman’s blog (tendergrassfedmeat.com) and cookbooks are a treasure trove of information on grass-fed and pastured meats.
— Deborah Swanson

PCC replies: We offer bone-in roasts and steaks such as rib roasts, rib steaks, flanken short ribs and regular short ribs. Some stores carry oxtail as well. We do not offer bone-in chuck roast and bone-in chuck steaks in most stores, but they are in our Redmond store. These are Country Natural Beef, however, not our grass-fed choices.

The two grass-fed brands we carry, Eel River and PCC grass-fed beef, are pretty lean naturally. We’re not cutting off a lot of excess fat. Chucks and rib roast come with a little more fat than the other cuts.

You always may ask the meat counter staff at the PCC where you shop if it’s possible to get cuts you don’t see in the case.

We do offer pastured chickens. Six of our nine stores carry Palouse Pastured Poultry chicken (Fremont, Greenlake, Issaquah, Redmond, Kirkland and Edmonds). The season is March through December for fresh pastured chicken. We sell them frozen in the off-season.

Sound Consumer graphic

I am a big fan of PCC and I shop there three times a week. It’s run by smart, caring people and I think you do a great job. You need to do your research a bit better, however.

The latest PCC newsletter arrived at my home a couple days ago and the front page was about dangerous food additives (Food ingredients: how do we know what’s safe?, June). But the big scary chemical you had on the front page to underscore your point was … an amino acid. Present in almost everything on every shelf of every store everywhere. Necessary for life. The building block of proteins. Essential, if you’ll pardon the expression.

And the picture is from the amino acid Wikipedia article that states, “Because of their biological significance, amino acids are important in nutrition and are commonly used in nutritional supplements, fertilizers and food technology.”

I get what you are trying to do and, admittedly, most of your readers don’t spend their days looking at proteins like I do. But PCC is in business because shoppers like me believe that you are experts.

So, please, represent yourselves in the best light. If you are writing an article on chemicals, have a chemist read it before you send it out into the public. If it’s about farming, talk to a farmer. If it’s about milk, talk to a cow. I shop there because I believe you are professionals and food experts and that my diet is better for it.
— Denny

PCC replies: Thanks for letting us know. We regret the error. We should have been more careful to illustrate some additive or processing agent.

Eden Foods lawsuit

Thank you for continuing to carry Eden Foods. I understand some people object to that company’s position on certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. They are, of course, free to express their disapproval by not buying Eden’s products, but they should not insist on making the products unavailable to everyone. Not all PCC members share their opinions. Some of us even agree with Eden’s concern about religious freedom. I appreciate your policy of “sticking to food and environment issues for public position statements.”
— T. Graham


After reading the letters in the June Sound Consumer about the Eden Foods lawsuit, I immediately wrote Eden foods myself … to congratulate them on their Constitutional integrity. Eden Foods is a principled food producer and distributer, which in 2009 was named best food company in the world by The Better World Shopping Guide. Perhaps the self-proclaimed and intolerant political correctness police could consider that other thoughtful readers have quite different — and equally valid — beliefs.
— Elise Anderson, Kirkland

PCC replies: Since stating in the June Sound Consumer that PCC limits public policy positions only to issues directly relating to food and the environment, we’ve received overwhelming support from readers and shoppers.

Stop fluoridating water

Science can be humbling and history is replete with examples of claims that a medication was “safe and effective” only to discover later that people were harmed. For 25 years as a dentist, I promoted fluoride, without looking at the science or laws.

The Board of Pharmacy has confirmed fluoride is a drug, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved fluoride for ingestion, making its use illegal. Most developed countries no longer fluoridate water nor recommend fluoride supplements.

Recently, Harvard School of Public Health scientists reviewed 27 studies and found strong evidence of developmental brain damage, a 7-point IQ loss, in children exposed to low levels of fluoride. The developing human brain appears to be highly sensitive to even small amounts of fluoride, suggesting there appears to be no lower limit of safety.

FDA requires fluoride toothpaste labels to say “Drug Facts” or “Do Not Swallow.” But most children accidentally swallow toothpaste. FDA’s concern is 0.25 mg fluoride, the same as one glass of fluoridated water!

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 41 percent of teens now have dental fluorosis, an undisputed biomarker of fluoride overdose. EPA scientists wrote, “The toxicity of fluoride is so great and the purported benefits are so small — if there are any at all — that requiring everyone to ingest it borders on criminal behavior on the part of government.”

Please read the facts: fluoridealert.org. It’s long past time to stop fluoridating public water!
— Bill Osmunson D.D.S., M.P.H., President, Washington Action for Safe Water

Helpful staff

I am writing to commend an employee of your Seward Park store. I parked there a few weeks ago and didn’t realize I had a flat tire. One of your employees put a note on my window letting me know I had a flat (or I would not have noticed and would have driven away). I called AAA and Scott helped me find my spare so I could explain to AAA where it was.

I had a very hungry toddler with me and had an hour wait, and Scott offered to change the tire for me, which he did very efficiently. I was so grateful. When I went to the tire store they said the flat tire had been shredded and I would have had a blowout had I driven any more. Scott certainly saved me from a hungry toddler meltdown and may have prevented me from having a blowout with my children in the car.

He was so kind and considerate. I cannot thank you enough!
— Anneleen Flora

Also in this issue

News bites, August 2013

More pesticide residues, U.S. companies label GE, Sea-Tac Airport bee hives, and more

Hospitals go farm-fresh

If there's any cuisine that's maligned universally, it is hospital food. Mystery meat, yellow jello — the jokes practically make themselves. A small group of dedicated hospital foodservice staff, clinicians and hospital administrators are trying to change that.

Study: GE corn and soy cause stomach inflammation

A new study involving pigs raised on genetically engineered (GE) grain adds to the growing body of evidence that raises questions about the safety of GE foods.