Letters to the editor, October 2016

This article was originally published in October 2016

Styrofoam recycling

A letter to the editor, as well as a correction, addressed Draper Valley chicken trays, which are foam and not recyclable in Seattle (“Recycling vs. Composting” in July and “Correction re: chicken trays,” August).

While it’s true Styrofoam and other foam packaging and products are not recyclable through curbside services in the greater Seattle area, there is a wonderful recycling event for Styrofoam, plastic, bubble wrap and similar packaging products held in Kirkland one Saturday almost every month. The Kirkland Styrofest is free to anyone and held in the Kirkland Public Works Maintenance Center parking lot.

I encourage everyone to wash and save their foam meat trays, takeout food containers, cups and other Styrofoam or plastic packaging, and bring it in each month, rather than adding this non-degradable material to the landfills, where it may get into the diets of animals. For those who think they don’t acquire enough Styrofoam to warrant a trip to Kirkland to recycle it, how about neighbors taking turns each month organizing a collection and delivery?

— Mary King

PCC replies: Thank you for this excellent information. We dug a little more and found that in addition to the Kirkland event, there are more free drop centers in our trade area, as well as other options for recycling Styrofoam. Be aware all plastics must be completely clean in order to recycle. Food packaging must be washed thoroughly.

Almost any type of Styrofoam, including washed meat trays, packing peanuts and Styrofoam blocks (the preformed chunks used to pack TVs, for instance), can be dropped off in Seattle’s SoDo district, at Seattle Lighting Outlet, 26 S. Hanford, 206-268-3579.

In Kent, Styro Recycle (23418 68th Ave. S., 253-838-9555) takes all kinds of Styrofoam, including packing peanuts and foam chicken or meat trays — just be sure to bag each type of Styrofoam separately. It also accepts plastic (shrink) wrap.

In Shoreline, most of Des Moines, most of Burien, Maple Valley, Carnation, SeaTac, Bothell and Issaquah, CleanScapes collects block Styrofoam at your curb upon request, or you can drop it off (free if CleanScapes is your garbage collector; small fee if not). No foam meat trays. Call 206-762-4900 to see if you’re eligible and to schedule a pickup, or email desmoines@cleanscapes.com.

In Woodinville, The Big Guys Home Delivery (18815 139th Ave. NE, 425-820-8500) accepts clean, white Styrofoam, including meat trays.

Styrofoam peanuts can be dropped off at some mail stores and businesses, such as Pony Express or UPS stores.

King County Solid Waste Division lists recycling events in Seattle-area communities on its website.


Packaging options

I’ve been a member only for a few short months but I LOVE PCC! I do all my shopping there and I love its commitment to sustainable food and products that are good for the environment. I adore that PCC was a leader in the plastic bag banning movement.

I’ve recently tried out zero-waste living and my most recent shopping trip was good; however, I thought I’d write you with a couple things I noticed that could improve PCC’s impact on the environment.

The organic produce section is beautiful and has many selections. I use my reusable produce bags. But I saw cart after cart filled with plastic ones! If plastic bags were banned to take home all of our groceries in, don’t you think that should apply to all the plastic bags in the produce section as well? Maybe there could be a switch to no bags or compostable ones?

Another thing I noticed is the meat section. You have this wonderful selection of good-quality meat raised by farms that care about their animals. But then you put the chicken on Styrofoam! This stuff is so bad for the environment. It never breaks down. Couldn’t there be a compostable option? Like recycled cardboard?

I know PCC does wonderful things for the environment but there’s always room for improvement.

That said, I love your bulk section. Especially all the soaps and liquids. Thank you.

— Brittany Berck

PCC replies: Thank you for your honest feedback on what we’re doing right and where we can do better. We agree with you about the plastic produce bags and the Styrofoam! While we continue to look for viable compostable produce bags, our current plastic produce bags are recyclable, when clean. We also offer paper bags in our produce department and reusable mesh produce bags for sale in some of our stores.

All our meat trays — the beige ones for beef, lamb and pork — already are compostable through yard waste bins picked up curbside for Cedar Grove. Our white Draper Valley chicken trays are the one exception in meat; they are not compostable. They’re exempt from Seattle’s Styrofoam bans because the chicken in white trays is packed in Mount Vernon, at Draper Valley’s facility, beyond the reach of Seattle’s enforcement. Draper Valley says it’s still looking for a compostable tray that can go through its machinery.


Hair dye at PCC

Re: the letter to the editor from the gentleman who believes PCC should not sell artificial hair dye (August), I want to thank you, PCC, for being reasonable in still providing us members with less toxic hair dye options.

— Name withheld upon request


Clean cosmetics

Re: “Clean cosmetics,” August, I honor and appreciate that many people enjoy using makeup. I also recognize that makeup is a de-facto professional obligation for many women. However, I object to this statement: “that lovely reflection you see in the mirror is ready to face the world.” Whether I am ready to face the world has nothing to do with my makeup, thanks.

That said, I certainly would recommend PCC as a source for nontoxic makeup. A large percentage of the population chooses to wear makeup either daily or occasionally. I’m glad PCC offers nontoxic options. I’m hopeful that, in the future, you will find a way to discuss those options without suggesting makeup is a requirement for human interactions.

— Karen Crisalli Winter

PCC nutrition educator Marilyn Walls replies: As the author of this article, I understood that the topic could be misconstrued by people who do not wear makeup. Believing that beauty and courage come from within rather than what we put on ourselves, I certainly did not want to offend anyone for anything as personal as appearance choices.

Wearing makeup has a long history, including in ancient Egypt, where both men and women adorned themselves with makeup as part of their daily religious practice. These mineral cosmetics were worn as a sign of holiness and left in tombs for the deceased, who would need the magic of makeup for meeting the gods. While today most people believe that a spiritual life goes deeper than appearance, makeup was an expression in some cultures for facing the gods or the world.

We appreciate that you’ll recommend PCC for nontoxic makeup and skin care. Our article aimed to emphasize the importance of choosing nontoxic brands for those who do use makeup. The average American woman reportedly applies 515 synthetic chemicals to her body every day in makeup, lotions, deodorant, hair spray, etc., and we want shoppers to know that cleaner, safer options are available.


Prohibited ingredients list at PCC

I see your list of Ingredients and Processing Agents for Food and I love how it spells out what ingredients are accepted, not accepted, under review or phasing out.

For those that are not accepted, do you have a list somewhere that explains why they are not accepted? For example, titanium dioxide used for color. Is it not accepted because it is artificially derived? An explanation of why ingredients are not allowed would be very helpful!

— Allison

PCC replies: Thank you for the suggestion! You’ll be happy to know we’ve started adding notes to the list about why certain ingredients are prohibited and we’ll continue to do so.

Regarding titanium dioxide, it often is a product of nanotechnology, which the Food and Drug Administration has warned should not be assumed safe. Nanotechnology is unregulated and its products are not labeled. For more, see nanotechproject.org.


Kombucha on tap

What are the ingredients of the kombucha on tap in PCC delis?

— Catherine L.

PCC replies: The kombucha on tap in our PCC delis is made by Iggy’s, a local artisan producer of fermented foods. It’s made of green tea and a mixture of probiotic bacteria and yeasts, B-vitamins and organic acids (antioxidants). The ingredients are available in the deli, listed on the sign for each kombucha flavor. Iggy’s uses honey in its kombucha, rather than cane sugar, and calls it honeybrew kombucha. Many of the seasonal flavors contain fruit juices that could provide some additional sugar. Iggy’s also uses a lot of interesting, exotic and medicinal herbs to flavor its honeybrew kombuchas that have made them a staff favorite.

We don’t have access to nutritional information for these kombuchas because Iggy’s is not required legally to provide nutrition information because of its small size. Any calories, however, come from sugar, which is needed for the kombucha to ferment properly. The sugar content varies quite a bit from brand to brand — some are as low as 1 to 2g of sugar per serving, while others have 15 to 20g per serving.


A2 Milk

Does PCC carry any milk from cows that produce milk with A2 protein?

— Anonymous

PCC replies: Yes, the Pure éire brand of local, organic 100-percent grass-fed milk is tested to ensure it contains all A2 protein. Two other brands of cow milk are likely to be predominantly A2 milk but they’re not tested for assurance (see below). Goat, sheep, buffalo and yak milk also is predominantly A2.

All cow’s milk contains casein but the percentage of A1 and A2 beta-casein protein varies between herds of cattle, and also between countries and provinces. A1 and A2 beta-casein are genetic variants that differ by one amino acid. Modern cows can be either purely A2, purely A1 or A1/A2 hybrids. The A2 protein is dominant in Jersey, Guernsey and most Asian and African breeds, while the A1 protein is most often in milk from Holstein cows, known as volume-producers. There’s speculation that people with symptoms of lactose intolerance could be unable to digest A1 protein and that A1 milk may be linked to some health disorders.

We also sell milk from Twin Brook Creamery, which keeps a 100-percent Jersey cow herd but doesn’t test for A2 vs. A1 protein. Also, Grace Harbor milk is likely to be a mix of A1 and A2 proteins as it raises Holstein, Guernsey and Jersey cows.


PCC’s definition of “local”

What states do you consider when saying a product is “local”?

— Name withheld upon request

PCC replies: Products at PCC with a “local” shelf tag include those from Puget Sound, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. “Local” product ingredients may originate somewhere else but be processed or manufactured locally. For instance, Tony’s Coffee is designated “local” even though the beans are grown outside the United States. We don’t indicate “local” on our seafood products. Our seafood signs indicate the state the product is from — Alaska, Oregon or Washington — or the signs/scale label will say “product of U.S.A.”

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