Letters to the editor, January 2017

This article was originally published in January 2017

Animal welfare

Thank you for your article on Pure éire Dairy and its superb practices. After reading about them, they now will be my “go to” for dairy products. These days, I am consuming much less meat and dairy because of the mistreatment of animals. I hope one day to be vegan but until I fully make the transition, I want to buy products with the highest standards.

Can you please list what meat suppliers you use that practice the most humane treatment of their animals? Thanks for all you do!

— Tammy

PCC replies: Pure éire has the highest animal welfare standards for dairy in the country, but all our meat, poultry and eggs must meet strict animal welfare standards.

Pure éire Dairy

I’m writing to thank you for your article on Pure éire Dairy (November). It truly has changed my life.

After reading your article, my wife and I decided we should try this milk not only because of how the cows are raised, or the fact that it’s organic, or even that it’s not homogenized and comes in glass jars, but because of the A2 type of beta casein.

Coming from Eastern European Jewish stock, I have a lactose intolerance and have been using lactose drops in my milk for decades. But after the very first use of this milk in my diet, that has totally changed! And, after factoring in the savings from not needing to buy Lactaid drops, Pure éire is a bargain.

I gave some to an Indian student of mine and after tasting and smacking his lips together, he exclaimed, “This really tastes like milk!” That translates to: “this tastes like the milk I was born and raised with back in India.”

We are total converts. Thank you. We buy this milk only 5 minutes from our Bothell home. Hooray for PCC!

— Jeff Lewis

I liked your article about Pure éire Dairy. I love the milk and, thanks to the article, bought the yogurt but it has no nutrition information on the label. Can you please find out if it’s made from cream?

— Maureen O’Neill

Farmer Jill Smith of Pure éire Dairy replies: The yogurt is not made from cream, just whole milk that has been strained. We aren’t required to provide nutritional information because we don’t cross state lines, but we’re working on the nutritional profile so it’s available for our customers. When the information is available, we’ll post it on our website, pureeiredairy.com.

Organic Farm School

PCC shoppers, thank you for buying whole, fresh produce from small-scale, sustainable farms all year long.

You may be interested to know about a program on Whidbey Island called the Organic Farm School, where we focus on preparing new farmers with not only the ag skills required to grow food but also the business and marketing skills needed to make a true living. Our experiential model (complete with classroom learning and many field trips) is working!

Over seven years, 41 students have completed the program. Seventy-eight percent remain actively engaged in food system work. Eleven graduates have started their own farms. Many more have become farm managers. One currently runs a local garden-to-school program that’s getting fresh food into student bellies, as well as establishing their understanding of healthy food and the environment.

But here’s the thing. If our graduates can’t sell what they grow, they don’t stay farmers for long. Statistics show that 40 percent of new farmers will fail in the first four years of their business. Much of that has to do with their level of business savvy (we work hard to instill that so our grads are in the 60th percentile). There’s still a lot of responsibility on the eater/buyer side.

Buying at PCC is great … keep doing it! Also, encourage your favorite restaurants to offer organic, locally grown options — especially at this time of year. There’s no reason to grow good food if no one is eating it.

Organic Farm School is still accepting applications for the 2017 season. Visit organicfarmschool.org for more info.

— Judy Feldman, Executive Director, Organic Farm School

Rinsing quinoa?

I saw the no-knead bread recipe on the “Gardening with Ciscoe” TV show with Lynn Vea.

It calls for whole-grain quinoa. I have quinoa that has to be rinsed before cooking because the coating is bitter. Is there a different kind of quinoa? Please let me know.

— Anonymous

PCC replies: If you’re using packaged quinoa from the brand Ancient Harvest, you don’t need to rinse it. Ancient Harvest says its quinoa is “thoroughly washed prior to packaging and we ensure that our cleaning process never harms the nutritional integrity of the quinoa seeds.”

If you’re using bulk quinoa or quinoa from a package that doesn’t claim it was pre-rinsed on the label, then yes, we recommend rinsing before cooking. It’s not harmful to consume un-rinsed quinoa but many people feel it tastes soapy or bitter and prefer to rinse.

Glyphosate in food

One of our main food sources in this country is wheat. I notice PCC carries a lot of non-organic wheat products. PCC customers, here is a big reason to buy only organic wheat products:

An article I read recently said, “Wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup/glyphosate several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as withered, dead wheat plants are less taxing on the farm equipment and allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest …”

According to a Canadian wheat farmer we met recently, glyphosate also is sprayed on the ground before planting for weed control. Just how much glyphosate can a person ingest and remain healthy?

— Dawna F.

PCC replies: You ask an important question but unfortunately, we don’t really know how much glyphosate people are ingesting from food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started testing certain foods this year to determine dietary exposures and reported finding glyphosate in oatmeal, baby formula and honey. But then the FDA suddenly suspended testing after a report from Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project exposed dangerous levels in popular (nonorganic) foods.

Scientists tell us glyphosate is not acutely toxic but total exposure from all sources combined is a real question. Be aware that in addition to nonorganic wheat, nonorganic oats and nonorganic garbanzo beans tend to have high levels of glyphosate. Studies also have found glyphosate in non-organic bread, beer and feminine hygiene products.

PCC always advocates buying organic food to avoid pesticide residues and for the health of the soil, water and environment as a whole. We have organic choices in virtually every category.

Field Day

Thanks so much for all the good things you’re doing for our community.

Earlier this year while shopping at View Ridge I noticed that you were beginning to carry products by Field Day. I really was pleased by the quality of each item I bought, which as I recall were some cookies and a couple jars of salsa.

A few weeks later I began to see more and more Field Day products at View Ridge. It made me happy because not only do I find their pantry items and snacks tasty, I’m grateful for their more competitive pricing model that fits better with my current budget.

— Anonymous

I love shopping at PCC. I frequent the Edmonds location several times a week. I was so excited to see your extended line of Field Day organic products. I’m so disappointed, however, to see soy lecithin in practically all of the products. I think the Golden Rounds crackers was the only thing I could purchase.

I know that soy lecithin does not need to be included in the recipe. The side effects to soy and soy lecithin are serious, like linked to cancer. That’s why I buy organic and shop at PCC. I’m very disappointed and hope you will seriously consider removing it from all the items.

— Name withheld upon request

PCC replies: PCC allows products containing soy lecithin, especially when it’s from organic and/or Non-GMO Verified sources, as is the case with Field Day. Field Day only has soy lecithin in cookies. Lecithin is added to help emulsify or blend ingredients. Some people have an allergy or intolerance to soy. Others avoid soy because of its estrogenic properties. While research on the potential of soy to “turn on” genes linked to cancer has produced mixed results, the American Institute for Cancer Research says soy lecithin is not considered a source of the controversial isoflavones of concern.

Customer service at PCC

Arvin at the Fremont PCC rescued our day. We were stranded with a bike flat — someone decided it would be brilliant to throw tacks onto the trail. So we had to walk more than a mile to get a flat fixed at a place that only accepted cash. But we only had a credit card — no pin, no debit card — and just our story. At PCC, we met your employee, Arvin, who loaned us $20 out of his own pocket. He made it easy as a friend would. Arvin, you gave us a great day and we want to thank you. You show people how to treat each other and that’s the real gift (though we’re paying you back!).

— Lucy and Marius


Re: “What should ‘healthy’ mean?” (November), I agree that it’s high time to revise the current Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “healthy.” I want to point out that some of the information in that story is inaccurate.

The current FDA definition of “healthy” does not allow for foods such as jelly beans and fruit punch to be labeled as “healthy” if fortified. Are you familiar with the “jelly bean rule”? This rule states that not only does a food need to meet the definition of “healthy,” but it also needs to meet the jelly bean rule, which states that a serving of the food needs to be a “good source” (or more than 10 percent of the Daily Value) of vitamins A, C, iron, dietary fiber or protein, prior to fortification.

— Daniela Geleva, Ph.D., R.D.

PCC replies: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. FDA’s jelly bean rule was established in 1994 to prevent food companies from adding vitamins to junk foods so that they could be marketed as healthful.

Also in this issue

Organic standards updates

The National Organic Standards Board considers and makes recommendations on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling and processing of organic products. Read about its recent decisions regarding hydroponics, carrageenan, xanthan gum, beta carotene and marine algae.

News bites, January 2017

Seafood guidelines: too much mercury?, Sustainable food system windfall?, Can AI help save tuna?, and more

Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

Learn about PCC Farmland Trust's 20 new projects, a new startup's attempts to farm the elusive black truffle mushroom, Canada's crude oil pipeline project, and more!