Letters to the editor
This article was originally published in October 2018
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I had the beet walnut hummus today… WOW! I think this is one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. Thank you for finding one more way for me to LOVE beets!
Funny, as kids, my sister and I used to resist at dinner when my mom put her garden-grown beets on the plate. I’m glad she did because now they are one of my favorite foods!
Thanks PCC deli, you’re like having my mom here to cook for me.
Sustainability goals and solar generation
I’m very impressed with the “New Sustainability Goals” list! I was wondering if any consideration has been given to installing solar panels on all the stores to supply electricity, if only for the refrigeration and freezer units to cover storm blackouts?
PCC replies: We’re excited about our new sustainability goals, too. As for solar panel installations, our Fremont location is currently the only store equipped with a photovoltaic system. However, PCC recently pledged to purchase 100 percent renewable energy through renewable energy credits. In addition, all our stores are equipped with on-site generators that turn on during power outages. Most of our generators run on natural gas, with just a couple that rely on diesel.
Orcas and salmon
I am writing to express my deep gratitude for your article, “Wild salmon, killer whales, and us,” by Anne Mosness in the July/August issue. The headline immediately caught me as I exited the store. I had not yet read Sound Consumer before and I now look forward to it each month. I love it.
I had been wanting to learn more about orcas. Specifically, I had been wanting to learn more about what is going on with our beloved local J, K and L pods and what we can do to help. Mosness’ article was a perfect balance. It was informative, genuine and heartfelt. Our local community and worldwide community need more articles like this, and I would like to express my gratitude for your efforts.
I remain deeply moved by the article and I now am going to spread my passion about the issue. Thank you from my whole heart.
For our family, part of eating well is choosing our food responsibly. Shopping at PCC Community Markets and supporting it through membership are important parts of how we live our values. The recent focus on the peril the resident orcas are facing in the Salish Sea, due in part to a shortage of chinook salmon, has led my family to forego eating them. Salmon may be delicious but we all have other choices.
Has PCC Community Markets considered not selling chinook salmon given their dwindling numbers? PCC is a leader in the co-op movement, known for its support of sustainability in various forms. I believe there’s a principle here for which consideration should be given.
Sound Consumer published a very informative article (“Wild salmon, killer whales and us”) in July/August but, unless I missed it, there was one glaring omission. I did not see anything about PCC considering no longer carrying chinook salmon while this remains an issue. Is this being discussed internally?
Thank you for all you do,
— Russ Kevin Childers
PCC replies: Thank you for taking time to write to us about our local orcas and the challenges they’re facing. After thoughtful consideration, PCC has decided to place a moratorium on selling chinook salmon harvested in Washington state, Oregon or British Columbia waters — at least until we better understand their migration patterns and can be sure we aren’t competing with the orcas’ need for large chinook as their primary food.
We are seeking advice actively from fisheries and orca experts. Except for genetic testing, the best way to know where salmon originate is to harvest them when they’re returning upriver after being at sea for 2-5 years, where they are typically in mixed stock fisheries. Harvesting salmon from mixed stock ocean fisheries may be problematic. We are continuing to learn so we can refine and improve our policy.
We are holding off on selling Pacific Northwest chinook now, but we’ll continue to sell sockeye and select coho that are not a significant part of the orcas’ diet. The fish we sell, however, is just a short-term element in what must be a comprehensive approach to restore normative runs and habitat. The long-term strategies are more difficult but are on our radar.
Can you share more about the pros and cons of iodized salt? My understanding is that there are concerns about iodized salt, leading some people to prefer sea salt.
You point out in the Sound Consumer that a recent study found 50 percent of people in the United States are iodine deficient. Can you share more about the concerns with iodized salt and whether you recommend iodized or non-iodized salt?
— Luke and Devin Bruckner
PCC replies: As mentioned, a significant portion of the U.S. population is insufficient in iodine, making fortified salts an attractive option — especially for anyone not consuming seafood or sea greens on a regular basis.
Except for the few who are allergic to iodine, there aren’t any documented health concerns associated with iodized salt for the general public, other than the potential for consuming too much iodine. One teaspoon of iodized salt provides 100 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for sodium and 200 percent of the DV for iodine — so, theoretically, iodized salt could lead to consuming more iodine than recommended. However, it’s highly unlikely that an individual would consume 1 tsp of iodized salt/day.
Most salt in the American diet comes from packaged foods (bread, cereal, condiments), and only 25 percent of our sodium intake comes from the salt shaker. The salt used in packaged foods rarely is iodized, so too much iodine isn’t a big concern. Consumers are motivated to select sea salts over fortified salts because sea salts are more flavorful and add trace nutrients to a dish. Of course, each individual is different and some people (such as pregnant or nursing women) need more iodine than others, so it’s best to discuss your individual concerns with your health practitioner.
Would you please publish an updated list of the Dirty Dozen (or more than a dozen)?
PCC replies: The Environmental Working Group updates its Dirty Dozen list annually. This year there are 13 items listed for consumers to avoid pesticide exposure. These are: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, sweet bell peppers, and hot peppers. More information is available at ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php .
Note that while the Dirty Dozen may be a useful starting point for people to begin their education on organics, it provides an incomplete metric for personal health. At PCC we promote organic choices all the time not only for consumer health, but also for the health of our soil and water, and the health of our farmers and farmworkers.
I recently was in New Zealand and found myself drinking beer that I thought was “local” and independent but was in fact offered by a national brewery. Had I known, I wouldn’t have purchased the beer, preferring to support locally owned small businesses.
Here at home, in the beer section at the Fremont store, Reuben’s Brew is labeled “local” but so is Elysian, which is owned by a multinational corporation, Anheuser-Busch, but has tap rooms in Seattle. Odwalla is owned by the Coca-Cola Co., Naked Juice by PepsiCo Inc. Bottled water, in my opinion, basically can never be considered “local” unless it comes out of a local tap into a glass. As it is, both Coke and Pepsi sell bottled water, too. Consolidation of this sort impacts us all and, as a consumer, I want to know about it.
How does PCC define “local”? Would it be possible to include also in the store’s labeling system whether a product is owned independently, much like the bookstore industry does for itself and the beer industry seems to be doing? I was just at Hale’s Brewery and noticed that it has a sticker on the front door informing customers it’s an independently owned establishment. This is so helpful and it would be great if PCC could do the same!
— Caroline Sayre
PCC replies: When we designate a product “local,” we are referring to its place of production. As you observed, Elysian now is owned by Anheuser-Busch, but the beer still is brewed here in Washington. There are numerous similar examples, as the wine, beer and spirits business experiences increased consolidation — but rest assured that while we don’t base our definition of local upon the address of a company’s corporate headquarters, we will continue to base the “local” designation on where the product is produced. It’s worth pointing out, for example, that for our all-Northwest spirits selection, we choose not to include liquor that is distilled elsewhere, and only aged and bottled in the Northwest.
Tracking brand ownership is something Michigan State University professor, Phil Howard, has done for years and has made publicly available. His website (philhoward.net) tracks brand ownership and corporate consolidation and provides easy to read graphics. We’re grateful for his work because tracking brand ownership — and the independence of a brand — is beyond our capacity as a grocer.