Letters to the editor
Sound Consumer January 2020
Letters must be 250 words or less and include a name and hometown. Submission of letter grants automatic approval of publication to PCC, including name and hometown, in print and online. Submission does not guarantee publication. PCC reserves the right to edit content of submissions. Please email letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faster sourdough starter
After baking bread for my family for the last 50 years, I feel like an authority on the subject of sourdough (“Life in your loaf,” Sound Consumer October 2019). I am originally from Austria and grew up with simple, tasty and naturally organic bread. Coming to this country in the mid-’60s, I craved the bread I grew up with. After quite a bit of experimentation, I am producing a wonderful bread. I grind my own wheat, rye, buckwheat and kamut kernels.
Making your own sourdough starter is very inexpensive and easy. I have made this starter for the last 50 years and it is much simpler and shorter than the one you printed. My sourdough starter keeps up to three months in the fridge.
1 cup lukewarm water (filtered is better)
3⁄4 cup rye flour
1 Tbsp caraway
Mix well and keep in a warm place (70 – 80 degrees F)
Add one tablespoon of buttermilk
Add 1 cup of lukewarm water and 3⁄4 cup of rye flour
— Helga Jaques, Renton
I read with concern recent reports on lead in turmeric (see article here).
Can you let me know what precautions PCC has in place to ensure its turmeric is lead free?
PCC replies: Thank you for writing about recent news reports about lead in turmeric. PCC sources its turmeric through Frontier Co-op, which has rigorous quality standards. Frontier conducts its own independent sampling and testing on products it receives from suppliers, including testing for lead and other heavy metals.
While there is some debate as to what levels, if any, of lead should be allowed in foods, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) notes that it is not possible to completely prevent lead from entering the food supply, as it is present in the environment and does not biodegrade over time. Lead in the soil can also be naturally occurring. Based on FDA guidance documents, though, Frontier requires all its herbs and spices to contain less than 1 part per million of lead.
Again, thank you for sharing your concerns and inquiring about our turmeric sourcing.
Ban drivers from idling
I’m so delighted that you are switching to plant-based packaging. Here’s another disconnect it would be great to address: Every time I go to PCC, there are two or three vehicles idling, often in absolutely perfect weather, just to look at a phone or wait for someone in the store. It would be wonderful if people who are concerned what they put in their bodies enough to shop at PCC were also more mindful of what they put in the air for their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to deal with. Idling your car emits a pound of CO2 for every 10 minutes. On average; larger vehicles probably emit more. Climate change is real. Maybe PCC could have a policy about this. I’m told by a local activist that Seattle has anti-idling laws.
Completely unnecessary emissions we can all cut out right now? Let’s do that!
— Amy Wolf
PCC replies: Thank you for your feedback on our new packaging and for highlighting the issue of vehicle idling. Many states prohibit idling to various degrees, but Washington is not one of them, beyond requiring that vehicle engines are stopped before a driver leaves the car unattended. At the more local level, we identified some anti-idling provisions for Seattle and King County, but these applied to commercially contracted, diesel, or government vehicles. The Seattle Police Department confirmed that no other Seattle laws specifically target idling.
PCC does post signs in our loading dock areas asking delivery vehicles to avoid idling. We agree that it should be a priority issue for non-commercial drivers as well and have forwarded your suggestion to our sustainability department. Thank you for reminding us of ways individuals can take action against climate change.
Reusable vs. PLA
Dear PCC Sound Consumer:
Although I do agree that PCC’s switch from “recyclable” deli containers made from petroleum to “compostable” plastic made from corn was a wise move, it is extremely important that consumers still realize that the use of these containers is still much less preferable than bringing your own glass or other containers.
Your report was a little light on reporting the disadvantages of PLA, the plastic polymer made from corn. The cultivation of corn uses more nitrogen fertilizer, more herbicides and more insecticides than any other U.S. crop, a staggering total tonnage of such destructive chemicals. Those practices contribute to soil erosion and water pollution when nitrogen runs off fields into streams and rivers, threatening those streams and rivers and their flora and fauna. PLA’s being put in recycling or regular composting streams instead of industrial composting streams creates many problems. Its methane emissions are lower than plastic made from petroleum, but they are still substantial.
I do agree that PCC’s move was a positive one that should be applauded. But, for consumers who want to know the complete story, it is still a materially better choice to go to the bother of minimizing your use of even the PLA containers.
— Patty Grossman, Seattle
PCC replies: Thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding our new compostable deli containers and the use of personal containers in our stores. We agree with you that reusable containers are the best option for reducing environmental impacts of single-use waste.
Unfortunately, Washington state food safety rules present an obstacle to our being able to present reusable containers in the deli as the preferred packaging. Under these rules, we are prohibited from handling containers that customers bring from home. The good news is that those rules are currently under review and we are engaging with local officials to effect policy change that will allow broader use of reusable container options (see PCC policy report).
Until these much-needed changes are made, we allow shoppers to ask our deli staff to weigh and serve food on one of our compostable paper plates or deli sheets. Then, this can be transferred by the customer to their own reusable container.
You are also correct that conventional and genetically engineered corn production can have detrimental impacts on the environment and that compostable materials still present some negative impacts. When weighed against the negative environmental impacts of petroleum-based plastic, we determined that making the shift to compostable was an important and necessary step.
Changing a deeply engrained dependency on single-use packaging is a large undertaking, one that is continually evolving and still faces many hurdles. We are committed to finding solutions to these hurdles and identifying more sustainable solutions as we move forward.
Thank you again for your feedback. We are grateful for knowledgeable and committed shoppers like you, who help us to reduce our impact on the environment.
West Seattle parking
I made two trips to the West Seattle PCC store on opening day. The first trip was at 4 p.m., and the parking situation was horrendous—both upstairs/outdoors, and in the garage. “Opening day,” I thought, until I had to wait to drive down into the underground parking garage while cars were trying to drive up and out. There just isn’t room for both to happen simultaneously. Once in the garage, there were huge SUVs parked in the “Compact” spaces, making an already tight space even more claustrophobic trying to park safely.
I returned again at 9:30 p.m. and tried to park in the outdoor parking lot. The spaces are way too tight, and the space between the parking lanes is SO tight with people backing out without looking, and shoppers walking behind cars—without looking—that are trying to back out.
Truly disappointed in the horrible parking situation.
PCC replies: Thank you for writing, and for making two visits to the West Seattle store on its opening day. We are sorry that the parking areas were such a challenge to navigate and have some encouragement that the situation has improved.
Opening days at our stores attract an unusually large volume of traffic, often the most that the store might experience for years to come. Compounding the issues this causes with crowding, the experience of navigating the parking areas is new to every driver on that day, creating an adjustment period while drivers learn the layout and ins and outs of the space. Once the store is open, we evaluate making additional adaptations to the parking areas, since we are able to see at that point what is working well and what is not. For instance, we have installed mirrors, painted arrows and added signs to help drivers navigate the West Seattle lot.
We welcome your continued feedback.