Letters to the editor
Sound Consumer July 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 email@example.com.
Dietitians and “Kid Food”
I really enjoyed the insights shared in the Sound Consumer article “Fighting for healthy, affordable ‘Kid Food’”. I wholeheartedly agreed with the points the author made for the importance of early childhood nutrition and its effect on the success and health of our children throughout their lifetime. I also enjoyed the historical points and refresher on societal factors influencing the issue of childhood malnutrition. However, as a registered dietitian, I found the author’s derision for her school dietitian in the opening paragraph troubling. While I do not necessarily doubt the author’s story, it does set the reader up to assume school dietitians are part of the problem and worse—deeply cognitively dissonant in their duty to ensure good nutrition in our schools. There are thousands of highly qualified, knowledgeable and committed dietitians across this country working diligently to develop innovative nutrition programs in schools despite significant systemic barriers, few of which were discussed in detail. Further, it was interesting to me to see the veiled criticism of the school dietitian in the beginning paragraph but praise for “nutritionists” in Japanese schools, suggesting that the author is unaware of what role dietitians actually fulfill in American schools as well as the difference between a registered dietitian and nutritionist as a legal term. I feel I speak for my colleagues in saying that we generally welcome voices and expertise from different backgrounds when it comes to nutrition but hope that this would be done respectfully so as to promote collaboration and accurate messaging.
— Leah Tarleton, MS, RDN
PCC replies: Thank you for reading. Early childhood nutrition is an important issue to us all, and we appreciate hearing your perspective.
I was gratified to see that PCC has demanded and obtained outdoor exercise space for the chickens who provide eggs to the Co-op (see “PCC sets a new standard for sustainable eggs”). I hope that PCC’s future plans call for allowing the birds that provide breasts and thighs that are sold by the co-op to receive a day outside with their egg-laying relatives before they are rendered into parts. Further, slaughterhouses should have to install skylights so that cattle and hogs can catch a glimpse of the sky before they are knocked unconscious. Fish and other sea life should be caught and released and then caught again to have one last, sweet taste of freedom. There is so much that can be done.
— Steve Gins
PCC replies: Thank you for reading and for your comments. Achieving our free-range standard for egg-laying hens was the result of a decade’s worth of work and raising the bar on animal welfare for other meat and seafood products has been an undertaking of equal effort and long-term dedication. Our animal welfare standards follow the current science on humane treatment and slaughter, and we invest significant time and resources into understanding that research and using our buying power to encourage best practices. While we understand the differing opinions on consumption of meat products, PCC’s goal is to provide customers with the best options available and allow them to make their own choices as informed consumers. A summary of our standards can be found online at pccmarkets.com/animal-welfare, and we always welcome receiving further information and recommendations from members.
Newspapers and Community
It has recently come to my attention that PCC Edmonds has chosen to stop carrying our community newspaper, the Edmonds Beacon. For an organization that claims to prioritize the needs of its communities, it is staggering to me that they would remove the Beacon, along with the other free newspapers at their market.
When I inquired, the Marketing Department notified me that “PCC made the decision to remove free publications from all of its stores. This was made with the lens of sustainability in mind. We have heard consistently from our store staff over the past few years that they recycle a considerable amount of free publications.”
What they failed to mention is that the Beacon publishers deliver the Beacon once a week and PICK UP any Beacon papers that are still on the stands a week later and recycle the papers, so PCC has zero responsibility in recycling the newspapers. Community newspapers have been proven to serve a very specific community need—to help the local population remain engaged and aware of real-life issues that impact their daily lives. Responsible media outlets, and journalism in general, are struggling to remain relevant and to highlight the difference between fake and real news, and although many online news sources are responsible, newspapers are critical to journalism and freedom of the press in this country. Local community newspapers are also critical to educating the local population on issues not significant enough to be covered by other outlets.
If PCC is truly committed to the words in its Commitment statement (“We are accountable to you, and to our shared commitment to economic, social and environmental responsibility”), then bringing back our community paper, that has no impact on its weekly recycling, is the only answer.
— Maria A. Montalvo
PCC replies: We agree that journalism plays a very important role in community building. But, as with any product, our members and shoppers vote with their actions.
Overall, we’ve seen a decline in the number of people who are picking up free publications in our stores. This suggests to us that most shoppers aren’t interested in that format and are getting their news another way. In some PCC communities, like West Seattle, members of the community have migrated online. Their excellent community news is delivered exclusively digitally, which allows for more timely news and updates to stories as they evolve. Since there is no cost of printing and distributing, it can cover stories big and small, not having to edit coverage based on page length, printing budget or production timelines. As a result, digital-only outlets like the West Seattle Blog—and others like Capitol Hill Blog and My Ballard—are thriving and have become the definitive source of information for local residents.
It’s true that another reason we chose to remove outside free publications is as part of our commitment to environmental sustainability. We agree with your observations that newspaper is recycled, and recyclable. However, reducing the number of items we send to recycle is preferable to recycling. PCC began reducing the amount of printed materials in its stores in 2016 when we eliminated educational brochures and ended production of our TASTE magazine. In 2017 we discontinued printing recipe cards, our holiday catalog and holiday menus—instead directing members and shoppers online. The decision to remove outside free publications from our stores at the end of last year was part of this ongoing effort, which started with turning the lens on ourselves.
As responsible environmental stewards, we will continue to evaluate our use of printed materials across the co-op, such as Sound Consumer and the culinary class catalog. Most recently, we began offering our members digital-only offers, in part to explore the possibility of reducing the number of print coupons we send via post.
I recently read the update about the lawsuit in Washington state to provide overtime for farmworkers.
It made me think of a very recent podcast I listened to about farmworkers in the time of COVID-19.
I felt very concerned about the health, safety and overall (mis)treatment of farmworkers in the United States. Does PCC have any policy or position on this?
I specifically would like to know whether PCC works with any farmers who treat their workers poorly, such as workers being forced to live in cramped quarters, low wages and no benefits, etc. What does PCC do, if anything, to ensure the dignity and well-being of farmworkers?
— James H.
PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out and for your concern about farmerworkers. PCC has a broad fair labor standard that states, “We will not tolerate child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, abuse or harassment. We expect employers to meet or exceed legal requirements for labor practices, worker health and safety, and housing.” You can read more on our website here.
Beyond this standard, our produce merchandisers work closely with many of our producers, especially those that are local, who are dedicated to their staff and care deeply about their well-being. Our two merchandisers visit many of our local farms themselves and can attest to the higher quality of treatment, working conditions, wages and benefits. PCC takes treatment of workers very seriously and we thank you for sharing in that concern.