Letters to the editor
This article was originally published in November 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.
No calorie counting
I’m a big fan of your newsletter and mission but am not interested in seeing calorie counting promoted in any way while I’m doing my grocery shopping. Please reconsider using those types of articles.
PCC replies: Thank you for writing. First, we so appreciate your words about the newsletter and PCC’s mission! On the article you mentioned (“Nuts to that?!”), our intention was to alert people to updates in the science behind calorie counting and the flaws in the existing system. We weren’t intending it as a promotion, and we’ll be more conscious in future articles that it could be interpreted that way.
Organic poultry scorecard
I am a longtime shopper at PCC, starting with your Ravenna store. Depending on where I’ve lived I’ve shopped at the Wedgwood, Greenlake, Fremont, Kirkland, Redmond and Issaquah stores. This morning I looked at The Cornucopia Institute’s organic poultry scorecard (cornucopia.org) and wondered why PCC was not on their list. I’m not remembering right now which farm your chickens are sourced from. I want to use the highest quality of meat and poultry in the area. My first choice is always PCC. So please tell me how your chickens rate based on the Cornucopia scorecard so I can feel safe and assured I’m getting the highest quality I can get.
PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out and for your dedication to PCC! Our PCC Private Label chicken is from Pitman Family Farms, or Mary’s Organic Chicken. They have a 4-bird rating on The Cornucopia Institute’s Poultry scorecard.
While we continue to support The Cornucopia Institute’s efforts to inform consumers about the wide variety of organic options, we would like to take this opportunity to provide a little bit of background on the scorecard method. Unfortunately, for all of their scorecards, if suppliers do not participate in their survey, they are by default scored poorly. We believe this can be misleading and unfair to producers who choose not to participate in the survey. From experience, unwillingness to participate is not a mark that a producer is trying to hide information or their practices. PCC’s Private Label yogurt supplier, Pure Eire Dairy, has some of the highest animal welfare practices in the nation. However, the owners on principle choose not to participate in Cornucopia’s survey for dairy farms. In the past, they received a poor rating. They are now rated high because trusted informants were able to verify the criteria on the survey. As noted, we value the efforts of The Cornucopia Institute and continue to work with them to encourage improved scorecard rating systems.
Selling White sage
I’ve noticed that you sell white sage. I am deeply concerned by this, as this is both unsustainable and negatively impacts indigenous communities. Please begin your own research on this subject; here are two articles to get you started: bustle.com and “Sephora’s ‘Starter Witch Kit’ and Spiritual Theft”.
PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out and sharing your concerns about White Sage. Our primary supplier of White Sage products in health and body care, Juniper Ridge, is based in Oakland, California, and harvests their White Sage from the wild.
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, White Sage (salvia apiana) is not listed as endangered. (You can check out the list here.) That being said, it is very important to PCC that when harvesting for products does occur from the wild, it be done in a way that does not negatively impact the environment or place a species at risk. When we reached out to Juniper Ridge to discuss these concerns, it became apparent that Juniper Ridge feels the same. In the description of its harvesting process, Juniper Ridge emphasized that “less careful crews and harvesters have been known to cut a plant off from the bottom. We don’t work that way and never will. Our crew uses pruners to trim upper clusters only, keeping regrowth healthy and in balance.” Juniper Ridge also explained to us that they “revisit their harvest sites every year to evaluate the impact of our harvesting. Our impact after these evaluations has shown to be negligible. The plants and places remain healthy. If it ever appears otherwise we will stop harvesting.”
On the issue of cultural appropriation, Juniper Ridge has also been responsive to being educated on this issue and released a statement apologizing for the use of the term “smudge” and any disrespect they caused to Native American communities. Beginning in 2019 they removed the term smudge from the White Sage bundles and pledged that 10% of profits from the sale of this item will be donated to various Native American organizations.
It is always helpful for us to know what matters to our members and shoppers as we continue to evaluate and develop our product standards and hope that this information has been helpful to you as well. Pursuant to your recommendation, we will absolutely continue to evaluate and educate ourselves on these issues with diverse input from our communities. Thank you again for sharing your concerns.
Coconut milk concerns
Do you carry any coconut milk that is not harvested by monkeys? It has been all over the news, so I hope you are familiar with what I am inquiring about. (Editor’s note: An investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) alleged monkeys were being abused in Thailand and forced to pick coconuts, see “Cruelty in Coconut Milk.”) Thanks for your reply.
— Christie G
PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out to us about the concerning issue of coconuts being harvested by monkeys in Thailand. Animal welfare is an issue we take very seriously.
In reviewing the coconut product brands we sell, we found that we do sell the brand Aroy-D that was identified by PETA as using monkeys to harvest coconuts. Whenever we encounter a report of this nature, it is our usual procedure to reach out to the identified producers and conduct additional research concerning any allegations in the report. According to correspondence from Aroy-D, it does not source coconuts from farms utilizing monkeys for harvest. This communication does not mean that we will ignore the allegations, but it does mean we should conduct additional research before making any determination to terminate a supplier.
We will also be discussing this at our next Quality Standards Committee and evaluating other coconut product suppliers and to determine our next steps. If we have concerns about any of our suppliers, we will likely reach out and request assurance of their practices, as well as evaluate potential amendments to our sustainability standards to ensure that this abuse is avoided by any future suppliers.
In the interim, we always encourage our members and shoppers to use the power of your purchases to show which brands you support.
Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.