Letters to the editor

This article was originally published in May 2022

Chicken welfare concerns

Hello! I have grown increasingly distressed about animal cruelty in this country’s factory farming system. It is difficult to source humanely raised chicken in our area, and I’m wondering if PCC shares this concern. Is your poultry sustainably, humanely raised? If yes, what is the source and the farm?

Thanks very much; I am a member.
— Hollis

I recently bought a whole “Organic Air-Chilled Whole Fryer raised by Pitman Farms to meet PCC Standards.” What I would like to know is what are “PCC Standards”? I watched a New York Times video on chicken farming, which was disturbing, and I realized I don’t know how chickens sold at PCC are raised. 

Thank you,
— David Crocker

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out with your concerns regarding the welfare of chickens sold at PCC. We are guessing that you saw a recent video from The New York Times about industrial chicken farming, which highlighted the animal welfare and environmental costs of raising cheap poultry.

PCC has high standards for the vendors who supply our chicken. We require outdoor access for birds and enough space for them to engage in their natural behaviors. PCC sends out annual checklists to gather information about vendor practices and to ensure they are meeting our standards. Additionally, we are currently working on a significant update to our animal welfare standards, which will provide more detail and clarity on how we expect producers to raise and treat their birds. You can read PCC’s animal welfare standards here. And we encourage you to check back in a few months for the updated version on that page.

PCC’s Private Label (PL) chickens are raised, slaughtered, processed and packaged by Pitman Farms (Mary’s Chicken is their brand name). They are pioneers in larger scale, humanely raised chickens and have made significant investments to ensure birds are raised in healthy and safe facilities, including consulting with Temple Grandin and individuals from PETA to help accomplish that goal. The majority of Mary’s Chicken receives a Global Animal Partnership (GAP) level 3 rating (including PCC’s PL organic chickens) because that is what the market supports, providing the best animal welfare while being able to still offer a reasonably priced product. Additionally, Pitman Farms raises birds that are slower growing, which has enormous benefits to the bird’s welfare. You can learn more about Pitman Farm’s standards here.

While Pitman Farms is our main supplier, we do have some chicken from Draper Valley, which is owned by Purdue. We also require them to submit checklists to ensure they meet our animal welfare standards.

PCC cares deeply about the welfare of animals and we continue to improve our standards and the products on our shelves. Our meat and seafood merchandiser is actively working to establish more relationships with smaller, local poultry farmers that are committed to raising chickens humanely.

Thank you again for reaching out with your concerns as it helps us understand what our shoppers and members care about.


Turmeric testing

I was reading a story about lead contamination in turmeric affecting some families in the Seattle area. We always buy our turmeric from PCC, but the story made me wonder how much is known about the supply chain for turmeric and other spices PCC sells in the bulk section. Is product testing built into the supply chain?
— Satish

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out with your concerns over heavy metal contamination in spices, specifically lead in turmeric. This is an issue PCC has been tracking for a number of years and we share your concerns. Heavy metals find their way into food because they’re naturally occurring in trace amounts or because the soil or water is contaminated where the plants are grown.

At PCC, we source the majority of our spices from Frontier Co-op, because they have extremely high standards and conduct thorough internal testing for heavy metals and other contaminants. In addition to vetting their suppliers carefully and requiring organic certification, they conduct their own heavy metal analysis to test for lead, cadmium and arsenic using equipment that can obtain precise results at the parts per million level or lower. Frontier requires all their herbs and spices to contain less than 1 part per million of lead.

The Simply Organic brand, which is owned by Frontier Co-op, was tested by Consumer Reports and except for some concern with oregano, all of the samples from the brand returned with no concern of heavy metal contamination. While heavy metal contamination is always a potential risk in food and water, we are confident that Frontier Co-op has the strictest standards to safeguard against high levels of heavy metals in their products.


Seed story

Your March article on “Living and Farming in the World’s Seed Bank” was a very interesting story. My dad’s first cousins, the Leckenbys, had a seed company in the Mount Vernon area. After World War II, the Leckenbys sent a lot of seeds to China, according to a newspaper story I ran across. I now have an appreciation of how special these seeds are, and how few places they can be grown successfully. I found a reference to the company, with information about what they used to sell, at this website of historic seed catalogues. What would be very fascinating to know is the impact the seeds had in China.
— Stuart Jenner

PCC replies: Thank you for reading and for adding more information about our region’s history!


Receipt questions

My wife and I recently became members. Our cashier was nice enough to let us know we can apply our most recent purchase toward our dividend. We were directed to apply online via the address on our receipt. I don’t see a way on the website to add that transaction to my membership purchase history. I was also wondering if I can add this receipt to my compost pile. 

PCC replies: Thank you for writing. At PCC, our policy is that receipts can be applied as of the first day of membership. For example, if someone purchases a membership on June 1, only purchases made that day and afterward can be added to a membership. (Changes to receipts, e.g. returning an item, adding membership to transaction, etc. are valid for 30 days. If you would like to return a perishable item or a health and body care product we do also require a receipt.) 

As for the physical receipt, we have talked to our composting partner, Cedar Grove Composting Inc., and it is unfortunately unable to compost our receipts. 


Recipe requests

I have a few questions about the items in your deli. I just love your Tiger Mountain Chili and would like to have the recipe—can you share the recipes for deli items? Also, I’m wondering if I can have the nutritional information for a few of my most purchased items, like the Chicken Verde Burrito.

PCC replies: Thank you for your questions about deli item recipes and nutritional information. We would be happy to provide you with as much information as we can. We can certainly provide a recipe to you, but they do often have large batch sizes so they will need to be scaled down a bit for your personal use. We also have a wide variety of delicious recipes on our website. These won’t be items you can find in-store but are wonderful dishes you could make with PCC ingredients. As for nutritional information we do have some items listed on our website, but if you are unable to find it there, just reach out to us through our contact page and we will be able to find it for you.


Special orders

I was just online, and I realized one of my favorite vegan cheeses, from Miyoko’s, comes in multiple other flavor options! Of course, I would love it you could stock their other varieties of cheese, but if not, is there a way I could order them?

PCC replies: Thanks so much for writing in with this product recommendation and question about special ordering. Firstly, thank you for your suggestion for additional flavors. We have shared this request with our Merchandising team, and they will consider it when they next review this section. Secondly, we are always happy to help you with special ordering. We organize all special orders through the stores, either in-person or over the phone. Any employee from the relevant department or your cashier will be able to fill out a special-order form with you. We will order the product if it is available to us and call you when it has arrived. Some special orders do require you to purchase the whole case of the item, but when you do purchase the whole case, you will receive 10% off the normal retail price. Let us know if you have any additional questions!


Dividend balances

I was told by my cashier I have a remaining balance available of my 2021 dividend. Is there anywhere to view my dividend when I’m not at the checkout stand?

PCC replies: Thank you for writing in about the 2021 dividend. You can view your awarded dividend as well as view all transactions that contained your dividend on PCC’s website. After you have linked your website account to your membership, all dividend transactions can be viewed under “Membership” in the “Dividend” tab. The 2021 dividend will be available to you until December 31, 2023. If you have any questions about your dividend, you can always reach out to Membership@pccmarkets.com.

Also in this issue

See what’s new in PCC standards

Which ingredients are allowed in products PCC carries, and why? In a major new project, detailed and updated product standards are now online, along with PCC’s requirements for producers and a look at potential gaps.

Member Spotlights

PCC now has more than 100,000 members. We are spotlighting a few of the many people who help the co-op thrive.

A shellfish company gets into the weeds

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community shows how eelgrass and aquaculture can co-exist in Puget Sound.