Letters to the editor

This article was originally published in July 2022

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, in print and online. Submission does not guarantee publication. PCC reserves the right to edit content of submissions. Please email letters to editor@pccmarkets.com.


Rural underserved farmers

I think this is something that would be worth a mention in the Sound Consumer: The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) has announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support the cooperative business development needs of historically underserved farmers, ranchers and other socially disadvantaged groups in rural America.

— Bill Tirrill

PCC replies: Thank you, and we are always glad to share news and information supporting co-ops. The full news release on this partnership is online here.


Membership emails

Is there anyone who can help me receive your monthly membership emails? I have a membership on file but have not been receiving the offers I hear others talking about.

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out about receiving membership emails. We are happy to help you begin receiving offers!

By creating an account on our website and connecting your membership, you can control all your information, requesting replacement member cards, see any dividend that is awarded, and manage your subscription preferences. 

If you’ve never created an account before, visit pccmarkets.com/my-account and select “Create an Account.”

Once created you’ll see the question, “Are you already a PCC member?” with the option to link your membership to the online account.

Once connected, navigate to the Subscriptions tab where you can ensure you are opted into all the emails you’d like to receive, like Member Communications & Offers. You could also sign up for emails about Cooking Classes, Advocacy and more.

If you have any issues, we have made a guide to help here.

Please let us know if you have any questions at membership@pccmarkets.com.


Compostable produce bags

I am wondering why PCC still uses plastic bags for your produce. Seattle does not recycle plastic bags anymore. The city says to look for stores that recycle plastic bags, but I can’t find any, and who knows where they are going anymore if the city isn’t taking them.

Trader Joe’s uses compostable plastic bags, why can’t PCC?

PCC replies: Thanks for sharing your questions. We completely agree that moving to compostable produce bags is important.

We are working hard to find and implement a successful option for our customers. We tested the ones that Trader Joe’s uses and received quite a bit of negative customer feedback about them; specifically that they tore easily, defeating the purpose of using them. We do always sell reusable produce bags in our stores, if that is a good fit for you. Also, we recently launched a pilot program to collect plastic film at our Bothell and Edmonds stores. At these two stores, we now have plastic film bins located near the entrances of the stores. These can accept most film that’s stretchy and carries either a #2 HDPE or #4 LDPE mark. Examples include produce bags, zipper bags, bubble wrap/air packets, toilet paper case wrap, bread bags. We would love to have your support of this pilot program.

Thank you again for reaching out and sharing your questions on this. It’s always so helpful to hear from customers on the concerns that matter to them.


Reduce plastic use

This is in response to your ad for salad in a plastic container, which appeared in my inbox today.

You should not carry this product. The plastic used is extremely polluting. If companies would use plastic that could decompose quickly, then it could be acceptable. I used to buy this and other products like it until I realized what I was doing. I would think that you might come to the same conclusion. We have one planet, and we’re using it up quickly! I think you could, and I think should, eliminate a vast amount of plastic in our stores.

PCC replies: Thank you for your comment regarding the environmental impacts of plastic and its usage in our stores. We share your frustrations and concerns regarding plastic usage, and we have been hard at work reducing the amount that we use in our stores. We have made many positive changes to reduce plastics recently, but please know that we agree there is always more work to be done. 

Last year, we expanded our plastic water bottle ban by discontinuing the sale of plastic bottled water sized below 1 gallon, which will eliminate the sale of roughly 100,000 single-use plastic bottles a year. We’re providing more sustainable options such as bulk water, boxed water, and water in glass and aluminum. We are also working to roll out more bulk health and beauty products (e.g. shampoo and dish soaps) in our stores and have done so in the past five stores that we’ve opened. We’re currently phasing in the elimination of full plastic wraps on our supplement bottles and replacing that with just a small safety band around the lid. 

We continue to invest significant advocacy efforts into changing regulatory and policy hurdles and have supported major local, state and national legislative initiatives to reduce plastic. For example, reusable containers used to be a common feature in co-ops and other businesses with a general interest in reducing waste. But their use was restricted in recent years, as federal guidelines become more standardized and as regulators tried to balance the environmental benefits of reusable containers against any potential health risks from cross-contamination. PCC worked diligently with waste-reduction allies and local health departments to get these food codes changed so that our customers can use more of their reusable containers and reduce single-use plastic and waste. You can learn more about this new and exciting rule change here.

We agree that there’s much more work to be done for other products on our shelves. Changing the natural food industry’s deeply engrained dependency on plastic packaging is a complex undertaking, one that is continually evolving, but we are committed on all fronts to identifying more sustainable solutions and pushing the supply chain to do the same. 

Thank you again for sharing your concerns and suggestions with us. It helps us better understand what is important to our customers and informs the necessary steps that we need to take to reduce our impact on the environment. 


Colloidal silver ban

I recently learned that you banned all colloidal silver products in your stores and are even not allowing any Uncle Harry’s products that contain colloidal silver. That is very disappointing to hear, and I am especially disappointed that the PCC community (who supposedly “owns” you) was not consulted first. Who is making these major decisions, and why do they feel that their opinion is more valid than community member input? This is a very concerning direction that PCC is going in. I plan on shopping at my local apothecary instead, where the owner is very interested in hearing my input.

PCC replies: Thank you for your feedback and we are sorry to hear that you disagree with our decision to not sell colloidal silver products. Ingredient reviews involve an extensive review of scientific literature, articles and member and shopper input (if it has been provided). After reviewing this information, the Quality Standards Committee (QSC), which is a cross-departmental collaborative committee, then discusses the information provided and takes a vote on whether to allow or prohibit an ingredient. 

PCC reviewed a number of articles and information from health experts and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in our decision to not sell colloidal silver products. The consensus was that, while silver was used for its antibacterial properties long before the development of modern antibiotics and other medicines, many of the claims that companies use to sell their products are not substantiated by scientific evidence. The FDA determined in 1999 that all over-the-counter drugs containing colloidal silver ingredients for internal and external use were not generally recognized as safe or effective and are considered misbranded. 

Unlike some trace metals like iron, silver serves no biological function nor is it nutritionally essential. Silver can accumulate in the body, interfere with the effectiveness of other drugs, and can lead to an irreversible blue tinge to skin and gums, a condition known as argyria. Although rare, extreme over-ingestions of silver can impact kidney function or cause seizures. That being said, there are some legitimate medical applications of silver, such as silver-infused wound dressings. 

Colloidal silver is a suspension of small silver particles in liquid, and based on our research, it is unclear whether or not these particles are small enough to be considered nanoscale. PCC has a long history of not selling products with nanoparticles, because of their ability to penetrate into human tissue and organs in ways that larger-sized particles cannot.

PCC always recommends that our shoppers do what they feel is best for their health and to consult their physicians if they are unsure about using certain products. However, given the evidence available on these products, we decided to take a precautionary approach and not sell them at this time.

We are always willing to consider new science and information that was not available during an initial ingredient review and encourage you to share any that you feel should be considered during future ingredient reviews.

Thank you again for sharing your perspective, it is always a valued part of our decision-making process.

We hope that this explanation helps you better understand our decisions and again, we do very much appreciate your engagement and feedback on the topic.

Also in this issue

Community Voices: A Q&A with FEEST

PCC partner FEEST is working with youth leaders on “Making Justice Irresistibly Delicious.”

The Cherokee Purple puzzle: Should we rename famous seeds?

While seed names can be a beautiful connection to identity, culture, worldview and history, seed growers are grappling with old names that are derogatory or incorrect.

New research on whole grains and health

Whole grains are widely associated with decreased risk for several chronic diseases. New research sheds some light on the mechanisms behind those health benefits.