Letters to the editor

This article was originally published in November 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.


LaCroix natural flavorings

Can you speak to the health/safety of the natural essences used in LaCroix? My household prefers LaCroix over other sparkling water brands, but we know there have been rumblings over the health/safety of what the flavorings are. We’ve also learned to be wary of brands that claim things are “natural.” I know that PCC is very careful about the ingredients you allow in your stores, so I’m hoping you have some reassuring information? Thank you so much.

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out regarding LaCroix and natural flavors or essences used in the beverage. Based on our research and monitoring of a 2018 lawsuit against LaCroix regarding its flavorings, the general consensus is that it is safe to drink. There have been no reports of severe illness or reactions to drinking LaCroix.

Whether the flavorings are natural and/or healthy is more complex and is also a matter of personal opinion. The 2018 lawsuit claimed that LaCroix contained artificial chemicals, including one used in insecticide. While that headline may seem alarming, the compound in question was linalool, a compound found in lavender, citrus and other plants. While those flavor chemicals can be synthetically produced to mimic the naturally occurring compounds, LaCroix has maintained that the chemical flavorings found in their beverages are derived from natural sources and state that their products contain no artificial ingredients to enhance the extracted flavors. That being said, it is also a personal choice whether one considers extracted compounds isolated from their plant and botanical origins as still being natural.

You are correct to be correct to be careful with the term natural in general, as there is no legal definition, and it is not a regulated term. The Food and Drug Administration does, however, have a policy that foods labeled natural cannot have any artificial or synthetic ingredients added to them. For some additional information on the term natural and natural flavors, please visit our FAQ sheet for PCC’s food ingredients standard, located here.

We always encourage shoppers to choose what they feel comfortable consuming and if you have concerns regarding health impacts, we’d encourage you to talk with your physician or a nutrition specialist.

Electronic gift cards

I need some help with a couple e-gift cards I received. Is there any way I can have the gift amount put onto a physical PCC gift card? I don’t have a smart phone. I could print out the emails showing the balance and security code and bring them into a PCC store.

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out with your questions about how to use e-gift cards without a smart phone that would allow the cashier to scan the barcode. First, if you do have access to a printer, printing off the email (for the barcode) will allow a cashier to scan and use the e-gift card in the store. 

You can also have a cashier transfer the balance to a physical gift card if that is easier for you to keep in your wallet. In that case you will be purchasing a physical gift card and paying for it with the printed barcode or digital barcode from the e-gift card in your email. Both instances just require that the barcode is printed or available digitally in the store. Please let us know if you have any other questions, we would be happy to help.

Cut back on meat

I hate to be a whiner, but it’s probably a good time to cut back on all the meat products. At the Green Lake PCC, I saw a ton of burgers in the deli but no Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers.

Why not some healthy lentil soup? Even if you are providing grass fed, humanely raised meat, it’s still putting pressure on the Earth’s biodiversity. Every bite of a hamburger is also taking a bite out of the Amazon. We need all the rainforest we can keep to counter runaway climate change.

Is it ethical to eat meat when there are starving people? It takes 50 pounds of grain or corn to make one pound of meat.

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out and sharing your feedback on meat and the environment. We are faced with the challenge of offering products for our 100,000+ members and additional shoppers, and we recognize that not every product will be appealing to everyone.

At PCC we actively promote plant-rich diets, offering an abundance of vegetarian protein products and providing vegan and vegetarian-focused classes in our PCC Cooks program. To speak to your specific product requests, you’ll find the Beyond Burgers in our freezer section and we always have vegan soup options to ensure we are meeting the needs of our wide array of customers. (The curried lentil soup is a particular favorite.) I also wanted to note that we do not source any meat from South America, where you noted deforestation is happening.

We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us, and if there are ever specific vegan products you would like to see us carry, you can request them through PCC’s website or by emailing customerservice@pccmarkets.com.

Glyphosate in oats

Does PCC check for the levels of glyphosate in the regular and steel cut oatmeal? I want to buy oatmeal that has zero amounts, preferably.

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns about glyphosate contamination in regular and steel cut oatmeal. We do not currently have the capacity to do batch testing for pesticide residues, but organic regulations do prohibit the use of glyphosate, so purchasing organic options for either regular or steel cut oats would be the best way to limit your intake of glyphosate. Any presence of the glyphosate would be due to the slight chance of contamination from pesticide drift from conventional crops. Organic producers do have strategies to minimize contamination, such as buffer zones and testing crops for pesticide residues, but it can be difficult to completely eliminate the risk given the widespread use of the pesticide.

Additionally, PCC is involved in policy advocacy work at the state and federal level, where we push for stronger pesticide regulations and organic regulations, to help reduce the overall use of pesticides and to ensure stronger protections against organic fraud and possible contamination from conventional fields. Please let us know if you have any follow-up questions.

Good news

In the thirty plus years I’ve been a member, and in the thousands of words of articles, recipes and tips I’ve read in our paper, none have made me happier than the stories in the July-August edition. Especially the ICE CREAM stories—yes, all caps, because we all scream for ice cream. I also enjoyed all the other positive news, and had a half-hour’s relief from “the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that Flesh is heir to,” and that make up the usual news of the day. So, thanks!

PCC replies: We’re so happy to see feedback like this. Thank you for making our day!

Plastic trays

I’ve been noticing that meats and seafoods sometimes get packaged with two black plastic trays instead of just one, which feels unnecessarily wasteful. I don’t know if this is being done intentionally or accidentally, but could you ask your staff to please use no more than one tray per item? It’s already bad enough to be using any single-use plastic trays at all (instead of the compostable ones you previously had). Thanks.

PCC replies: Thank you for sharing your concerns about the use of plastic trays. We do not intentionally double up the trays and agree that it is unnecessary. The trays are lightweight and stacked tightly, and occasionally get accidentally doubled when wrapping our products. We will follow up with our teams to make sure they are aware of the issue and help avoid such problems. 

In the bigger picture, we are working to return to compostable trays as fast as possible, but the supply chain continues to pose challenges and shortages. The Texas plant that produced the compostable resin for the trays we were using shut down during the 2021 power crisis caused by freezing temperatures and we have learned it will not be resuming production. We are currently working with a handful of manufacturers on providing new sources for compostable trays and it continues to be a priority. 

Teen cooking classes

My 15-year-old son is excited about cooking and I’d like to sign him up for a cooking class, but there is only one right now for his age group. Could more classes be offered for older teens? It is a real gap.

PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out about cooking classes for older teens. Students 16 and up can actually attend our adult cooking classes, so we don’t usually have separate classes for that age range. If attending adult classes with a parent is an option, 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds are also welcome to do so. We appreciate your feedback and will share it with the PCC Cooks department.

Also in this issue

Sugar and the immune system

Each person processes sugar differently. Our Bastyr University correspondent discusses how the typical seasonal uptick in eating sweets can affect your body.

PCC Customer Service Stars

Meet Deborah Mattingly from the Kirkland PCC and James Dickey from the Green Lake Village PCC!

Trimming costs for holiday meals

Sumptuous holiday meals don’t have to break the budget. We have a mix of dollar-stretching tricks, recipes and tough-love guidance for a festive feast.