Letters to the editor
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are the labels on PCC’s compostable deli containers also compostable? Do they need to be removed before putting them in Seattle compost bins?
PCC replies: Thank you for writing in to ask about composting our deli labels. PCC has been working over the past few years to develop a thermal scale label (the type used to print labels for deli containers) that can be composted through our local facility, Cedar Grove, because there is currently not one on the market. While that work continues, Cedar Grove has assured us that labels of the size PCC uses on our compostable packaging are screened out during the composting process. Shoppers can put their PCC compostable deli containers in compost bins without removing the labels.
Yellow corn nutrients
While at Fremont (my favorite PCC) I noticed that yellow corn and bi-color corn were mixed together. I hope that for the next growing season PCC will urge more suppliers to grow yellow corn. I know bi-color is sexier, but bi-color has a problem. I recently learned from Consumer Reports that yellow is much healthier for our eyes. Yellow corn is a good source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for eye health and help prevent lens damage that leads to cataracts, and may prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Unfortunately, this is not true of bi-color corn.
PCC replies: Thank you for sharing this information about the nutrients in yellow corn vs. bi-color corn and for helping educate fellow shoppers. We have shared it directly with our produce merchandising team and hope that Sound Consumer readers will also find it useful.
Kale and chemicals
Are you making sure that the kale being sold does not have forever chemicals?
PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out with your question about contamination with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as forever chemicals. You may have seen recent news coverage about a study that found PFAS in samples of kale. The bottom-line answer is that PCC does not have the means or capacity to verify PFAS levels in produce, including kale.
We recognize this may be an unsettling response and would like to provide some context and perspective. Researchers have been testing various crops and other items for PFAS contamination in recent years. PFAS contamination is a widespread issue across the globe and across all food supply chains (including organic), consumer goods and industries. We will continue to see these results and subsequent news coverage until greater collective action is taken on the issue. That being said, kale is not generally a well-known high-risk crop or food for PFAS contamination. PFAS can contaminate foods in multiple ways—through the soil where it’s grown, from sewage sludge added to farmland (prohibited in organic), water for irrigation, and packaging or processing facilities. Most PFAS bind to protein, so foods high in protein tend to accumulate more.
There are actions one can take to reduce exposure to PFAS, such as getting water filters designed to remove long-chain PFAS, and avoiding cookware, clothing and cosmetics treated with PFAS. We’d encourage you to check out this link and this link to learn more.
Additionally, we want to share that PCC has been tracking this issue for many years and we are also deeply concerned about the public health and ecological threats these chemicals pose. We’ve vocally supported stronger regulations to protect people from PFAS, we don’t sell any “waterproof” cosmetics or personal care items that we know obtain their waterproof properties from PFAS, and we don’t allow deli packaging that has been treated with PFAS. We’re also actively researching and discussing more ways we can minimize the presence of these chemicals in our products and our stores.
Thank you again for reaching out with your question.
Organic bread questions
Hi guys. I’m afraid I have a bone to pick with you. It’s about the fresh bread in the bakery. You have a number of “organic” options, both PCC and Macrina branded. From what I can see, the only one close to being organic is the Macrina sourdough ficelle. All the other fresh breads labeled “organic” include thiamine mononitrate. That is an artificially synthesized food additive made from coal tar. Not organic. Made in a lab.
Meanwhile I love your store and everyone there…I just want to bring this to your attention on the off chance that nobody has noticed.
PCC replies: Thank you for your comment and kind words. We understand your perspective and appreciate knowing what our shoppers care about, especially when it comes to what is allowed and what is prohibited in products with organic certification.
Organic is a regulated term by the federal government. Under current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations, nutrient vitamins and minerals (including thiamine mononitrate) are allowed synthetic substances. If you’re curious to learn more, the Organic Trade Association has an article that outlines some of the background and history of this topic. Organic regulations do prohibit many petrochemical ingredients; however, it is not a perfect system, and we agree that organic has more work to do—that is why we’re involved in submitting comments about those regulations when public comment periods are open twice per year.
Minimizing the presence of petrochemical ingredients in products is a priority for PCC. We have prohibited certain ingredients in our health and body care department because they were made from petroleum. We don’t allow artificial dyes in our foods, because they are harmful ingredients that are made from coal tar. Synthetic vitamins are a more difficult one to address, because our regulatory agencies—the Food and Drug Administration, USDA and the organic program, along with health experts—agreed that fortification and ensuring the nutritional value of certain foods took precedence over the importance of nonsynthetic vitamin sources. They are incredibly common and widespread in the food system.
Thank you again for reaching out. We’re thankful for members like you who help us keep conversations like this one moving, and we will continue to improve and work toward better regulations.
Are you aware of the increasing concern about seed oils?
I have noticed that PCC uses a lot of toxic seed and vegetable oils as an ingredient in dishes served in the deli. For example canola, sunflower and safflower oils are used, as well as ingredients like Vegenaise. I would like to frequent the deli but do not want to consume these oils.
Thank you for carrying some brands that DO care about pure healthy oils, such as brands that use olive or avocado oils.
PCC replies: Thank you for reaching out with your questions regarding seed oils. PCC is a science-based business that is guided by the precautionary principle. That means when it comes to ingredients, we follow what experts and scientific evidence show us, but are also cautious when it is appropriate. (That is why we have prohibited synthetic dyes in our food for many years, even before there was as much evidence of their harm as there is today.)
We are aware that there is a lot of misinformation about seed oils circulating on the internet and in social media. And we understand that there’s a lot of conflicting information on health and nutrition available and it can be difficult to determine what is true. Ultimately, we are confident the scientific evidence simply does not support the claims that seed oils like canola, sunflower and safflower are toxic.
All oils contain polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fat in varying proportions. Many critics of seed oils point to a type of polyunsaturated fats called omega-6 as the reason to not consume them because it can set off chronic inflammation. However, experts such as Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and professor of nutrition at Tufts University, say the argument that seed oils are harmful due to omega-6 fatty acids causing inflammation is flawed and based on unreliable studies.
Additionally, some claim that consuming too much linoleic acid causes inflammation because it converts into arachidonic acid, a building block for inflammatory compounds. However, only 0.2% of that linoleic acid turns into arachidonic acid, and current evidence indicates that arachidonic acid has anti-inflammatory benefits as well. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the studies raised as concerning involved mice, and are not transferrable to humans when it comes to understanding the impacts of linoleic acid. This is because rodents don’t respond to linoleic acid in the same way people do. Human studies have not found a correlation with inflammation.
A balanced diet of omega-3s and omega-6s is important, and linoleic acid also contributes to skin health and production of cell walls.
Another criticism of seed oils relates to cooking practices and extraction methods. We agree some of these concerns are valid. Evidence shows that continually reheating unsaturated oils to high temperatures causes significant oxidation and a buildup of chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer. Additionally, oils that are produced through hexane or solvent extraction may have chemical contamination. That is why PCC doesn’t sell solvent-extracted oils or use them in the deli. While manufacturers are most likely taking steps to minimize contamination, we take a precautionary approach in this instance.
If you are curious to learn more, we recommend further reading on the topic: