PCC blog

Holiday (?!) preparations in full swing at PCC

This is my first time working in a retail environment, which means it's my first experience with the crazy run-up to the holiday season. I have never spent so much time thinking about Thanksgiving in my life -- starting in September, no less! 

                                                It's almost time again: Last year's Thanksgiving ad.

Now that it's October, we've also added Christmas to the mix of responsibilities. That means even more questions (and meetings). Which meats shall we offer in our meat case and in our ready-to-heat meals sold in the deli? Which wines pair best with Field Roast? (answer from our wine guy: anything). How many sides should there be? What should the sides be? What types of pie should we offer?

There are meals to plan and price, Eat Local for Thanksgiving campaigns to help organize, photos to shoot, gift ideas to compile, Web pages to design, ads and newsletters to write and recipes to organize into handy lists.

                                                     A sneak peek at our upcoming holiday pages!

The impending holiday season also means a lot of neat new products are rolling into our stores in the coming weeks, like Zoe's Meats in our deli, Boat Street Pickles from right here in Seattle, a new line of fresh-baked pies from our bakery, great new locally smoked salmon and these awesome snacks.

Hopefully I still have the energy to roast my turkey when the day finally rolls around! 


PCC Halloween mix supports Woodland Park Zoo

Most of us who grew up trick or treating had favorites, whether it was Now and Laters, mini Crunch bars, candy corn or Smarties (I was a big mini Twix fan). We knew which house had the best loot, and beelined there with our plastic pumpkins and pillowcases in tow.

Since 2005 we've tried to offer something a little different at PCC -- a mix of Halloween treats that are more in line with our health and environmental goals (but still count as treats). This year, our mix is a blend of Lärabar energy bar bites and fair-trade chocolate from Green & Black and Equal Exchange. And for the first time, 100 percent of the profit from the mix (more than $4,000) will benefit Woodland Park Zoo’s efforts in conservation and education.

Who knew a sweet tooth could be a good thing? 


Fresh Forecast: Local apples, pears, cranberries and winter squash

It's rainy and cozy today in our little part of the globe, the perfect time to fire up the oven and bake -- pear and hazelnut tarts, warm and spicy apple dumplings, a warm salad with roasted butternut squash, you name it. Why resist fall when you can embrace its positive points? Fresh, aromatic vegan pumpkin pie never hurt anyone.

I checked in with Joe Hardiman, our produce merchandiser, for a full report of what's now in store: 

APPLES: Our local, organic fall crop includes Golden Delicious and Red Delicious grown by Scott Leach of Scott Leach Orchards in Zillah, Wash., Galas from the Otte family in Tonasket, Wash., Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Jonagolds and Honeycrisp. Pink Ladies will be along soon, Joe says, when they have a bit more chilly weather to further their bright red blush. He recommends you try the Orin variety -- green like a Granny Smith, but sweet rather than sour.

PEARS: Local Organic green Bartletts from Scott Leach, Bosc from the Otte family, Forelles, red Bartlett, Red Crimson and itty-bitty, glowing Seckel pears.

CRANBERRIES: We're proud to carry local cranberries this season from the Coquille Indian Tribe in Coos Bay, Ore. Look for them beginning this weekend.

SQUASH: You name it, it's here: Sugar Pie pumpkins from Rent's Due Ranch in Stanwood, Wash., as well as local and organic Butternut, Acorn, Delicata, Spaghetti, Blue Hubbard, Kabocha, Sweet Dumpling and many other types of squash.

POMEGRANATES: Are fresh and in our stores from California. Click here to learn how to eat them without ruining your shirt.

LAST CHANCE: Local and organic Dappled Dandy pluots, fresh corn, summer squash and bell peppers are just about done for the year. Same with Keitt mangoes (the green, sweet ones that are smooth inside) from Mexico and California figs.


This week at PCC: Wine tastings, Halloween mix and fall fun on the way

The air is crisp and the ground crunchy with leaves. Local apples and pumpkins are flooding our produce department. Our special Halloween mix is back on the shelves. It's definitely fall, and time for cozy pursuits. 

SUPPORT WOODLAND PARK ZOO by purchasing PCC's Halloween mix, bags of fair-trade chocolates from Green & Black and Equal Exchange, along with some delicious bites from Lärabar. All profits from the mix will benefit the zoo's efforts in conservation and education. And look for the Kid Picks Mobile at the zoo's annual Pumpkin Prowl event Sunday, Oct. 25.

SIP AND DISCOVER new favorites at one of our wine tastings. Thursday, Oct. 15 the theme at Edmonds PCC is Easy to Drink, Easy to Buy while over at Redmond PCC it's A Taste of the Loire. Cost is $5 per person, paid at the door. Your tasting fee includes 1-ounce pours of each wine offered. RSVP by calling the reservation line at 206-547-1222 or e-mail winetastings@pccsea.com. These informal tastings take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Twenty-one and over only, please. View all tasting events.

HELP FEED THE HUNGRY by volunteering your time at the West Seattle PCC food packaging work party. Meet at West Seattle Food Bank (3419 S.W. Morgan St.) at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12 to help package bulk foods purchased with PCC Food Bank Program donations from PCC shoppers like you. All are welcome! Call Community Relations at 206-547-1222 or email communityrelations@pccsea.com for more information. 

MEET THE KID PICKS MOBILE and then GET A BIKE HELMET FOR $5 or get your current helmet fitted to a T from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16 at Redmond PCC. Sizes toddler to adult will be available but supplies are limited, and wearer must be present to purchase a helmet. Sponsored by Seattle Children's Hospital and PCC.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR for Movies with a Message, a free movie series held at our Edmonds and Redmond stores. At 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 it's "The World According to Monsanto" at Edmonds PCC. Public Affairs Director Trudy Bialic will be on hand following the movie for a lively discussion. Space is first-come, first served ... and did I mention free non-GMO popcorn and beverages? Come on down!

PCC Podcasts: Get to know Becky Selengut, chef, author, blogger and PCC Cooks instructor

After work a recent crazy Tuesday, I found myself at peace in a classroom high above Greenlake PCC, dicing onions, chopping cilantro and peeling carrots as part of a fragrant PCC Cooks class called "Soup Making For Autumn." 

Chef Olaiya Land taught us to make a trio of soups and flavorful garnishes I'd proudly serve to any dinner guest. Even better, we devoured them at the end of class, despite it being nearly 80 degrees outside (fall will come soon enough, I remember thinking). I learned an easier way to chop onions and to save Parmesan rinds in the freezer to drop into my simmering soup kettle whenever I need an extra flavor boost. And, I discovered many of my classmates were PCC Cooks groupies, who consistently follow a particular instructor through each new season of classes, or who have taken classes with the Cooks program for years. Now I get it. 

The women behind our award-winning PCC Cooks program

In honor of PCC Cooks, we're starting up a new podcast series here on Stir-fry. Each month we'll bring you an interview with one of our PCC Cooks instructors that that sheds some light on how they came to love food.

We're kicking things off with Becky Selengut, a local chef, blogger, cookbook author (find the "Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook" on our shelves at PCC) and all-around fascinating person. Find her on Twitter as @chefreinvented or at her blog.

Flash Player 9 or higher is required. Download it now.

More about: PCC Cooks

Greetings from the Ames Creek Farm tour!

I made the drive to Carnation around lunchtime Saturday, reveling in the sun soaking we received this weekend as the strip malls gave way to evergreens and then glacial valleys. Was it just me, or did the sun seem to saturate any exposed surface with its vibrant glow -- a last burst of summer before fall arrives full force? In any event, what a delightful day to take in Ames Creek Farm as part of this year's farm tour.

Hayrides through fields of squash, green beans and more.

A crowd gathers for PCC Cooks demonstrations, corn on the cob and fresh produce for sale

Hogs in the sun.

Acorn squash ripening under our watch.

The view across the squash leaves.

A party ain't a party without the Kid Picks Mobile!

Delicious veggie quesadillas in-the-making by Patty Pan Grill

Ames Creek is one of three Northwest farms preserved for future agricultural use by the PCC Farmland Trust, an independent, community-supported (thanks to you!), non-profit land trust. The goal is to keep farmers farming land far into the future using sustainable, organic growing methods. 

  • The 97-acre Delta Farm in Sequim, farmed by Nash's Organic Produce
  • The 174-acre Bennington Place Farm in Walla Walla, farmed by Thundering Hooves, a grass-fed meat operation
  • The 178-acre Ames Creek farm in Carnation, farmed by Full Circle Farm, Growing Things Farm and Children's Garden Farm

It feels good knowing at least some land out there is sacred. After all, remember what it produces: 

Welcome, fall.


More about: agriculture, Ames Creek Farm, community, PCC Farmland Trust

PCC named Washington state's most sustainably minded retailer!

We're not big on tooting our horn at PCC. But some news is just too good to not share. Like learning last night PCC Natural Markets is Washington State's most sustainably minded retailer of 2009! 

PCC won in the retail category of the Green Washington Awards, sponsored by Seattle Business Magazine, for demonstrating leadership, innovation and commitment to sustaining the environment.  Last year, we were runner up to a fellow co-op you may have heard of: REI. 

A panel of judges reviewed 147 award applications for this year's honors. You can read even more about our efforts in our monthly Focus on Sustainability feature here. Click here and here and here to read about other recent honors regarding our sustainable seafood, recyclying endeavors and more.

We share this award with you, our members and shoppers. We appreciate all those times you bring your own bag, your shared interest in treading lightly on the planet, your passion for sustainable foods and products.

Congratulations to all 2009 Green Washington Award winners! 

  • Retail: Yours truly
  • Manufacturing: Kenworth Truck Co.
  • Academic & Health Care Institutions: Seattle Community College District
  • Services: Gordon Trucking Inc.
  • Utilities: Puget Sound Energy
  • Building: McKinstry
  • Non-Profit: Climate Solutions
  • Natural Resources: Healing Hooves LLC
  • Technology: Talyst Inc.
  • Special Mention: Woodland Park Zoo





More about: sustainability

This week at PCC: Farm tour, wine tastings and more!

Make the most of the upcoming sunshine with a multitude of events going on around the region!

TAKE A HAYRIDE, enjoy live music and shop for farm-fresh organic produce at the annual PCC Farmland Trust Harvest Festival, part of the King County Harvest Celebration Farm Tour, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 at Ames Creek Farm (27307 N.E. 100th St. in Carnation). Join us for tours of the farm, cooking demos with PCC Cooks instructors and taste tests at the Kid Picks Mobile. For directions to this free event visit pccfarmlandtrust.org. For info on other farms participating in harvest celebrations, visit king.wsu.edu.

MEET A PCC BOARD MEMBER en route to the farm tour. A board member will be at PCC Redmond from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 26.

DISCOVER different wines in our collection at our wine tastings. Thursday, Sept. 24 it's a selection of our favorite organically and biodynamically grown wines at PCC Edmonds and Issaquah. The same night at PCC Fremont we'll share some of our favorite wines to go with pizza. On Friday, Sept. 25 explore Spanish wines at PCC Redmond. All tastings run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Cost is $5 per person, paid at the door. Your tasting fee includes 1-ounce pours of each wine offered. RSVP at 206-547-1222 or email winetastings@pccsea.com.

HELP the hungry by joining the food packaging work party at University District Food Bank (1413 N.E. 50th, Seattle) 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23. Help package bulk foods purchased with PCC Food Bank Program donations from PCC shoppers like you. Contact Community Relations at 206-547-1222 or email communityrelations@pccsea.com for more information.

CATCH THE KID PICKS MOBILE so your children can taste test a variety of healthy foods at the Ames Creek Farm Tour Sept. 26 or at the Issaquah Soccer Club's micro soccer games Friday, Sept. 25 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Klahanie Park (25000 S.E. Klahanie Blvd., Issaquah). For more on the league visit issaquahsoccerclub.org.

LEARN MORE about the benefits of fairly traded items. We're holding two Rewards of Fair Trade events where you can speak to vendors and sample fair trade products, including coffees from Fidalgo Bay Coffee, teas from Honest Tea and chocolates from Fremont's own Theo Chocolates. Stop by the patio at Edmonds PCC 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 or the patio at Fremont PCC 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4.

More about: community

One easy recipe for late summer's bounty

Stumped on what to do with all the great local produce this time of year? Need a fresh, crunchy salad as a side to a heavier dish? Have I got the solution for you! This super simple PCC Summer Vegetable Salad, developed by our PCC deli.

The ingredients, seated above on my kitchen counter:

  • 3 chopped English cucumbers
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced yellow pepper
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 pint chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch chopped green onion
  • 1/2 pound cubed Israeli feta cheese
  • 1/2 bunch chopped parsley (I prefer Italian)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine prepared vegetables and cubed Israeli feta in a large bowl. Mix lemon juice and olive oil. Toss with vegetables and salt and pepper.

We enjoyed it last night with Swedish meatballs and rice. Good stuff.

More about: salad

Natural relief from sinus pain

I hope your family and friends aren't suffering as much as mine. These past few weeks it seems every other person I run into is dealing with some sort of sinus pain (myself included). Maybe it's the changing seasons, or the changing pollen count. In search of some relief, I chatted with Kibby, one of our health and beauty care merchandising specialists (click here to learn more about our standards for what we stock in this department). Here are some of her suggestions: 

  • Try nasal irrigation (fun name, ancient tradition). Kibby says she know it sounds gross, but also that it really works. Rinsing the nasal passages with warm, salty water via a neti pot (that's one above) or other delivery system supports the natural cleansing function of the mucous membranes and helps clears nasal congestion and particulate matter (pollen and such) from the nose. Still nervous? Even Oprah has featured neti pots on her show.
  • PCC carries a wide range of herbs and herbal supplements called for in natural remedies long-reccomended for sinus pain. Sometimes, something as simple as a steaming cup of peppermint tea can help matters. Click here, here and here for more labor-intensive remedies. 

And, here's a handy list of natural nasal sprays and sinus-pain relief you'll find at PCC:

Hope this helps! I'm off to try some of these for myself.


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