Standards and sourcing

Our merchandisers are responsible for all of the products in our stores. In every way their selections reflect our co-op's policies. They always give preference to all-natural, organic and local products.

Their product choices — from a locally-grown carrot to an imported bottle of wine — are guided by specific quality standards and sourcing criteria.

Our confidence in the local products we sell is based on our direct, personal relationships with Northwest growers and producers. Third-party certifications and site visits, where feasible, help our merchandisers ensure that products purchased through brokers and distributors, or sourced from non-local producers, meet our expectations and those of our customers.

Sustainability and Product Labels and Seals

For an increasing number of consumers, growing and producing products in environmentally and socially responsible ways is as important as quality, taste, safety and value. The number of product labels used today can be confusing, especially where claims of being "green" are unsubstantiated.

We are careful to use and promote only those "eco-labels" backed by third-party certification. At PCC, you'll see these labels indicating verified compliance with recognized standards for how products were grown or produced.

USDA Organic

USDA Organic: Products that display this label have been certified organic by an agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A product may be either "100 percent organic," meaning it contains only organically produced raw or processed material, or it can be "Organic," which means it contains 95 percent to 100 percent organic ingredients.

Certified Organic Retailer

Certified Organic Retailer: You'll find this seal on the door of all PCC stores. It means that we are providing an extra level of assurance that the integrity of organic products we sell has been maintained from the farm to your shopping cart. Independent, third-party certifiers re-evaluate our stores annually and we maintain detailed records showing that USDA Organic Rules have been followed in our handling, storage and merchandising of organic products.

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade CertifiedTM: This label means that Fair Trade USA, a member of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and the only third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States, has ensured that specific criteria have been met in how a product was produced and traded. Criteria apply to environmental and social conditions where products originate, as well as economic considerations. Certification applies to agricultural products among which coffee, tea and chocolate are the most prevalent.


SalmonSafe: This label on PCC produce or a bottle of wine means that practices that help keep Northwest rivers healthy enough for native salmon to spawn and thrive were used in creating that product. PCC has promoted the Salmon-Safe label on products since the fall of 2005 and was the first Washington state retailer to support and promote Salmon-Safe certification of farms and wineries. Farms, vineyards, and even urban locations where streams, wetlands or stormwater runoff are present, can earn SalmonSafe certification. PCC's Edmonds location was the first retail location to be given Salmon-Safe certification in Washington State. It earned this distinction for its environmentally innovative redesign and development of its three-acre site. The store features a rooftop rainwater harvesting system for irrigation and other reuse, low input landscaping, and treatment of parking lot runoff through its rain gardens.

NPA Natural Standard

NPA Natural Standard: This seal on a personal care product ensures that all ingredients meet guidelines for "natural" as defined by the Natural Products Association. The NPA Natural Standard encompasses all cosmetic personal care products regulated by the FDA.

In January 2009 we announced that all vendors and manufacturers of personal care products must comply with the Natural Standard's ingredient criteria. PCC shoppers can trust that when they buy these products at PCC, they are truly "natural," whether or not they carry the seal.

More about: certified organic, Fair Trade, local food, Natural Standard

Related Content

We can and should recreate a system that reduces unnatural energy inputs, including petroleum-based feed crops. We need to replace high-maintenance feeding with grazing, and replace energy stored in a grain of corn with energy stored in a blade of grass. — Joel Huesby, Thundering Hooves Ranch; producer of 100 percent grass-fed beef sold at PCC.

Ideas? Contact:
Diana Chapman
Director of Sustainability

Learn more