Our commitment to sustainable foods

apples

How healthful is that apple you're eating every day at lunch? Your answer could impact future generations. It's overwhelming to think about, but the foods we choose to eat today have a direct affect on the earth, which in turn impacts everything from the livelihood of individual farmers to our economy as a whole.

That's why PCC Natural Markets offers you a choice — healthful, delicious foods from sustainable agricultural practices. By providing and promoting a marketplace for natural and organic foods we actively support sustainable agriculture, a culture of good stewardship — practiced by knowledgeable farmers and supported by stores like PCC and their communities — that works to protect the health of the land for coming generations.

Sustainable agriculture is grounded "in the long view" that the land upon which our food is grown, and the farmers who grow the food, should be protected, maintained and nurtured, now and for the future. PCC accepts the responsibility that we are an integral part of the food community — an extension of the practice of "sustainable agriculture."

Examples of our cooperative's commitment to sustainable agriculture include:

  • Helping start and administer the first P-Patch program in Seattle to encourage urban gardens.
  • Helping organize and fund the first organic growers association in Washington (Farmer's Wholesale Co-op).
  • Supporting small, local and regional organic farmers by providing markets for their produce at fair, just prices. Well-managed small farms can be as productive as larger, or more so. And they contribute to local economies, which adds to national food security.
  • Working to pass the Washington State Department of Agriculture's Organic Program, establishing standards for certification of organic agriculture, in 1985 — one of the first state organic programs in the nation.
  • Assisting small farmers in resolving issues of transporting fresh produce to market. The environmental effects of moving highly perishable produce are considerable, considering that the national average distance — farm to fork — is some 1,500 miles! Long distance transport, requiring refrigerating, trucking or rail, and maintenance of storage facilities, can use eight times more energy than the value of the food itself.
  • Giving a grant to small farmers for re-usable produce cartons, rather than to continue using disposable bins. This simple measure not only saves precious resources for the farmers, but also saves countless trees, and keeps tons of heavily waxed, non-compostable cardboard boxes out of the landfill — a highly unsustainable practice.
  • Assisting small farmers in securing funding by providing guaranteed markets. This has far reaching effects, saving both farmland and surrounding wild areas. Most large-scale farming practices utilize pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other toxic substances that pollute both the food we eat and the surrounding environment. Small local farmers are often forced out of business and must sell their land to developers.
  • Contributing to the establishment of the first certified organic dairy farms in Washington State by providing a credit guarantee, and by building consumer demand for organic dairy products in our stores. Nationally and statewide, small farm dairy operations have nearly disappeared. Small organic and sustainable dairies are helping reverse the trend. In 1994 the Pacific Northwest had no organic dairies — by 2000 there were 13.
  • Contributing to the founding of the PCC Farmland Trust, an independent, community-supported non-profit land trust established in 1999 to secure and preserve threatened farmland in Washington State for organic and sustainable agriculture. The PCC Farmland Trust protects functioning landscapes so protection can be extended to wildlife habitat as well as farmers and farming communities.
  • Participating in the establishment of National Organic Standards. Implemented in 2002. The standards prohibit synthetic fertilizers and sewage sludge in fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, genetically engineered seeds or other genetically altered organisms, and post-harvest treatment of crops or products with ionizing radiation.

PCC members submitted an estimated 10 percent of the 270,000 comments to USDA during development of the standards.

So, what about that apple? Is it local? Is it organic? Healthful eating isn't just about the personal health of you and your family. Healthful diets based on sustainable foods help make the entire world a better place to live.

More about: agriculture, NOSB, nutrition, organic food, sustainability, USDA