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Sound Consumer | December 2003


Shop early at Fremont on December 11

PCC Fremont will be closing early at 5 p.m. on December 11 so PCC staff and their families can enjoy a holiday party together. All other stores will be open for your shopping pleasure. We appreciate your support and understanding.

Talk to the Board

Here's your opportunity to have a one-on-one exchange of ideas with Board members. Each month, a Board member will be available to talk to members at one store.

Other dates will be posted on our Web site under "Membership" and Board Activities.

Looking for Board applicants

PCC's nominating committee is looking for applicants to run for the Board of Trustees in the spring of 2004. Call PCC at 206-547-1222 or e-mail us at for an application packet or additional information. The application deadline is Friday, January 2, 2004.

PCC Kirkland: Business Recycler of the Year 2003

While business is growing at the PCC, waste is dwindling. Our Kirkland store has been named the Kirkland Business Recycler of the Year 2003 by the city of Kirkland. The store is recycling twelve different types of materials, including food scrap, paper products, metals, plastics and glass.

The Kirkland grocery store recycles 30.5 cubic yards per week. That's close to 1,600 cubic yards of material each year, just from that one store. And that doesn't include the pallets and plastic veggie containers that go back to the vendors for reuse. Although returning these materials is technically waste prevention, it translates to keeping tons of materials out of the landfill every year. PCC has implemented many waste prevention activities and is "closing-the-loop" by purchasing and selling recycled content products.

WSDA appoints PCC staff member

PCC's manager of public affairs and editor of Sound Consumer Trudy Bialic has been appointed by Washington's Director of Agriculture to the department's Pesticide Advisory Board. The Board exists to advise the Director of the Pesticide Management Division on any or all problems relating to the use and applications of pesticides in the state.

The 20-member Board is comprised of licensed pesticide applicators and consultants, agricultural labor, crop producers, an entomologist, representatives from the food processing industry, health care and state agencies (Health, Ecology, Agriculture, and Labor and Industries), among others. Bialic has been appointed to one of the two seats representing the environmental community. Bialic's appointment is for a four-year term running through June 30, 2007.

"The growth of the natural foods industry is linked to the consumers' growing concern about the levels and types of pesticides and herbicides used in the production of food," said PCC CEO Tracy Wolpert. "This whole issue is one of major concern for PCC's members, and we are proud that WSDA has acknowledged Trudy's work in this important area by making this appointment." Bialic says that she sees her service on the Pesticide Advisory Board as an "opportunity to speak for the interests of the consumer."

January Board meeting

The Board of Trustees will hold its next Board meeting Tuesday, January 27, 5 p.m., at the PCC office at 4201 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle. There will be time at 7 p.m., as usual, for member comments.

PCC Board message to members on EcoFish seafood program

An update from management

  • A committee of meat and seafood staff identified the components of a rebuilt seafood program that PCC should have for its membership.
  • PCC and EcoFish have been having discussions to identify and understand their respective shortfalls in the past and to develop improved protocols that would apply to any new program that we would launch.
  • PCC management is seeking a meeting with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which certified EcoFish as a distributor two years ago and has continued working with them in determining what fisheries are sustainable. The MSC is a panel of scientists with great expertise in marine studies. We would like their assistance in developing the best, most feasible program.
  • Customers at PCC today can be assured that all the fresh seafood offered in our stores is and will continue to be sustainably harvested, a standard that PCC intends to maintain with greater diligence in the future. Our fresh seafood presently comes exclusively from a supplier recently screened and authorized by the EcoFish program to replace the previous sources they had set up.

Dear Members,

Last month, an article ran in one of the local newspapers about an unfortunate error that occurred in our EcoFish seafood program. The article pointed out that some of the seafood sold in our stores was not authorized by EcoFish. In addition, an anonymous source indicated that some of the seafood might have been mislabeled as EcoFish.

For the last two years, the PCC Board of Trustees has placed great emphasis on addressing sustainability in all aspects of the organization's operations. Therefore, it is with great pride that we welcomed the addition of the environmentally-responsible EcoFish seafood program to our line of products. Since it was launched in 2002, the EcoFish program has generated approximately $2 million in sales.

It now appears that approximately $40,000 worth of "regular" (not EcoFish-approved) seafood, was purchased by staff and sold by PCC during the same period. Much of that seafood was Alaskan salmon and other products from sustainable fisheries. It is possible, although we have not had confirmation of it, that some of that seafood may have been improperly labeled as EcoFish product. Whether or not any seafood was in fact mislabeled, the Board sincerely regrets that even a small percentage of the seafood sold in our stores was not EcoFish product, given our commitment to sustainability and the fact that PCC had potentially created an expectation that all our seafood was authorized as being environmentally sound.

When our management discovered these errors, they immediately removed all the EcoFish labels from all the seafood products, terminated their contract with the vendor that violated its agreement with the EcoFish organization and reorganized the meat and seafood department. The Board met to hear about the events that led to this regrettable incident and determined that it was caused in part by a breakdown in communications among management, staff and the EcoFish organization. The Board feels that the problem was dealt with effectively once discovered, but, for added confidence, has requested the development of additional controls to guarantee the integrity of all PCC products.

The Board has full confidence in the members of the PCC staff who, every day through their dedication, carry out and maintain the many high quality programs in our stores. Those programs range from our extensive organic produce offering through more certified fair trade commodities as they, too, enter the marketplace.

PCC, along with other natural food coops around the country, has pioneered standards in certification of organic products for decades, culminating in the 2002 implementation of national standards with independent inspections by outside parties. Our cooperative was among the first to seek certification by an outside agency once those standards were adopted. We hope to be able to apply similar standards to our seafood products in the future.

Sincerely,

Chantal Stevens
Chair, for the Board of Trustees


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