Letters to editor
Sound Consumer | July 2004

Letters must be kept to 250 words or less and include a name, address and daytime phone number for verification or they cannot be published. We reserve the right to edit for space, clarity and accuracy. Please e-mail letters to


Sustainable communities

Kudos! May's Sound Consumer articles on the true cost of food and buying local could not be more relevant to our taking a stand for sustainability and healthy communities. If we want a sustainable future, we need to look at how the economic system can be reorganized to serve our communities. Circulating dollars locally helps create a web of economic relationships that is grounded in community for greater sustainability.

As consumers, we can make a difference by supporting homegrown and locally owned businesses with our purchases. The benefits spread beyond those businesses to the community as a whole. Some of those benefits include greater economic stability (jobs that are less likely to disappear), a more diverse and vital crop of businesses, and businesses that support community development as crucial to their own success. Locally owned businesses are also more likely to think in terms of sustainable practices because of their awareness of their interdependency with the environment and community.

One of the reasons I appreciate shopping at PCC is its "Northwest Produced" signage for local products. A lack of information on where to buy locally and sustainably produced products (not just food) is currently one of the main hurdles to developing greater consumer awareness around how we can use our economic choices to build healthy communities. To meet the need for this information, a network of community activists and sustainability-minded not-for-profits is collaborating on developing local economy maps and an on-line directory. If you're interested in getting involved in this fun project, see SeattleMap.org or contact by e-mail ecoprxs@oz.net.
In community,
— Viki Sonntag, Executive Director, EcoPraxis


Whole grains

I am writing about the availability of whole grains at PCC, and about availability of information about them. It is hard for me to distinguish by reading labels which packaged or bulk grains are whole grain, containing BOTH germ and bran, and which contain only bran, or neither germ nor bran.

I have been advised to sprout grain to find if it is actually whole grain, but this procedure does not work well for me: I am not expert in sprouting and have difficulty in distinguishing my failure to treat the grain right from an incomplete grain.

When I inquired about wine, a great deal of information was immediately available.
— Tish Korbly, Seattle

Nutrition Education Manager Goldie Caughlan replies: "Whole" means any grain (or seed, nut or bean) still intact. Ideally, it should sprout, since it contains the fiber-rich bran layer and the nutrient-rich interior, the "germplasm." But sprouting is not a really reliable test of the "essence of wholeness." Why? Because, although nutritionally whole, some modern cleaning and processing, even storage and transit, remove some outer layers or "chaff."

For example, quinoa, as harvested, has a slightly bitter natural resin coating. This is mechanically buffed off in the cleaning and for Western taste buds. It is nutritionally whole, since bran and germ are intact, even though cleaned seeds won't usually sprout. Similarly, "groats" such as "whole oat groats" have had the outer, unpalatable chaff removed, but not the nutrients, although it does resist sprouting. If you have further questions, please call me at 206-547-1222.

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