Letters to editor
Sound Consumer | October 2006

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


Quality standards, product changes

Congratulations PCC! I am so proud of PCC management for taking bold steps to better align products with the first principle of our PCC policy governance, “PCC members and patrons will have access to high quality, healthful food that is fairly priced.” PCC consumers depend on PCC management to make the tough decisions and take ethical action in accordance with our policy, to provide us with healthful products.

The recent actions taken either to discontinue or replace several products helps promote and strengthen consumer trust in PCC as an organization that does what it says it will do. Thank you for having the courage to act on our convictions. And thank you for telling us about it in our always informative and well-written Sound Consumer.

For readers who missed the front page article, decisions were made to eliminate Horizon Organic dairy products due to questionable practices, Breyer’s “all natural” ice cream for allowing genetically engineered growth hormones, health bars with high fructose corn syrup, and new skin products that contain parabens — all serious contenders in the unhealthful category.
— Stephanie Roche, member

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I recently became aware that Horizon “organic” dairy products were being boycotted by the Organic Consumers Association. Apparently much of Horizon’s “organic” milk is coming from factory farm feedlots where the cows have been brought in from non-organic farms and have little or no access to pasture. I was concerned about this because we as PCC customers purchase and consume organic products for important nutritional and health reasons. The presence of fraudulent organic products breaks a bond of trust we hold with PCC and the natural foods industry.

I contacted PCC about this and was told that Horizon products were being discontinued. I’m impressed that you’ve taken decisive action on this and relieved to see that procedures are in place to ensure that products labeled organic actually meet USDA standards.

I’m reassured to see the vigilance of PCC in monitoring and enforcing organic standards. I’m glad I can continue to purchase organic products with confidence at your stores.
— Russ Hamerly, Seattle

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The weekend last summer spent with some of the Organic Valley dairy farmers at the Columbia Gorge was impactful, educational and inspiring, and it is in that light that I applaud your decision to discontinue the Horizon line. It is a challenge to adhere to ethical practices and product integrity in our competitive business climate but decisions like yours, small though they may seem in the larger context, are both necessary and important. My appreciation for doing the right thing.

I felt it important to write in support of your decision because I know how important these small decisions (movements) can be. After all, PCC (like Microsoft) started in someone’s garage and is, in large part (along with other small co-ops across the country), directly responsible for the fact that the organic movement has now become mainstream. In that way, we have accomplished what we set out to do, but the good fight is never, ever won. It is decisions such as the one that you and the team from PCC made regarding Horizon that help to ensure the good things we have already accomplished are maintained and carried forward.

PCC straddles a very delicate balance between principles of integrity and the bottom line, which is rare in the market place. So as long as we can maintain those in the right proportion, we will be different from other grocery stores.
— Layton Wakatsuki Grocery Coordinator, PCC West Seattle


Plastic bottles

I love, LOVE, LOVE PCC’s Sound Consumer! It’s so informative for those of us health-nut wannabes. Your August issue was packed with topics near and dear to me: vitamin D, water, plastics and fluoride.

I have an autistic son that must avoid all fluoride, so every few weeks I drive 25 minutes each way to PCC Issaquah to fill up my 36 gallons with Custom Pure deionized water. (The employees there very nicely help me with my big load.) In our household, we use this water exclusively for all drinking and cooking.

The article, “Safer Food Storage” by Samia McCully, reminded me of something I already knew but don’t have a solution for: I own and use the #7 plastic polycarbonate jugs that may increase health risks such as prostate and breast cancer. Glass and ceramic are too heavy and downright dangerous to lift. So what else can I use to transport and store safely my fluoride-free water? Do the #7 jugs continue to leach BPAs after several years of use? Are any cleaning methods for #7 jugs better or worse (for releasing) BPA? Does sunlight or florescent light worsen BPA contamination?

I haven’t a clue where else to get this information, but PCC is a trusted source for so many of us that I thought you might be able to help solve this dilemma.
­— Audrey Adams, Renton
p.s. I’ve always wondered if the studies testing the safety of polycarbonate #7 plastic water bottles used fluoridated or non-fluoridated water. This would be important since fluoride pulls contaminants such as aluminum out of the pipes and pots it touches — so couldn’t it also increase breakdown of the plastic jugs and pull the cancer-causing BPA into the stored water?

Editor: I can’t cite a source that specifically answers whether sunlight or fluorescent light worsens BPA contamination from #7 jugs. But it’s known that light of any kind degrades virtually everything — including plastic — and there’s evidence that washing and reusing plastic drinking bottles may accelerate breakdown of the plastic, suggesting more leaching would occur. See Reusing plastic water bottles may pose health risk, Newsbites, Sound Consumer, June 2003.

The Web site theGreenguide.com says BPA can leach from polycarbonate bottles as they age. A study done at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Japan, concluded that polycarbonate bottles containing hot liquids leach more BPA than bottles that aren’t warm.


Bottled water

Why are more people questioning the water that comes out of their tap? The explosive growth of the bottled water business is a dangerous trend, fueled by misleading advertising (A clean drink of water", August 2006 Sound Consumer).

The environmental impacts are staggering; plastic bottle packaging requires 1.5 million tons of plastic every year — most of which ends up in landfills. Additionally, water bottling is one of the least regulated industries in the United States. Studies show that bottled water is no safer than tap water and sometimes less safe, containing elevated levels of arsenic, bacteria and other contaminants.

Last year, people spent $100 billion on bottled water worldwide. Those marketing spinmeisters are convincing us somehow to pay thousands of times more, ounce for ounce, for the same substance we get out of the tap. The bottled water industry’s aggressive marketing tactics are undermining confidence in our public water supplies and opening the door for privatization and commodification of what should be a shared, common resource.
— Sarah Nason, Seattle

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I am a long-standing PCC member in Kirkland and really enjoyed two write-ups in the August issue. One was on water, the other on plastics. Are these available in reprint form? Keeping newspaper clippings doesn’t work out well. Thank you for the informative newsletter.
— Karen

Editor: Feature articles from Sound Consumer are archived online back through 2001. Visit pccnaturalmarkets.com, under “Resources,” click Sound Consumer. [see links on left]


Fluoride

Thanks for your article on fluoride (The National Academy of Sciences reports on fluoride, August 2006 Sound Consumer). Did you know that Bellingham residents voted to discontinue fluoridation recently? How lucky they are. I hope this can be accomplished in King County also. It is time for citizens to be informed and to do something about it. Thanks for the information.
— Anne Van, Bellevue

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Regarding the article and a letter: While I am not a chemist, I remember some of my high school chemistry. Fluorine is an elemental ion with one electron missing in its outer shell. It is highly reactive and tends to bond easily with other elements which have an extra electron or two in the outer shell. “Fluorine” becomes “fluoride” when it is part of a molecular compound.

All over the Internet are hundreds of articles about “fluoride,” but they don’t specify which molecule they’re discussing. The most commonly debated are calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride. Calcium fluoride is the molecule that reportedly prevents tooth decay. However, this is not the molecule that is being added to our water supplies.

What is being added is sodium fluoride, a component of rat poison and roach control products. Calcium fluoride is naturally occurring in low quantities in our water supplies. Sodium fluoride is an industrial waste product and actually strips the calcium out of our bodies, causing weakening of the bones and teeth.

While it is an extremely common error to lump these two molecules together, this clarification must be brought to the table!
— Segue Fischlin III, Seattle


Alternatives to microwave ovens

In February’s Sound Consumer, a writer mentioned the Miele steam oven as an alternative to microwave ovens. One location that sells them (according to their business locator) is Crossroads Appliance in Bellevue. It looks like people can purchase them online as well (miele.com). Prices range from $1500 to $2000. I also came across a short article in “Popular Science” regarding a superheated steam oven made by Sharp (see sharpusa.com). They, too, are proud of their product. It retails around $1400.

This is just an initial analysis and there could be better prices, other suppliers or other steam ovens.
— John Gruber, PCC member, Yakima


Sound Consumer mailing list

Greetings. My daughter is lucky enough to live in Seattle and enjoys her membership at PCC. She sends me the PCC Sound Consumer newspaper occasionally and I love it. Down here in sunny retiree Florida, we don’t have any big natural “supermarkets” or the support system you enjoy in Seattle. I would like to get on your mailing list to receive the Sound Consumer on a regular basis, but I wouldn’t become a member. I learn so much from this publication. Thanks for all you do there at PCC.
— Judy Lemanski, Palmetto, FL

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