Letters to editor
Sound Consumer | May 2007
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
The 2007 Farm Bill
I just want to say what a great piece you had on the cover of last month’s Sound Consumer about the farm bill (The 2007 Farm Bill, what we need and why). It was really informative and put the farm bill — with all its overwhelming hugeness — into perspective. I like the political bent, too. Thanks for bringing it to us! My best,
— Valerie Reuther, Rosehip Farm, Coupeville, WA
The article by George Naylor was terrific. Clear, informative, enlightening. Thank you again for your dedication to bringing to light big-picture information!
— Cynthia Lair, nutrition educator and author
The sorry state of today’s agriculture described by George Naylor is the result of a documented conspiracy.
The Committee on Economic Development (CED) — one of the first private advisory groups to government — was formed by presidents of such giants as Bank of America, Campbell’s Soup, Pillsbury, HJ Heinz, Del Monte and Oscar Meyer. Over the years, from 1945 until 1974, CED vice-chairmen also were board members for Standard Oil, AT&T, Ford Motor, and the like. They issued regular policy statements — dedicated to elimination of the family farm.
A 1962 statement on its “Adaptive Program for Agriculture” recommended lowering farm prices below farmers’ costs of production to force one-third of all farmers out of rural areas: “A program to induce excess resources (primarily people) to move rapidly out of agriculture,” to be replaced by mechanized farming, and to lower wages in the urban labor forces, leading to cheaper “raw materials” for food processors.
The CED advised everyone to “invest in projects that break up village life by drawing people to centers of employment away from villages because, by preventing impersonal relations, village life is a major source of impediment to change.” Read that carefully.
Break the backbone of America to get everyone into the cities to be cogs in a more impersonal society of industrial food production and lifestyles, dependent for food from a system of machines.
They did a good job. Undoing it STARTS with Farm Bill fixes but leads to something closer to a revolution. Let’s get on with it.
— Jim Wells, Oregon Wild Edibles, Eugene, OR
Genetically engineered soy, etc.
It’s interesting to note that with all the well-deserved concern over genetically modified, pharmaceutical food crops (March Sound Consumer Pharmaceutical food crops. In a field near you?) everyone seems oblivious to the risks of soy.
Nearly all soy is genetically modified and crossed with the Brazil nut to up the protein “value.” Just that snippet alone should concern mothers who feed soy milk (which is a processing by-product) to their kids who are allergic to nuts. Soy properties mimic estrogen and can throw our body’s endocrine system out of whack when consumed in the amounts the public is consuming. It is a product I steer my clients clear of.
Soy never was meant, from our body’s viewpoint, to be consumed in the quantities it is. The soy industry has done an incredible job of duping the American public into believing it’s a healthy alternative to certified organic meat sources. It most certainly is not!
As a carrier oil, it’s used in conjunction with another oil or ingredients and heated. This makes it unstable and usually rancid by the time it hits the shelves. We cannot properly assimilate rancid fats.
The Weston Price Foundation has some incredibly compelling, well-referenced data on the “Soy Alert” sub-link. It’s more than happy to allow reprinting of their articles to disseminate information often out-shouted by the slick propaganda of large food conglomerates. I urge PCC to have a look at its data.
— Nancy L. Jerominski, Certified Holistic Lifestyle coach, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: We’re aware of Sally Fallon’s work for Weston Price and understand that many nutritionists agree with her on several key points, especially that fermented soy products such as tamari/shoyu, miso and tempeh are the healthiest choices among soy foods. Fresh tofu is perfectly wonderful, too, if consumed in small amounts as a condiment, especially in a diet that includes sea vegetables. See Cynthia Lair’s article in the Sound Consumer archives, To fu or not to fu: Quality and quantity of soy matters.
Canola and Skagit farmers
If most canola seed has been genetically modified and could hurt the Skagit Valley’s million dollar seed industry (see Newsbites, Sound Consumer March 2007), is boycotting canola products a way to support our Skagit farmers? I use organic Spectrum Canola oil. With gratitude for the Sound Consumer,
— Celia Bowker
Editor: Tough question with no right answer, in my view. Even if farmers in the Skagit win their proposed ban against canola in their five-county area, canola is planted elsewhere — and not just for cooking oil but also for biofuel production. What’s wrong is not canola per se but rather genetic engineering of crops that readily pollute related species.
Buying organic is a good choice, but you might also consider choosing olive oil for salads and raw foods, and ghee or coconut oil for sautéing. See our culinary oil brochure, Choosing the right cooking oil, available in all stores, for more information on your options.
I just recently returned from a trip to Hawaii where I discovered Acai berries. Upon returning, I dashed to PCC to see if you had this scrumptious, healthy, very hip berry and found myself pleasantly surprised in the frozen fruit section. I love the health benefits, the delicious flavor, and best of all the fact that I’m helping to protect the rainforest.
Then I started to think about the negative impact I might be causing the environment by purchasing this very distant, exotic berry (which comes from Brazil). With that said, I’m curious to see whether helping to save the rainforest or continuing to buy local is a better decision for our environment. Which has a greater impact on our world? Thanks,
— Emmy Hager, Woodinville
Editor: There may not be perfect answers to these complex issues. I recently learned at a sustainability conference that choosing rice from Thailand is more energy efficient than rice from California. Why? Because rice in Thailand is watered by monsoon rains while California rice is watered by irrigation, which uses lots of energy to make piping, to transport and build the piping system, and then to pump water to the fields. As sustainable issues are studied more, we’ll be able to make better, informed choices.
Charging for bags
I want to strongly second Natalie Kelley’s suggestion (Letters, April Sound Consumer) that PCC start charging for paper and plastic bags at the checkout counter.
A number of chains in Europe, Australia and the United States already do this and the effectiveness is amazing. In its first year of charging for disposable bags in the UK, IKEA saw a 95 percent reduction in bag use. In March, IKEA began charging for plastic bags in its U.S. stores while reducing the cost of their reusable bags.
People may gripe; some view the disposable bags as free garbage or pet poop bags (heaven forbid they’d have to pay for garbage bags!). But hopefully most PCC shoppers will appreciate the benefits for the environment and, thus, themselves. I didn’t see a response to Natalie’s letter, so was left wondering where PCC stands on charging for bags. I’d love to know. Best,
— Jennie Hoffman
P.S. I am so thrilled that my PCC (Greenlake) has started carrying bulk raisins. I used to split my shopping between PCC and Whole Foods because I couldn’t stand buying pre-packaged raisins. Now I don’t have to! Thanks so much.
Merchandising Director Paul Schmidt replies: We continue to discuss incentives for reusing bags and we continue to offer three different cloth bags for sale at or near cost to make them affordable to shoppers.
I do not agree that PCC should follow IKEA and charge for bags. I believe that when you charge fees or penalties for not doing the “right thing,” then you’re putting a negative slant on the experience and not impacting the environment positively in the long run, simply because a fee is assessed for something you disagree with.
While I feel it’s vital to conserve resources, I believe that encouraging people to buy and use reusable shopping bags or their plastic and paper bags from previous shops would have a stronger impact. Educate your friends, family and co-workers on the benefits of reusing bags and teach by example, by using a canvas bag at work or when shopping. Maybe even buy everyone you know a few canvas reusable shopping bags for them to use.
Encourage and praise but don’t punish each other for our practices. To quote Ghandi, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.”
Gratitude to PCC for all of your efforts.
— L. Jacobson, Arlington
My problem in remembering to reuse my bags is that I go into the store thinking I’m going to purchase only one thing and then end up buying a lot. One way I found to ensure getting my paper bags back to the store is to put my grocery list on them. With cloth bags the grocery list can be pinned to the bag.
We try to put our cloth bags back in the car as soon as they’re emptied, so (if needed) we can run out to the car for the bags before checkout.
— Chuck Hanna-Myrick, Bothel
Don’t eat raw mushrooms
In your March issue there’s a small article about crimini mushrooms. It states “Criminis are small versions of the giant portobello mushrooms and an excellent source of minerals, including copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. They’re a good source of vitamins B1 and B6, manganese and protein.”
Dr. Andrew Weil’s newsletter in February states (discussing portobello and crimini mushrooms) “This species ... contains natural carcinogens that mostly break down with high heat. I would advise against eating a lot of these mushrooms and you should never consume them raw.” The article goes on to cite Washington’s own Paul Stamets, owner of Fungi Perfecti (fungi.com) “Broil these mushrooms at 415 degrees for 10 minutes to destroy the toxins.” What’s the story? Thanks and keep up the good work.
— Len Pavelka
Editor replies: Our expert agrees with Dr. Weil that mushrooms never should be eaten raw. The biologist/chemist who wrote our cover story last September (In praise of the wild mushroom) explained that certain varieties of mushrooms do contain toxins. But, he says, the toxins are destroyed by heat in cooking. Cooking also makes the healthful properties in them, such as protein, vitamin B2 and ergosterol (which helps the body make vitamin D) readily available. The immune system-enhancing constituents also are very heat stable.